High-key lighting

High-key lighting is a style of lighting for filmtelevision, or photography that aims to reduce the lighting ratio present in the scene. 

High-key photography uses very bright lighting to display high contrast ratios and eliminate shadows. This style of photography is great for upbeat and positive shots. High-key is used for everything from babies and seniors through commercial photography. 


Proper equipment is crucial for achieving quality shots regardless of style. High-key lighting will require simple things like bright lights and a solid backdrop. Although you can reach a true white shot with just about any backdrop a solid white is easiest to start with. 

Ultimately you'll want three or even four lights. You'll need a seamless white background such as Pro Vinyl or our Diamond Cloth White. Recommended size for a background is 8-10 feet wide and 16-20 feet long. You want more than you'll need just to be safe. 

3-4 flash/strobe lights (Pro Series Lights)
White background (Vinyl or Diamond Cloth)

How to shoot 

Here's where things get fun. At this point you most likely have your background up on a stand and rolled out for your model/subject to pose on. You'll have whatever/whomever your shooting positioned centered, but distanced from the backdrop so that you can blow it out with lighting. Distance from the piece can range 3-6 feet. You'll use two lights to shoot behind your model towards the backdrop and two lights either side of the model. This will prevent shadows and give you great high contrast shots. 

Light meters in this case come in handy. Keeping your background lights a single f-stop above your main/fill lights will be your best bet. Proper lighting for your subject would be f/11 for this setup. 

*Important tip - you want to monitor light bouncing back off of your background. Light bouncing back can cause awkward haze/halos around your subject. This can be fixed by using a different backdrop, dialing down your lights a bit or even spacing your model a little further from the background.