How to Handle Skin Tones Photo Editing in Lightroom

Skin tone is one of those things that can make or break a photo, and beginners can find that getting the perfect skin tone in post-processing can take forever and a day. But there are a few things you can do to streamline your process and get great results at the same time. In the video below, wedding photographer Vanessa Joy shows us her super-speedy, same-day editing process, complete with her own import, actions, and scripts presets:

In reality, the best way to get the best skin tone in your portraiture is to get it right in camera. That means impeccable lighting and, where applicable, a great make-up artist. This will go a long way to making your editing quick, simple, and fairly pain-free (while yielding a great image on the output). Yet even the best of portraits usually need some tweaking, and knowing your style enough to have set up your own import presets will literally shave hours off your post-processing time. Vanessa Joy gives us a great example of the import preset below:

Lightroom Import Presets for Skin Tone

  • Exposure -.15
  • Contrast -10
  • Highlights -12
  • Shadows +51
  • Whites +12
  • Blacks 0
  • Clarity -11
  • Vibrance +36
  • Saturation -5

Now, having an established import preset doesn’t mean you won’t make adjustments. Rather, it sets you at a “ground zero”—a springboard if you will— from which you’ll make the rest of your adjustments. Joy’s presets were made for her own photography style and her particular lighting style. Yours will probably be different.

Skin Tone

Joy’s secret to achieving the perfect skin tone for her photography? Once she imports according to her preset, she simply decrease the saturation in the reds and oranges and increases the luminance. Now, of course, Joy is a professional photographer who shoots locally and this workflow is based largely on her clientele in the region. This method may very well not work on naturally darker skin or in places where there’s not enough color.

Working with skin tone in Lightroom

You’ll simply have to play around and discover what works for you, your clients, and your style.

Speaking of style, do you use any special presets or actions that streamline your workflow and give your portraits great skin tone? Let us know!

For further help with Lightroom: 1-Click Photo Editing Presets

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