Wanna know how we edit our photographs to flatter darker skin tones in Lightroom such as my own? Check out our post featuring my go-to tips!
A question I have seen floating around both on the internet and in my analytics is how to edit photographs for darker skin tones. As someone who has a darker complexion, I can attest to the fact that there aren’t many presets out there for people with dark skin tones. I can also admit that it’s really difficult, unless you frequently photograph people with those skin tones, to identify what colors and hues tend to work best.
In the past, I have tried everything from adjusting the saturation to removing the shadows and while in some cases that’s worked, as with all photo editing, you still have to tweak things depending on the subjects in your photos.
However, I’m confident I’ve found some things that work generally well for me, regardless of the preset when trying to embrace and highlight the beautiful deep tones rather than wash them out. Want to know how I do it?
ADJUST THE LIGHTING:
Since I like my photographs to be pretty light for the most part, when I edit my photographs I typically up the exposure a little bit. Depending on the natural light in the photograph, I also adjust the shadows more to the right, drag the whites more to the right depending on the amount of light in the photograph at that point and the blacks to the left.
INCREASE THE SHADOWS:
As alluded to above, I normally increase the shadows in the photograph. Doing so not only lightens the photograph, but it softens in a little bit so that it’s a little wispier and not as harsh.
INCREASE THE SATURATION & VIBRANCY:
Depending on the lighting, I will increase the saturation and vibrancy of the photograph since that can easily get lost as you brighten it. I’ll increase it only a little bit, however, because the next step is one where I focus on dragging out more of the colors.
ADJUST THE COLORS:
This probably goes without saying, but it’s the one thing I do for each photograph, regardless of the skin tone of the person in the photo. We all have undertones and the trick is often figuring out what that undertone is and then playing the color settings for the color that’s closest to it. For example, in a lot of my photographs, depending on the setting I’m in, I am usually closer to the magenta and red undertone so I will adjust those colors accordingly.
The trick is the darker the subject’s skin tone, you want to go towards the left on the bar and the lighter the subject’s skin tone you want to go towards the right. For pretty much all tones, I stay towards the left however because the lighter you go, the less that color is visible, but the darker you go the more potent it is. I would be careful not to go too far to the left as it may end up looking very red and rosy.
SHARPEN THE PHOTOGRAPH:
Depending on the way the photograph looks at that point, I’ll then sharpen the photograph a little bit so that it doesn’t look completely matte. I like a nice balance of matte and sharpness to most of my photographs, depending on the setting and the purpose of the photograph. A little sharpening just helps the photograph stand out a little more without looking gritty.
UTILIZE OUR FREE PRESETS:
I am big on using presets. Even when I wasn’t making my own, I would start with using the ones already in Lightroom as a base or ones that I purchased in the past and go from there. It saves so much time with editing and by the point that I was making my own based on certain settings and environments, it really carved off a lot of time that I’d normally spend editing each photograph. In fact, one of my absolute favorite presets to use that I created is now one we’re selling on our shop!
If you’re short on time, I created quite a free preset for you to use just for this purpose! As with all presets, they aren’t one-click fixes so you will probably have to make some adjustments here and there, but for the hard work is done for you. Feel free to download your free presets by using the form below.