How to do High Key Portrait Photography on a Budget

High key portrait photography is a style of photography that utilizes bright lighting to blow out the dark shadows in an image. The images are thus relatively flat and lack most tonal variations. When done correctly, high-key portraits result in images with an elegant and premium look. However, when it comes to photographing high-key images, the gears do not necessarily have to be heavy on the pockets. In today’s video, photographer Gavin Hoey with Adorama takes on a low-cost lighting challenge and shows how you can take high-key portraits in a small home studio:

Hoey uses a stretched white fabric for the background as an alternative to a white wall. He also uses a net curtain for the model to play with, and a simple flash with a softbox for lighting. To build on the high key look, the model also puts on white clothes along with some white make-up.

As Hoey demonstrates in the video, it’s important that you don’t leave the flash in TTL mode. Due to the whites in the scene, you’ll end up with a grey-looking scene this way. So, take control of the lighting by switching the flash to manual mode.

He also shows you how you can place the light in a way to avoid the shadows within your frame. And it’s also important that you place the light close to the subject and the background to prevent them from appearing grey.

Towards the end of the video, Hoey also shares how you can get a reduced saturation and skin tone look. This simple adjustment can greatly enhance the look of your final image.

If you’ve been wanting to try out high-key portrait photography, be sure to watch the complete video. You’ll be amazed to see how simply you can do so using minimal equipment.

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