Low-key photography is a style of photography that captures the beauty of the dark.

It can be used to create dramatic and moody images, as well as more subtle ones.

What Is Low-key Photography?

While high-key images are bright and airy, low-key photos are dark, moody and even sometimes sinister.

They’re often shot in black and white or monochrome (which means they only have one color).

This makes it easy for you to tell when someone’s taken a low-key photo–just look at all those blacks!

Advantages of Low-key Photography

Low-key photography is a technique that allows you to create beautiful images with limited equipment and minimal effort.

It’s also an excellent way to capture the beauty of the dark, which can be difficult for many people.

The advantages of low-key photography include:

Creating atmosphere – Low-key images tend to have a moody feel that draws viewers in; they encourage them to look more closely at your work and imagine what might be happening in it.

This makes them ideal for use as backgrounds on websites or social media profiles, where they’ll catch people’s attention even if they don’t initially realize what kind of image they’re seeing!

Emphasizing texture and shape – When lighting is limited (or nonexistent), you’re forced into using other means–such as selective focus–to draw attention toward certain parts of your subject matter while keeping other parts hidden from view; this helps emphasize those areas while creating visual interest throughout the entire composition.”

Choosing the Right Equipment for Low-key Photography

To get the best results, you’ll need to use a camera with manual settings and a tripod.

You can also choose the right lens for your low-key photography project.

If you’re going for an urban feel, try using a wide angle lens; if you want something more intimate and moody, go for something longer like 50mm or 85mm.

Depending on how much light is available in your scene (and whether or not there’s any artificial lighting), it might be helpful to bring along an external flash as well.

Creating a Low-key Scene

To create a low-key scene, you’ll want to consider the following:


Choose a background that complements your subject.

A black or white background can be used for any subject, but if you want something more specific, try using props and accessories that match your subject’s color palette.

For example, if you’re photographing flowers in shades of pink and purple with green leaves, try using a white canvas as your backdrop; it will make those colors pop!

Use lighting wisely when shooting indoors–it’s best not to rely on natural light alone because it can often result in harsh shadows on one side of the face (or both).

Instead of relying solely on overhead lights or lamps with bright bulbs directly overhead (which usually cast unflattering shadows), try turning them off altogether and using only indirect sources like table lamps placed around the room at different heights instead–this will allow more even illumination throughout the space without creating any harsh shadows anywhere else besides under eyes if someone looks straight into them!

Composition in Low-key Photography

When you’re shooting a low-key image, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your composition is as strong as possible.

Choose the right angle.

You want your subject matter to be at an angle that’s not too straight on or off center.

This helps draw attention towards it and away from any distractions behind or around it.

Use the rule of thirds:

Divide up your frame into three equal parts by imagining two horizontal lines and two vertical lines intersecting at each corner (see illustration below).

Focus on placing important elements along these lines rather than directly in the center of your shot; this will create more interesting compositions with less clutter around them!

Use leading lines:

Leading lines help direct viewers’ eyes through an image by drawing them into certain areas while avoiding others–it’s like having someone guide you through their house while they show off their favorite pieces!

You can achieve this effect using natural elements such as trees or fences; artificial ones like string lights or neon signs; or even just by using shadows cast by light sources such as lamps or windowsills onto walls behind them

Editing Low-key Photographs

Once you’ve taken your photos, it’s time to edit them.

There are several ways to do this, but the most important thing is that you don’t overdo it.

Adjusting brightness and contrast:


This can be done by clicking on “Edit” in your photo editor (Photoshop or GIMP), then going into “Image” and selecting “Adjustments.”

From there, select “Brightness/Contrast” from the drop-down menu.

You’ll be able to adjust both sliders until you find something that looks good for your image.

If there are parts of your photo that look too dark or light compared with other parts of it, use these sliders so they match up better together!

Adjusting levels:

Another way to adjust brightness/contrast is through levels; this option can also help balance out colors if needed as well!

To access this tool in Photoshop CS6+, go into Image > Adjustments > Levels…and then play around with all three sliders until everything looks balanced out nicely 🙂

Adding grain:

Grain helps give photos an old-school feel so they don’t look too modernized when printed out onto paper–it also helps enhance shadows!

Low-key Photography Tips

Use a wide aperture.

A wide aperture will allow you to capture more light, which is essential for low-key photography.

Use a slower shutter speed.

A slower shutter speed allows you to blur out any movement in your image and create a dreamy effect that works well with low key images.

Use high ISO settings on your camera if you’re shooting indoors or at night time because this will help reduce the amount of noise in your photos (noise being those tiny little dots that appear when there’s too much light).

Set up your shot so that it’s lit by natural light only–this can be done by using lamps or candles instead of flashlights!

Famous Low-key Photographers

  • Ansel Adams,
  • Diane Arbus,
  • Edward Weston,
  • Man Ray.

Low-Key Photography – Summary

Low-key photography is a great way to create dramatic and atmospheric photographs.

With the right equipment, techniques and patience you can create stunning images.