How to light...er, um...African Americans?

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by metroshane, Sep 2, 2003.

  1. metroshane
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    metroshane New Member

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    I'm going to be taking some pics of a black friend and he said something that really worried me. He said most protographers never get good lighting on him and he always blends in with the background (He wants a Noir-ish black background). I've never really taken studio pics of an african american and have really never thought about special lighting cirumstances. What are the other photogs doing wrong that I should avoid? I'm thinking I need to pull him away from the back ground, light him with a key, a fill, and possibly a back light to separate him from the background?
  2. Dew
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    Dew New Member

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    hehehehehehe :lol: ...

    im not gonna pretend like im an expert on photographing african-americans ... i have shot a few and being one myself :oops: .. i can share with you some obsticles my hubby has faced while shooting me...

    frankly, i think its not much to it ... when i photograph people in a studio setting, i always go full manual (shutter speed, aperture, focus .. sometime auto focus) ... i have a basepoint of shutter speed 200 (good for the lighting in my studio) and go up or down from there.. keeping in mind that there are over 30 shades of african-americans .. im on the darker side, but my skin has an olive tone from the native american in me ... so keep that in mind.

    lots of time i have trouble photographing my hubby because he's on the brighter side ... most times he comes out over-exposed so i have to adjust the settings to fit his skin color (which takes about 10 test shots to get it right :?)


    another thing u want to keep in mind is background color is important ... complimentary ... me for example, i look better on a black background as oppose to a white ... i've also notice trends for shooting african-americans where the background color is yellow, which i think looks absolutely fabulous (im gonna invest in some of that yellow)


    but the general rule is i'd say, even if its the same race of people ... the settings have to be adjusted accordingly .. dont assume if their "caucasian" for example .. their all the same color ... cause i can bet my bottom dollar that my hubby is amongst the brightest when that flash hits his face ..


    there is no magic bullet or other special lighting condition's i'd say, i would just say, adjust, adjust, adjust ... try to keep his skin color to the truest .... move your lighting around ... and play with the manuals until you ... ooops!!! are u on film or digital? ... :scratch:

    u think u can post a sample photo of him?
  3. metroshane
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    metroshane New Member

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    Thanks for the help. I was hoping you would show up because your skin tones are remarkable. I'm digital with fully manual options...so that shouldn't be a problem.

    I don't feel comfortable posting pics of him yet because he's a local doctor and I'd want to get his permisson first. The hardest part is going to be that he is on the dark side and his wife is on the light side. It'll be a fun experience though.
  4. Dew
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    Dew New Member

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    i was gonna mention u are going to have a huge problem shooting him with a lighter color person ... me and my hubby take the worst photos together ... the contrast between our skin is so drastic, the camera cant do it properly :?

    if im taking the photograph of us together, most time i adjust the exposure to his color and usually have to brighten me up seperatly with lasso and curves
  5. Dew
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    Dew New Member

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    im gonna be photographing an african-american male this sunday ... he's a writer and want some publicity shots ... studio, portrait "moody" style ... i'll post some test shots i usually take before to get the lighting right .. he's rather dark (about 2-3 shades darker than me) ...

    most likely im gonna usa a black and grey background (both) .. maybe white bg just to see the results, but i dont think the white background is gonna be promising ... im thinking most of his portraits will be b&w ... but i'll do a few color just for variety
  6. metroshane
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    metroshane New Member

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    thanks a bunch...I can't wait to see them.
  7. Dew
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    Dew New Member

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    the guy stood me up ... :pissed: ... but i pulled some pics from the archive .. these photos are not retouched, just resized


    here's a pic of me alone.. this is more to my true color *how cheesy is that smile*

    [​IMG]


    here's a pic of me and my knucklehead hubby (doxx) :lol: :
    notice how much underexposed i am than the first pic of me ... we always have this problem :roll:

    [​IMG]
  8. metroshane
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    metroshane New Member

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    Wow your skin tones are beautiful in that first one. I'm sure a lot of it's genetics though. I see what you mean about the second one. He's a little over exposed and you're a little under.

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