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The Right Light


Skin tones enriched with caramel, mocha, chocolate and dark chocolate have finally been getting the attention to lighting that darker skin tones require in tv and film industries. Shows such as Insecure, Queen Sugar, and Atlanta have been examples of how applying lighting techniques for a range of brown/black skin can make all the difference in how the actor appears on camera. The keyword being appears, Hollywood and big networks have invested in making dark skin not appear exactly as it is...dark. Which is not the issue, the issue is light, just give us some more.



As the community of melanin carriers know dark skin is beautiful, it drinks light, it glistens in the sun, it is also very versatile in certain lighting. With that being said I would like to throw up a few pictures from scenes of movies that give melanin rich skin tones amazing light.




For those who have an interest in lighting I found some basic tricks that you can learn and apply in your projects. A few tips that Ask Aputure, a Youtube Channel that created a list of 7 Tips for Lighting Dark Skin noted as some go to techniques, are as follows:

  • Subjects with brown/dark skin should be exposed around 45-50 ire

  • Have a strong diffuser handy (examples include shower curtains, muslin fabric, magic cloth, diffusion grid cloth, silks, ect.) if you are trying to accomplish different moods looks for example use magic cloth or full grid if you would like your subject to have a pretty/dreamy/romanticized look. Shower curtains are good for giving your subject a harsher and mysterious feel. If you are lacking diffusion options get closer to your subject and dial down the intensity of your key light.

  • Being closer to your subject will soften the light on them and bring out more of their features.

  • Brighten your accents to aide in bringing out the features in darker subjects so that it will contrast the subject from their background more and add depth to the overall scene.

  • Have an eye light for darker eyes to help them pop more. You can place the eye light directly across from the subject to add detail, emotion and depth to their eyes.

  • Light mixing is important for darker skin tones. A cool light or lavender gel can assist in bringing out your actor's features.

  • Relying on makeup artist will save a lot of time with lighting and help correct the issues you may not be able to fix with lighting and diffusions. Using reflective base makeup, powders and foundations assist in making darker skin tones look their best on camera.

The link is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERZLPePsN9s if you would like to check out the video.