Let's talk makeup and spray tans!

Hey ladies! This post is for you: I want to talk about makeup and spray tans as part of your photo session prep. Before we get to that though, we need to talk Photoshop.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is whether I "Photoshop" a client's photos before delivering. This is always a longer answer than simply "yes" or "no," because when people think Photoshop, they generally think magazine-cover retouching. That's a no ghost rider. But  Ido use Adobe Camera Raw, which is Photoshop's reader for raw images (this is the format that photographers will shoot your session in: raw will store all the data so that the photographer can finalize it according to his/her own style, while JPEG allows the camera to guess at how the final photo should look and discards the remaining data). Using ACR, I am able to pull all your photos onto my computer and make basic corrections to things like exposure, tint, and white balance if needed, and it also lets me manipulate the tones, hues, saturation, etc. to fit my editing style. Once I'm done in ACR, the photo will open in Photoshop, where I will apply any finishing touches if they are needed.

Regarding finishing touches, I operate under a "here today, gone tomorrow" policy when finalizing a photo. I want every image to truly reflect you at your best, so I may edit out minor things such as the occasional blemish (here today, gone tomorrow...or next week) or distractions caused by an awkward angle and lens compression, such as a double chin that isn't generally there. I will not, however, make you look like someone or something you are not. I won't tuck your waist, trim your hips, or give you a thigh gap. I could talk all day about why I won't do this, but that's for another day. Today I want to get back to the minor things like blemishes.

Ladies, I completely understand wanting to look your best for your photos and a day-of zit is a total bummer. Or maybe it's early spring and you're still winter-white. I beg of you though: resist the urge to overdo it on makeup and for the love of all that is good, do NOT get that orange spray tan! If you must, go very light on your color. Here's why:

Have you ever noticed photos where the woman's skin looks orange or muddy or dull? Guess what? More often than not, it looks that way because she was wearing too much makeup or her tan was too thick. The single biggest factor, when it comes to skin tones being clean and glowing or orange and muddy, is light. Makeup and spray tans affect the way the light interacts with your skin, which is read by the camera. Although technology - and Photoshop - are great and can make up for a lot of "oops" moments (like underexposing a photo or messing up the white balance), it cannot completely make up for bad light. Now, you may have great light the day of and your S/O's skin tone may be gorgeous and glowing, but if the light is being absorbed by too much makeup or spray tan, it won't reflect and you won't have the opportunity for truly clean and glowing skin. Similarly, if your lotion or makeup has sunscreen in it, that will affect its appearance in photos as well: the sunscreen will actually reflect too much light and you may lose some detail in your face in those photos, or your face will appear significantly whiter than the rest of you. No bueno!

But what about that damn zit?? Don't stress it! Remember how I said I subscribe to that "here today, gone tomorrow" policy? This is why! I'd much rather you show up with fresh skin or minimal makeup, even if that thing is taking up precious real estate on your beautiful face, than have you try to cover it because it will cost you your skin tone in your photos. If those minor imperfections are truly distracting from the essence of the photo, I'll just "Photoshop" those little buggers out. I'll sacrifice my own bad skin by way of example: 

 Here is a side-by-side closeup (this photo was taken by Abby Glover and I edited it quickly for the sake of this post). Both photos are exactly the same, except I have removed the blemishes in the image on the right.   

Here is a side-by-side closeup (this photo was taken by Abby Glover and I edited it quickly for the sake of this post). Both photos are exactly the same, except I have removed the blemishes in the image on the right.   

Here is the full image so you can see what I mean about preserving the skin tones in the context of the image as a whole:

 

 See? It's bright, clean, and ghostly white. Per usual.

See? It's bright, clean, and ghostly white. Per usual.

Now let's contrast that with an example of orange/muddy skin tones. In the example below, the direction of the light is a little different, but you can clearly see that my skin looks dull and orange. Too much makeup that day. I knew better, but didn't resist that urge to overdo it.

 

 Same editing process, but you can see how much more natural Dylan's skin looks than my own. 

Same editing process, but you can see how much more natural Dylan's skin looks than my own. 

In sum, when it comes to makeup and tanning, less is more! While I do not expect anyone to show up on their wedding day sans makeup, I hope this helps alleviate some of that urge to cover everything or go a coat darker on that spray tan. I promise your natural skin color is beautiful and I can get rid of any pesky zits/discoloration that wouldn't otherwise be there, but  I can't recover naturally glowing skin if it's too far buried! 

If you have any questions about this topic in preparation for your session or your wedding day, I am more than happy to discuss it further!