High key photography, when done properly, can yield some spectacular results. Originally developed, in part, as a means of overcoming the fact that early film and television were severely limited in their ability to handle high contrast situations, the technique was soon adopted by photographers as yet another creative way to express mood — typically a happy or energetic mood.
While the high key look can be achieved in Photoshop, purists will insist on doing it the “right” way: using multiple light sources, bumping up exposure a bit, etc. True high key photography is not about overexposure; it is, rather, about bright, nondirectional lighting and a lack of contrast and shadows. Naturally, there is some degree of stylistic subjectivity to account for and not every photo that fancies itself a high key image will match the criteria for high key imagery point for point. Sometimes that’s okay.
Here are 16 radiant examples of high key imagery.