5 Tips to photographing interracial couples with different skin tones

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 in-camera, 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’m a Boston wedding photographer who also has been photographing for years around New England but I’ve been there just like many new photographers. 

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 on their wedding day.  

The Villa at Ridder Country Club Outdoor and Tent Wedding by Boston Wedding Photographer Nicole Chan Photography

Always look for good light first and then background second

During wedding days or pre- weddings shoots, 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 and there are a lot of moments to capture. 

“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. 

Indian Pond Country club south asian wedding photos in Kingston, MA

You want your subjects to be the focal point in photographs. If you are exposing for the sky without using a secondary light source, then they will look too dark and all that is seen of them is their silhouette which may not always work.

To get around this problem, avoid shooting at noon or if there’s no natural light available. Get creative, use flash lighting with either an assistant holding it off-camera or a reflector positioned on one side where needed. This can be used to fill up any shadows being casted by your subject’s face from overhead sunlight.

Also, make sure wedding hair doesn’t block out facial features!


Select a background with an appropriate color palette 

Photographers often take care in choosing the perfect backdrop for their subject – but what if your clients have drastically contrasting colors?

For example, say you’re photographing a dark-skinned wedding couple and this is important because of cultural significance or fashion style they want captured in photos. On the other hand though there might also be fair people who need to be highlighted as well. This makes backgrounds an especially tricky topic when considering how much contrast will make two life partners feel represented equally from one another.

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. 

Boston Indian Wedding Photographer Nicole Chan Photography

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, Capture One, or Affinity

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 capture 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! With post-process softwares, photos can look beyonds amazing and will still turn out perfect for viewing by friends and family!

Boston wedding photographer for interracial couples

Photographing interracial couples does present a number of challenges for Boston wedding photographers, but the benefits can be very rewarding. In order to successfully capture these types of weddings, you’ll need to understand how light and exposure work in your camera and know what type of backdrops will complement your subjects well. Doing some research beforehand on how other Boston wedding photographers have done this might help too!

We want to hear from our readers about their Boston photography experiences about interracially married couple or if they have any tips that we haven’t mentioned here yet – let us know in the comments below!

For more interracial weddings, you can find other amazing photography in this other blog: https://www.nicolechanphotography.com/erica-and-andres-midnight-garden-wedding-at-boston-four-seasons/

I’d love to chat with you! Email me here.

Similar Posts