Low-Key Photography Defined and Explained – Free Quick Guide

Do people often tell you that your photos are too dark? Do you repeatedly break the rule that says, “Expose to the right”?

If you like dark and moody photographs, low-key photography is for you.

Low key is a style of photography that emphasizes darkness and shadow. The photographs often have a shadowed, maybe even completely black, background.

The subject seems to almost swim out of the shadows. It is not that light is unimportant. After all, photography is all about light. Light is used to shape the darkness.

Without it, your picture would be subjectless and completely black.

Low key photography is as much about feel as it is about technique.

The photos are moody and mysterious. They are dark and dramatic. If you are new to photography, the low-key style goes against many of the rules you have learned about properly exposing an image.

Low key is not a “well exposed” image. It is an intentionally darkened picture created for effect.

Here is what we cover in this guide:

  • Low-key vs. high-key photography
  • Elements of a low-key photograph
  • Creating a low-key image in a studio environment
  • Creating low-key nature and landscape images
  • Post-processing low-key images

If you’ve never tried this photo technique before, it is challenging and exciting!

Get Your Copy of the Guide Here

Photo Credit: Jenn Mishra

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