What Does Low Key Mean When Talking About Taking Photos?

Have you ever heard a photographer describe a photograph as being ‘low key’ and wondered exactly what they meant? When talking about photographs a low key picture is a picture which contains a lot of shadows and darker tones, and therefore very little in the way of highlights and visible detail. Low key images often appear dark and brooding with an almost palpable sense of menace, but can also be extremely powerful. Low key images also often leave a lot of detail hidden in the shadows, allowing the viewers imagination to run wild filling in the darker spaces.