Moody, dramatic studio photography portraits go in and out of style, but I have always liked them, especially with black and white images. I think it works even for baby photos, and you really don’t need a whole lot of equipment to create these types of shots, so they are easy to do on location as well.
Here are a couple of examples and how I set them up:
In this picture, the girl was sitting in a chair by the window in their kitchen, holding her baby brother. Their Mom was standing right behind the chair, holding up a black coat as a backdrop, and I was lucky enough to capture this moment when the baby looked up at his Mom (although it looks like he is looking at his adoring sister).
Their Mom loved the image, and when I showed it to her, she said “I can’t believe that was shot in my kitchen!”
In this headshot for a book jacket, the author was sitting on a stool in front of a black backdrop, next to a window (on his right), and I had set up a piece of white foam core on his left side to reflect some light back on the shadow area (without that, it would have looked more creepy than dramatic).
This image was selected for the book, and the author also ordered prints to give to his family.
So, as you can see, you can work with really simple setups and still get great results. Give it a try!