Portrait Photography Tip: How to Create a Low-Key Portrait with Ease

Last Updated on November 12, 2021 by Peter Wood

Low-key photography is genre photography made up of shooting dark-colored scenes and emphasizing specific objects in the frame. The Low-key portrait is one of the most challenging types of photography for any range of photographers. What are the low-key portrait photo and the differences between low-key and high key? The article focuses on low-key portraits, which can add drama and hard-hitting emotion to a portrait photo.

Create a Low-Key Portrait

Part 1: Best Tips You Should Know about Low-Key Portrait

A low-key portrait utilizes a dark tone background to highlight the object and create a dramatic-looking image. It requires several instruments, a camera, a tripod, one light source, no matter natural or artificial, a black background.

1. Camera. More and more people take photos with smartphones. When it comes to low-key portraits, you can use a digital camera since you can set and control the shot.

2. Tripod. Low-key portraits are still photos. You’d better use a tripod or steady surface to avoid flutter. Of course, you can also put a camera within a stable place for shooting.

3. Light source. To get the best out of your low-key portraits, you should always concentrate on illumination and elimination. Unlike other photos, low-key portrait images only require one light source, so you should consider where you want the light to fail. That depends on a strong personal opinion or preference regarding which side or angle to shoot.

4. Dark background. If you have a studio, it is easy to get a dark image background. Besides, you can achieve it with some tips:

Find a black backdrop, which is the easiest way to have a dark background.

Stand in front of the background. The less light that hits the background image, the darker it will be.

Keep your ISO as low as possible to prevent noise and too much light.

With the four requirements, you can start taking a low-key portrait.

Part 2: How to Shoot A Low-Key Portrait as A Beginner

Shooting a low-key portrait in a studio environment is easier than you think. However, the photography studio is not only expensive but also inconvenient to make low-key portraits for beginners. Here are the steps below that can help you shoot low-key portrait images at home as a professional.

Step 1: Create a dark environment

Make a black background. You can utilize any item to create a dark tone, such as dark sheets or the grey wall.

Then draw the curtains and make sure to block sunlight completely. Prepare a movable light source, like a table lamp.

Move the model and the light away from the background. You will notice that the light on the subject stays the same while the image background turns darker. If you put the light to one side of the model, the image background will turn darker. And the drama of the shot will increase.

You can test the distance and the angle until you are satisfied. You can also control the light by adding a grid.

Black Background

Step 2: Set your camera

The camera settings can vary widely to make low-key portraits. The general principle is to minimize the light entering your camera but not leading to everything too dark. We use a Canon EOS, for example, and set the exposure at 1/80 sec, the Aperture at f/6.3, and the ISO at 100. Shooting at ISO at 100 will keep the image quality staying high and void of color noise.

Canon DSLR Camera

Step 3: Practice the image shooting

Take your camera and press the shutter to shoot low-key portraits as much as possible. Practice is the best shortcut to making great low-key portraits.

Practice Shooting

Part 3: How to Touchup Low-Key Portrait with Ease

A low-key portrait has a strong comparison between the black background and the portrait image. When you need to touch up the portrait image, you should add some natural makeup filters with a light color. WidsMob Portrait Pro is a professional portrait-retouching program, which enables you to manage the skin, enhance the portrait, have makeup, and even apply presets for low-key portrait images with ease.

1. Provide skin management, portrait enhancements, and even makeup filters.

2. Tweak the detailed parameters with multiple presets for low-key portraits.

3. Customize and apply a preset of touchups with a series of makeup filters.

4. Advanced AI technology to detect the skin area and facial point with ease.

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How to Retouch Low-Key Portraits with High Comparison

Step 1: Download and install WidsMob Portrait Pro, launch the program on your computer. Click the Select Photos button in the home interface to import all low-key portraits you want to retouch. Click the Select Folder button to import all photos within a folder.

Portrait Pro Interface

Step 2: Once you have loaded the image, go to the Preset tab and choose the desired one to apply the desired one, such as the Smoothing + Remove Shine option. Moreover, it enables you to set the preset with all the low-key portraits within one click.

Choose Preset Portrait

Step 3: Choose the Edit tab and choose the Adjust Skin Area button to adjust the skin area, then click the Brighten Skin option to tweak the desired parameter. You can also brighten eyes, remove shine, lift cheek, remove blemish, and more to the portrait image.

Enhance Portrait

Step 4: Select the Makeup tab and choose the different templates for blush and customizing the color, customizing the lipstick, selecting a desired colored contacts, or even personalize the eye color, eyelashes, eyeliners, and the eye shadow according to your requirement.

Makeup Portrait

Step 5: Preview the low-key portrait and click the Export button to enter the desired file name, select the desired output size, photo quality, or even the photo format. After that, you can click the Start button to export the desired portrait to your hard drive.

Export Low Key Portrait
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The article is an ultimate review of a low-key portrait of more details about the definition, the method to shoot the low-key portrait image, and even touch up the portrait image according to your requirement. If you have any queries about the topic, you can share more details in the comments.