I am trying to learn a specific type of photography and am having a difficult time finding out the name for it. What I am most interested in, is a specific niche of high focus, minimalist, black background photography. I have seen many examples of this but am having a hard time figuring out what this type of photography is called. Is there a name for this style of photography?

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    It's not exactly low-key, because of the strong highlights and contrast...searching "high contrast low key" will get you more examples though...at least until someone answers with something better!
    – OnBreak.
    May 4, 2020 at 13:04
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    Also, the second example seems like a 3D render to me, not a photograph. May 4, 2020 at 15:13
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    @AnchovyLegend possibly monochrome photography May 4, 2020 at 16:02
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    If it was cinema, it would be 'noir'., though if you Google 'noir style photography' you get things that look like 'cinema noir' not photos like these. The lighting aspects are similar though.
    – Tetsujin
    May 4, 2020 at 16:18
  • @SaaruLindestøkke yes it looks like an HDRi lighting test
    – Jonas
    May 7, 2020 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


The most general term I can find that has reliable returns from google image search is "high contrast monochrome photography"

Some of the key stylistic points appear to be a strong use of broad areas of both full black and full white, but at the same time being a more balanced approach than High Key Or Low Key monochrome.

However, there is a clear lean towards the darker end, and I feel like there is a somewhat fuzzy distinction between "Low Key" and "High contrast" as modern image search returns provide.

  • Results from the use of the "Low Key" searches appear to make use of full white slightly less often, but there is otherwise a large overlap between the two terms.

As Tetsujin commented, I'm pretty sure it would be called "Noir." There's also a filter on the camera app on iPhones with that name. I attached a screenshot of that below.

iPhone camera 'noir' filter


My dad would take photos of equipment (Military electronics, mechanics, tech-guts for the lack of a better term) They didn't always have a black background, but then the background was usually part of the machine. I do not remember the name of the two types of film he used, but one was an infrared film. He said he got the best contrast from it, but depended on what he was shooting. The other was a PAN-EX OR -TONE, very high contrast and fine-grained 4x5 sheets. He just called it Hi-contrast B+W instrument photography. This is probably not much help, but I can't exactly ask him now. He also used a red filter a bunch. I will be interested in the final answer myself. Cheers!

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