You probably found this article because you are intimidated by photographing dark skin. The truth of the matter is, it’s far less intimidating than you’d think. There are some mistakes that you should definitely avoid and I will address those.
The exposure meter is your best friend in photography. Any modern camera built-in meter is more than sufficient on determining correct exposure. So you probably wondering what you have to set your exposure to in order to capture dark skin easily. Here is the secret…you don’t expose differently at all.
Working with dark skin is the same as working with white skin. You, of course, have to think about undertones and how they may be different than white skin. Overall, your biggest concern should really be making sure you are capturing the most flattering images you can. I mentioned a moment ago how there are some MAJOR MISTAKES to avoid and it really boils down to one issue.
When you get your images all loaded up into photoshop or lightroom you start to tinker with the overall lighting and colors in the pictures. After a fair amount of time, you look at your results and are thrilled with such the beautiful images you are providing to your customer. You sent them off with excitement.
The next day you get an email. Your customer is not happy with the images. You are floored because this may be the best work you’ve put out. You email your customer back to ask what was wrong. You finally get a reply and learn how large of a mistake you’ve made. The customer says you have changed their dark skin tone and lightened them up!
For some people being lightened up is ok. As a rule of thumb, you should do everything you possibly can to avoid changing your customers’ skin color. This can be highly offensive and disappointing for many. Don’t be lazy and just take the time to properly process the image.
There is one secret tool I keep in my arsenal and that’s an X-Rite Color Checker Passport 2. It’s a great tool that is easy to carry around. Most importantly it helps capture the most accurate colors possible. Taking a second to use one in a shoot will set you apart from your competition and also make your post-processing workflow far easier.
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