Planning Your Session – Style

As you consider your session and begin to prepare for it, one of the first questions you need to answer is what “style” of images are you looking for.  At Audacieux Photographics, we generally characterize image styles into three broad categories.  These are “Low Key”, “High Key”, and “Natural”.  Each of them has a characteristic look to the images and they represent fairly significant lighting setup differences.  While we’re happy to shoot more than one style at a session, we generally suggest a session be just one style so as to prevent the session from being too long and tiring.  If you’re tired when we’re shooting, it will show in the images!  The choice of style also may have a bearing on the location of the shoot and thus, is why we suggest choosing it first.

Read on to learn more about the three general styles of shots!

Low Key

Low key photography is our most popular, and probably our favorite type of photography.  The lighting is subdued and includes a lot of contrast.  There is usually just one light source and lots of shadows.

Low key, at least in our implementation of it, is usually all about the subject.  The background is generally black and it’s lit (or not lit) so that it simply fades away into darkness.  There are generally no, or a minimum of props, and only a sufficient amount of furniture (if any) to compose the shot.  Due to the dark nature of the images, they work better either with colorful wardrobe, or no wardrobe at all.  Black apparel tends to get lost against the background, hopefully for obvious reasons. 

When planned carefully  though,  even  dark  attire  can  be  managed in low key

Low key images can be shot anywhere, but are generally best done in studio where there’s maximum ability to control the light and plenty of space. 

We have however shot low key images on site at many different locations.  An abandoned incinerator perhaps?  See the ghost? 🙂  That effect is not photoshop!

We’d be happy to show you more samples if you’re interested.  Obviously, there are many possible variations of a low key style, so feel free to use your imagination.

High Key

High key images are probably the opposite of low key images.  These are bright and airy.  They’re shot on a white background which is actually overexposed so as to disappear into nothingness.

High key imagery shows everything, in great detail, and is great for images that “pop”.  We’ve used it for everything from boudoir to holiday and many other themes in between.  It’s great for showing off color, be it in a tattoo, or in attire.  It’s also a good choice for athletic and fitness style shots.  High key is often used for pinup style shots as well.  

High key lighting can also be done in other scenes and with other backgrounds and is often a choice for fitness models that wish to show off in great detail.  This type of high key lighting can be done anywhere.  High key lighting like the samples we’ve shown here is typically done in studio for ease of accommodating the extra lighting, special floor and white background.

Natural Lighting

Natural lighting is the appropriate choice for when you either want a more natural look to your images instead of the more polished result you see with high and low key, or where the scene is as important to the story as the subject.

Natural lighting is almost always done on site since it’s much easier to use an existing location than to try to set up the studio with furniture and decorations.  This is especially true if it’s important that the shots be in “your” bedroom or other personally significant location.

Keep in mind that our use of natural lighting is more about the appearance of the image and not necessarily about our use of supplemental lighting.  We may still use supplemental lighting even though we’re striving for a natural look depending on the lighting conditions of the site at the time.

We hope this answered any questions you may have on your choice of style for your session.  If not, don’t hesitate to email us at  Also, please be sure to check out the rest of the “Planning Your Session” series for more information on getting ready for the big day!