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Lighting for Dark Skin Tones

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Mar 07

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Photographing Someone With Dark Skin

Lighting for Dark Skin Tones.
In this episode we show you how using a bigger, higher power fill light will help fill in detail when taking photos of someone with brown skin tones. It’s always better to add contrast and darken your shadows in photoshop so you don’t lose information in the shadows. This way you can be sure you’re getting the best exposure since light colors reflect light and dark colors absorb it.


  • 1:00 -Light setup
  • 1:50 – Shooting without a fill light
  • 2:40 – Adding in a fill below
  • 3:30 – Comparing the two images
  • 4:30- Photographing lighter skin with and without fill
  • 6:00 Do you have any advice

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  • Scott Mains

    Nice vid. I’ve found (mainly through shooting nightclub photography) when you have a latte and a mocha people together, the lighting can be quite difficult to get right. Granted it is through ETTL and speedlites, and time is incredibly limited in photographing people in this dynamic environment. I tend to push the phlash (see what I did there) by 1/3 – 1/2 stop, as ETTL seems to favour latte flavours… I’m sure the camera brands don’t have a hidden agenda against the wonderful flavours of the world, but the cameras metering is only as good as the person that programmed it. 

    I still shoot some film in the studio. I can be a bit old school and use the old ‘expose to the right’ technique generally exposing the subject around 2/3 of a stop higher… film has a better tolerance for this where as digital it can be quite risky (blowing out highlights). 

    Ultimately it is down to the aesthetic that the client and photographer mutually decide upon, I’ve worked with people who prefer fill, and others who prefer it without. More people tend to prefer fill. 

  • Mel

    I have found darker skins can sometimes have a shiny look when using flash. What’s with that? 

  • Connor Young

    my thinking is that white highlights on white skin aren’t as obvious as white highlights on dark skin!

  • Connor Young

    To see more mocha models its our job as photographers to show that were shooting them! be the trend people!

  • Bob

    My mentor the regretted Dean Collins, was saying that for white people the from is define from shadows and for darker skin with highlights

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