When it comes to photographing interracial couples, there are many factors that come to play: light, background, color cast, the comfort of your tech skills when operating the camera, etc. In this blog post I will share some tips for photographing interracially mixed couples so that everyone looks their best!
Expose properly because your iPhone won’t
Have you ever tried to take a selfie and clicked on your face so that your phone would auto-correct lighting? If you’re standing next to someone with darker skin than yourself, you’ll likely find that if you click yourself, your friend’s face will look like they’re in pitch black. If you click their face, your face may now as pale as Casper the ghost.
I get it. I’ve been there.
This is a situation where “auto exposure” and “auto white balance” fail. The technology is trying. It really is. It gets an A for effort. It’s saying “I see the darkest point and I see the lightest point in the photo, but I’m struggling.
This is where newer photographers fail, as well.
This human is smarter than the camera. This human knows to expose properly, using three specific functions: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. With some quick math, I can identify what settings to set the camera to so that all skin tones can look their best.
Look for good light first, then location
Newer photographers will immediately go for the pretty background – the ocean, the lush greenery, or the colorful flowers.
If the light is even, soft, diffused, and flat, then anyone can take a photograph almost everywhere. Your toddler or drunk uncle will be able to steal your phone and take some beautifully evenly balanced photographs.
If this is the case for your engagement photos or your wedding, you’re in luck.
If you are the other 99%, then you’ll need a photographer that can say, “I’m going to ignore my instincts of finding the pretty trees, and instead, look for good light, first”.
Light ALWAYS dictates where I shoot, if I’m shooting natural light. I have plenty of artificial lights if I need to supplement, but on a wedding day, often there’s little to no time.
“What’s good light”, you ask?
Well, that’s a workshop for another time.
I will say that after photographing hundreds of weddings, I’ve learned to be able to photograph in the trickiest of lighting situations – dark basements, ballrooms with high ceilings, barns with warm colored wood, etc.
Select a background with appropriate colors
I’m ethnically Chinese, and I have yellow undertones in my skin. This is why I tend to not wear a lot of yellow colored clothing. Putting me against a yellow wall probably wouldn’t look great, because it would bring out those undertones.
You know how sometimes when someone has blue eyes and they wear clothing that “brings out their eyes”, yes…that.
Except the complete opposite.
After I find the good light, I look for a good background.
Be aware of color casts from your surroundings
White is the blending of all colors and is a color.
Explanation: Light appears colorless or white. Sunlight, which includes all visible wavelengths of light that we can see with our eyes in different proportions, has been described as “white” because it contains every other wavelength when seen through its brightness range spectrum; meaning that this form creates an appearance where no one single hue stands out more than another – making up what’s known scientifically as ‘achromaticity’.
If we’re in a field of green, depending on where the sun is, the light can bounce the green-ness of the field and back onto your skin – making you have a little green tint.
Post-process in Photoshop, Lightroom, or Capture
No, this is not a “just fix it in photoshop” situation.
However, for some wedding couples, I only have a short amount of time to go to one specific spot to take a very important photo. I’m at the mercy of a timeline, and even though the light isn’t perfect, I’m going to do the best I absolutely can.
However, using Color Balance, Curves, and Layers, post-processing can do wonders!