Best Ways To Photograph A Dark Skin Tone Person

Everyone can pose in front of a camera. Good pictures can be shot of anyone, irrespective of their appearance. All you need is a good camera, lighting set up and the camera can work wonders to accentuate the features of the person being photographed. Taking pictures of a dark-skinned person is no different than anyone else. All it needs is a different setup, lighting to hit the best angles and highlights of the model. Getting the right exposure can be a bit tricky at times.



Surprising as it may seem, photographers prefer to work with dark-skinned people, since there are much more drama and depth to the picture. it’s a never-ending challenge. You may have to play around with the exposure setting and making sure you focus on getting the right skin tone perfectly before worrying about other colors in the photograph. You can check whether the person has a cool undertone or a warm undertone and accordingly use that color for outfit or backdrop.

There are many more ways you can explore while shooting a dark-skinned person. So if you are still wondering, “What are the best ways to photograph a dark skin tone person? Let’ start with step by step.


1. Photographing A Dark Skinned Person Outdoor :

While shooting someone with dark skin tone in an outdoor location, there are few things that one should be kept in mind to get the best results. It may not be the same as shooting someone who has a lighter skin tone. The way a to photograph a dark skin tone person outdoor requires different settings, that fits these time frames: Early morning, Before Sunset (Golden Hour), While afternoon sun can burn fair skin tones in the photograph, but in such cases it can work to the advantage of dark skin tones as they come out well in bright exposures.


  • Early Morning And Golden Hours Are The Best :



Lighting plays a very major role in any skin tone. But it’s best to shoot early morning or in the early evening light as it not only highlights your best features but also helps to avoid blinking or squinted eyes in the picture, which is a common problem in the case of the bright afternoon sun or breezy late evenings. Even if you are shooting at daytime when the sun is over your head, try places that have evenly shaded areas to avoid overexposure.


  • Always Avoid Dark Backgrounds :



If you are not using any external light source outdoor then you must avoid dark backgrounds. The dark skin tone on the dark background doesn’t create much contrast, hence, your picture can miss depth. Rather opt for lighter or brighter backgrounds that creates more contrast and drama to make the photograph better. When you photograph a dark skin tone person you can still use dark backgrounds, but then it is recommended to use a light source separately both on the background and on the subject.


  • Pick The Outfit According To Backdrop :



Along with the right light source and other photography settings, another essential factor is your outfit and colors. If you are planning for a photo shoot always carry at least 2-3 outfits, so you could choose the best one according to the background. If it’s an outdoor shoot it can get more challenging with the colors of the background and outfit. Suppose you are wearing any light colored outfit, so you’ll have to find a background that reflects the bright color. If it’s an indoor shoot it’s much simpler.


2. Photographing A Dark Skinned Person Indoor :

Shooting indoor doesn’t have much light for obvious reasons therefore in most cases you might need an external source of light too. When you photograph a dark skin tone person in an indoor studio setting or location. That’s not it, it can make your skin look darker than it is if the lighting is not proper. Here are a few ways you can get a good photograph for a dark skin tone.


  • Put A Light Source Closer To The Subject :



When you don’t have much light in the room and your subject is dark skinned then you should always place a light source perhaps a dim light near to the subject. This will give the face and body depth with shadows and highlights. While shooting photograph a dark skin tone person, place them close to the soft light source. This way the light source doesn’t be too harsh.

When people with different skin tones are shot, place the primary light source closer to the subject with a darker skin tone. In this case, you may have to work harder during the post editing to ensure the subjects with lighter skin aren’t too bright or the subject with a darker skin tone isn’t underexposed.


  • Use Doors And Windows As A Natural Source Of Light :



Instead of always using external light sources, you should use the natural light source which comes through the door or windows. Some cases the natural light source is a better option. Place your subject closer to the light but not directly in front of it to avoid a harsh contrast. The lighting will change depending upon the time you are shooting. So start experimenting with it to get the perfect shot.


  • Keep The Lighting Off The Walls For A More Cinematic Feel :



Using a direct light source when you photograph a dark skin tone person can sometimes ruin the picture. Instead, you can use a reflector to bounce the harsh light or use a flash diffuser to create light that’s less harsh. This gives your picture depth and makes your picture better. And it makes the skin tone appear much better.


  • Embrace The Beauty Of A Well-lit Silhouette :



Sometimes harsh light in the back can make a perfect silhouette that falls in the perfect angle. If your subject is standing in front of a strong light source, like a sunny window or a bright neon light display, capture a photo of their silhouette. You can add some of the desired details if the position your camera in a creative angle.


3. Camera Settings When Photograph A dark Skin Tone Person :



We know that taking a photo in auto-mode is a lot easier for beginners. But if you do not use manual exposure mode while clicking people with the dark complexion you won’t get the right shot. It doesn’t matter what time of the day you are shooting, you need to play around with the exposure until you get the perfect setting. Make sure to check the aperture as well, it’s recommended to open up the aperture to let more light. So first take some test shots, get the perfect setting and start clicking.


4. Things That Can Ruin Pictures Of People With Dark Complexion :



For both portrait and wide angle shot, skin tone is a must to focus on. Fair or Dark skin, Skin that looks even and fresh help your subject to look healthy, energetic, and more youthful. Unfortunately, there are many elements that can ruin the skin tone in a photo. Some are caused by camera settings, by light, and others by post-processing. Let’s talk about some of these problems, and how to prevent them!


  • Wrong White Balance :

When it comes to photograph a dark skin tone person, remember that auto white balance is the enemy. It can give you inconsistent results in your portraits as it gets easily distracted by the color in the background and the subject’s clothing. You can place a color checker as a reference target in your shot before you start shooting, this way you can ensure the colors are correct in the image.


  • Using The “Wrong” Quality Of Light :

The rough texture is really bad when you want to photograph a dark skin tone person. The lighting you opt for in your shoot can set the whole mood of the portrait, therefore you must get the right quality of light on the skin to set the mood right. You can find a modifier in the market, which is often known as a “beauty dish’ This makes the skin soft and hides blemishes, blotchiness, and wrinkles. It reduces the texture and acts like a softbox in the image.


  • Color Contamination :

While shooting outdoors, the photograph is prone to color contamination, as the sun reflects from the colors around and overpowers the image. This can happen even in studio photography too. This can negatively impact the color of your skin. Therefore you can use daylight balancing strobes to ensure desired skin tone.


  • Retouching/ Final Finishing :

Last but definitely not least is to retouch your images. The primary goal of retouching is to get rid of any imperfections and degrade the texture and quality of the skin. When you photograph a dark skin tone person, you must study their skin tone and try to bring the best in the post editing. Don’t try to lighten or change the skin tone. The dark tone is beautiful, and once you smoothen it out, add highlights and shadows to the frame, you will see how dramatic and amazing the picture will turn out.


5. How To Edit Pictures For People With Dark Skin Tone :


  • How To Retouch Dark Skin Tone In Photoshop :


  • How To Edit Dark Skin Tone In Lightroom :


That’s everything you need to know about how to photograph a dark skin tone person. You can achieve the perfect shot once you master skin tone challenges. If you have your lights set right, the right colors in the frame, and good post-production and retouching techniques, then you will have an amazing photo at the end of it!


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