Exposing High Key Photography

In my previous post I shared with you my own take on Low Key Photography. As a recap, it is a style that produces dramatic and sometimes negative images by utilizing dark tones and reduced or selective lighting. In case you missed it, just click on the link above or go to my home page.

That day when I discovered Low Key, I also came across another style of photography which has the exact opposite characteristics. It is the antithesis of Low Key and its name is a dead giveaway.


This style of photography is called High Key.

According to Google, High Key, in photography, is having a predominance of light or bright tones. This style usually makes use of a white background and the subject is lit very brightly to eliminate the shadows and reduce contrast. Sometimes the photos may look overexposed. I think, it is okay to have the background overexposed as long as the subject remains visible and sharp. Doing so will also make the background whiter and cleaner, thus, directing more attention to the subject. I prefer natural light in shooting High Key because it can easily provide the amount of exposure I need for my shot.

Sinulog Queen
“Sinulog Queen”

High Key photos exhibit a happy, lighthearted and positive mood. I think it fits perfectly in shooting portraits. In the three photos above, the focus has been directed towards the subject since there is nothing else in the photo that can steal it. Apart from the smiles, the use of white and bright background added a positive vibe to the already happy mood of the muses.

The Bench
“The Bench”

This style is also an eye candy to minimalists. I sometimes employ a minimalism when I take on my High Key shots. I personally like to use this style when I want to capture a clean and sleek photo. Although, it is sometimes difficult to achieve especially when a white background is not readily available. I am just thankful that mobile editing apps, like snapseed and lightroom mobile, were created. Enhancing my photos has become so easy and convenient.

Here are the rest of my bright High Key snaps.

Black and White

Church Bells
“Church Bells”
Dab Gang
“Dab Gang”
Where is the Sun
“Summer Heat”


Chicken Sisig
“Chicken Sisig”
Asus Temptress
“Asus Temptress”
Dragonfly's Profile
“Dragonfly’s Profile”

I think it is still acceptable that you use a background that is not completely white as long as it is light-colored, clean and bright. Also make sure that your entire photo is well-lit. In the first place, it was not defined as having white but only light or bright tones.

All photos were shot using my phone LG V20 and were enhanced through Snapseed and Lightroom Mobile.


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Great intro to high key photos. You are right about the change in mood from low key. I am going to try this with summer beach shots. Do you recommend a filter post processing or particular settings?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. Thanks for the visit and the comment.. With regard to your question, I don’t really recommend using a filter. I prefer you manually edit the photo. You can use either snapseed or lightroom mobile to enhance the brightness and exposure. Snapseed also has a brush tool that you can use to selectively tune your photo.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I love snapseed and have used Lightroom a few times. Thanks!


      2. You’re welcome


  2. rhamzkii says:

    Wow 😮

    Liked by 1 person

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