Lighting Darker Skin

I’ve always loved working with darker skinned models but it definitely has presented challenges for me. I had gone through a week or so where I photographed a number of African American women and though each of these women was beautiful on just about every level I found myself spending more time than usual in post production. There were issues with shine, blemishes that were unseen while photographing popping up after loading  and a couple of others. My first thought was asking my models to wear foundation but in essence it was really my job to find a solution.

So I did my research and I learned that light skin and dark skin call for different lighting. While light skin bounces the light it receives. Black skin has a way of absorbing the light. Thus magnifying the smallest of imperfection. By changing the lighting from the front of the model to the side around the face , thus  wrapping her with light,  I saw a big difference. I also brought  in an extra light which I placed at 90∘.  This lifted the shadows while not obscuring the details of the portrait. Though I have yet to perfect this technique. I’m excited to have found an answer.  It just goes to prove that with every problem lies a solution. And though sometimes the first instinct is to panic or give up. It’s always better to do your research. The answers are out there. It’s just a matter of asking the right questions.

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