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High-Key VS Low-Key Lighting Explained Simply by Lindsay Adler

by Casey Cosley
photo & video


Fashion Photographer Lindsay Adler has been spent a lot of time teaching in the halls of CreativeLive. During Photo Week 2016 her class The Highs and Lows of Lighting: Controlling Mood with Lightone topic she covered was understanding what the differences are between high-key and low-key lighting.

In the snippet of her entire class (video below) she breaks down not only what high-key and low-key lighting are, but also how they can be applied for just the right effect and mood.


Low-Key is predominantly darker tones. There’s more shadows to the image. There’s more true blacks.”


“With High-Key, it’s lighter tones, it’s brighter, and minimal shadows.”

In The Highs and Lows of Lighting: Controlling Mood with Light, Lindsay gives you more than just a description. She dives in how to achieve this effect with your lighting setup, how she directs a her model to further accentuate the light, and how YOU can use these techniques make images that will leave your clients picking their jaws up off the floor.

The refresher for you out there at home with lighting styles and a easy to understand and replicate resource for those just getting into lighting techniques. So click on that play button and be ready to jot down some notes.

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Casey Cosley

As a Seattle-based photographer, I incorporate the culture and style of the city into the sense and attitude of my work. I deliver a stunning and vibrant body of work for my clients, and am available for commercial & editorial travel and/or location photo assignments worldwide. Check out my work on Instagram.