Studio Portraiture – Final Images

High, Mid, and Low Key Portraits

The picture editor of a weekend broadsheet publication has requested three portraits, using high, mid, and low key lighting. In addition, the article’s layout requires a close (head and shoulders), mid (waist up) and full body portrait.


  • high, mid, and low-key lighting styles
  • model positioning
  • styling
  • composition

I’m looking primarily at the weekend supplements of The Times, as well as examples of fashion portraits by known photographers.

Submitted Images:

High Key/Full Body
Mid Key/Mid Shot (with background colour edited in post-production)
Low Key/Close
That should say ‘rim light’, not ‘backlight’

Positive Aspects
My favourite portrait of the three is the low key close up, which I didn’t expect to be as it was the one I was least enthusiastic about. But I think it turned out to have the most impact. The subject carries a lot of inner strength, and I think it is the low key shot that shows this the most. I had a really good rapport with the subject and my various assistants, and I think I executed the images well. I think the images fit the brief.

Areas for Improvement
I really struggled with the studio portraiture brief. I enjoyed researching images, and my confidence in the studio eventually improved, but I had a lot of difficulty in physically making use of the studio space, which limited me quite a bit. Through no fault of the college or my peers, I felt that I did not have enough time in the studio to do myself or the brief justice, however I do feel that the development of my confidence and my competence is evident in the Low Key image, which was the last one I shot. I should have spent longer researching the lighting plans and planning the shoots and styling, rather than just hoping for the best when I turned up. I didn’t have a structure or a visualisation of what I wanted. I was really bad at writing things down as I went along, so my lighting plans were drawn retrospectively.

Evaluation of Learning
Aside from the technical competencies that I have improved in the studio, I think I really started to get a feel for positioning the model and communicating my ideas. I still need to work on visualising and planning a shoot, and on seeing it through to the end, but this brief has been a really good way of learning that lesson.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.