A Quick Guide to High Key Photos - ShopJeanPhotography.com

A Quick Guide to High Key Photos

What does High Key mean? 

High key images are photographs that are predominantly light in tone, with minimal shadow and high levels of contrast. Here are some tips for shooting high key images.

Lighting is Essential



To create a high key image, you will need a strong light source. This could be natural light, such as shooting on a bright and sunny day, or positioning your subject by a well-lit window. 

With studio lighting setups, softboxes, and diffusers are essential to evenly illuminate your subject without creating harsh shadows. A common setup includes using two or three light sources positioned around your subject.

A High Key Background

To create a high key image, you will need to use a background that is predominantly light in tone. This could be a white wall, a cloudy sky, a window, or a light-colored surface.

Aperture Plays a Role

To create a high key image, you will need to let in as much light as possible. Using a wide aperture, such as f/2.8 or wider, can allow more light into the camera and create a bright, light image.


Exposure Settings

High key images can be prone to overexposure, so it's important to keep an eye on the exposure meter. Start by setting your camera to manual mode. You can Overexpose your shot by setting a wider aperture to give that more bright and airy feel, but remember to be careful the image isn’t too bright where details begin to get lost.


Composition and Your Subject

Keep the composition simple and uncluttered.  Place your subject a comfortable distance from the background to prevent shadows from falling on it. This helps maintain the clean, seamless appearance of high key photography. 
High key images often feature a lot of negative space, or empty space in the frame. This helps to emphasize the light tones and create a sense of simplicity and purity. A centered subject can work also so definitely feel free to experiment with different compositions to find what suits your vision!



lightroom presets


The Final Image with Post Processing
Fine-tune the exposure, highlights, and whites in post-processing to achieve the desired level of brightness while retaining essential details. 


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.