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Getting a grip on studio photography

Katarzyna Biadun. Photo: John Einar Sandvand
PICSPIRATION SUNDAY:  In between my landscape photography I try to also learn the basics of using a studio. Here are photos from a session with Polish model Katarzyna Biadun

Photographing landscapes and going into studio may seem like day and night:

  • In landscape photography you always have to work with the light which is there. The timing of photography is essential – you choose the time when the light is right.  The photo object stands absolutely still – the only way to find the right composition is to move yourself around in the landscape.
  • In studio photography the photographer creates all the light. You can create whatever light effect you want, provided you have the skills to do it.  The photo object – the model – moves around and poses to create the different compositions.

Of course: In all types of photography a good photo is the result of object, composition, light and technical skills.  But the skills needed to make the elements work well together are very different.

I am often in Krakow – and sometimes I do photo shoots in the studio of my friend, photographer Pawel Wodnicki. I consider myself a beginner in studio photography and hope to do shoots more often to improve.

Model: Katarzyna Biadun

This shoot was with model Katarzyna Biadun. Kasia – the short form for Katarzyna –  has been model several times on workshops I organize together with Pawel Wodnicki, but this was the first time we did a shoot together. To help us we had Make Up Artist Daria Biel.

When learning studio photography it is a big advantage to work with a professional model like Kasia Biadun, who knows how to pose and understands what the photographer is looking for.  Kasia is a very experienced model and exceptionally nice to work with.

The photos

I decided to focus on two light set-ups on this studio photography shoot: Low key and high key.

The main photo in the article is with high key light setup. In high key there is lot of light. There are two softboxes in front directed at the model – and two lights directed at the background to make it completely white. This setup give practically no shadows in the model´s face.

The amount of light is adjusted by either the power of the lamps, the aperture or ISO.

Other high key photos


Mysterious woman. Photo: John Einar Sandvand


High key portrait. Photo: John Einar Sandvand


Low key photos

In studio photography low key usually means using only one light. Sometimes it may be supplemented by a fill-light or a reflector, but the final effect gives the impression that only one light has been used.

I am a fan of low key photography, especially the atmosphere it can create if done well.

Low key portrait - using only one softbox in the studio. Photo: john Einar Sandvand

Low key portrait – using only one softbox in the studio. Photo: john Einar Sandvand


Another low key portrait – trying to express the emotion of contemplation. Photo: John Einar Sandvand

Color or BW?

In this shoot I have tried both color and black and white.

But choosing when to use color and when to use black and white is not easy, I think.

So here are two versions of the same image. What do you think?

Should it be color or black and white?

I would love if you give your opinion in the comment field below!

Katarzyna Biadun. Choice between color or B/W is not always easy in studio photography. Photo: John Einar Sandvand
2 comments… add one
  • Martin Stubbings

    Colour or B&W? Good question.
    At the size shown at the bottom of the page I think colour works better but for the larger images B&W wins

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