Skin is one of the most important elements in beauty photography considering it often involves getting closeups of a model’s face. As it’s the body’s largest organ, we want skin to look vibrant and healthy, but it can be challenging to get it just right in photographs. With varying tones and textures, getting skin to look natural and authentic takes more than just a dependance on the frequency separation tool in Photoshop.
In the following webinar Lindsay Adler gives some beauty photography tips focusing on the five common things that “ruin skin” in your images; how to identify them, and how to avoid them so you can capture natural, creamy, vibrant skin every time.
Lindsay’s experience comes from working in the various genres of fashion, beauty, and editorial photography. When taking skin into consideration, Lindsay asks herself three things; is the COLOR correct (as in skin tone or for the specific project)? Is the TEXTURE ideal (for the type of image being made)? Is the tone correct (lightness, darkness, richness)?
Getting beautiful skin tones starts with what you capture with your camera; four of the five things on the list are things that can be corrected before post processing. So, here’s what you need to look out for when photographing skin:
Incorrect White Balance
Even with the high-quality cameras Lindsay shoots with like the Canon 5D Mark III or Canon 5DS R, auto white balance can be your enemy. Because white balance is affected by the other surrounding colors in the scene, the camera’s AWB can be tricked into shifting the colors too much.
If you have ever taken a photograph of someone in a room with red carpet, you’ll know color contamination. The reflection of the carpet (or anything else in the environment or subject’s clothes, etc.) can contaminate your color and add strange color tones to the subject’s skin. Unwanted ambient light in the studio can also affect the color and tone of skin causing the shadows to be discolored.
Color Management (or Lack Thereof)
Make sure that you have full control and are consistent from start to finish when it comes to managing your color. This starts with calibrating your camera, monitor and printer/lab. As this is a webinar for X-Rite Europe, Lindsay mentions some of the X-Rite products she uses to keep her equipment calibrated as well as some of the color settings she uses in Photoshop.
Wrong Quality or Direction of Light
As you’re capturing the image, you can change the light to make a big difference to make the skin look more flattering. When considering light, there are three things to consider: quality, direction, and intensity.
Each of these will affect skin drastically. Figure out how to balance the mood you’re trying to evoke in the image, the feeling and type of light you want, and how it will look on the skin.
Retouching is subjective – Some prefer more, others prefer less. Generally, three retouching problems that are often seen in beauty photography are: the skin looking too smooth which gives the face a plastic look; obvious cloning; and the removing of freckles.
In each of these five areas, Lindsay gives the solution on how to fix the issues from capture to post. This 53-minute video is full of useful beauty photography tips; Lindsay begins teaching at 1:20 if you wish to skip the webinar intro.