• PhotoMahnaz

How to Make a Black Background in Studio Photography

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

To make a dark and black background in studio photography you need to know some essential tips. Here are:

​3 Tips to make Perfect Black Background in Studio Photography:

1- Use a black backdrop

The first step to have a black background is to use a black backdrop. This is the easiest way to have a successful dark background. Do not light the background.

If your background shines and is not black, don’t worry, this can be adjusted in post-processing.

2- Light the subject, not the background

Keep your subject forward, the less light that hits the background, the darker it will be. If you can get the subject lit more brightly than the background, that will push the background into the underexposed, dark areas, outside the camera’s more limited dynamic range.

3- Correct camera settings

Individual camera settings will depend on you as a photographer, this is under your control. Because You don’t want to be taking too much light with your camera, so:

1- Turn your camera to manual mode

2- Set faster shutter speed, 1/160 or faster

3- Adjust your aperture to smallest number until the picture is completely black. This will usually be f/10 and smallest. You can adjust the aperture until the brightness on the model looks right.

4- Adjust your ISO as low as is possible (usually ISO 100)

Model Studio Photography in Black Background
Model Photography in Black Background

Family & Pregnancy Studio Photography in Black Background
Family & Pregnancy Photography in Black Background

Low Key and Black Background Photography

We can consider the style and the way of black background and Low Key Photography the same thing, the only thing is:

- Low key photography is always in black background, but

- The black background photography can be low key or not.

​What is Low Key Photography?

Low key refers to a style of photography that uses mainly dark tones to create a dramatic looking picture. Low key lighting increases the contrast in an image through extremely reduced lighting.

The low key technique uses a lot of darker tones, shadows and blacks. Photos taken in low key lighting have very minimal amounts of mid-tones and whites.

Low Key Photography Lighting Tips:

​For low key photography in studio you need to use just one source of light for subject. For background, avoid using any bright or whites or any light. Use deep black or something with a similar kind of darkness.

Because very little will be visible in a low key image, it is important to carefully decide where you want the light to fall; this also means you have to control where the light doesn’t fall.

In order to obtain high contrast in your low key images, side lighting your subject will work much more effectively than lighting from front side. There is no correct side to shoot from, this is up to you as the photographer to choose which side of your subject you want to keep dark, or which side you decide works more effectively. Put the light as close as possible to the subject.

Our main goal is to highlight a specific area in the image. This can be done by right positioning your subject and light, so that your shadows fall in the right place; this will ensure you obtain that dramatic, dark and hard-hitting image that you are looking for.

Low Key Wedding Photography With Black Background
Low Key Wedding Photography

Low Key Portrait Photography With Black Background
Low Key Portrait Photography


Low key photography is challenging because it requires you to create an intentionally deep dark background while still properly exposing your subject. Once you learn how to use exposure compensation, you’ll be able to create perfect deep dark backgrounds and well exposed subject in just a few minutes.

Low Key = Dark (low amounts of light)

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