How do you set your camera in settings to TAKE photos that come out with the skin looking more tanned and bronzed than in real-life? Instead of changing the photo afterwards. Preferably Canon, but any other camera is fine.

Something like this:

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    \$\begingroup\$ How do you know that's not her skin color "in real life"? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you to everyone for their help :) The reason I ask is because when I see the behind the scenes photos and Snap Chat videos from this photographer's shoots the girls are no where near as tanned as they are in the finished product photo. \$\endgroup\$
    – caseylace
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 17:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ Then that proves it's not being done in-camera. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 17:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @caseylace Can you see how the photographer did it, in the 'behind the scenes' photos ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Janardan S
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 8:55

4 Answers 4


You don't.

You might be tempted to change the overall color cast by lying to the camera about the ambient white balance, but that will be very tricky to get right and to reliably repeat.

The answer is to do this in post-processing. The job of the camera is to capture as much information about the scene as possible. If that is done well, then you have a lot of latitude about how to present some subset of that information in your final picture. That could include masking and performing operations on only parts of the image, for example. That is impossible to explain to a camera how to do, especially before the picture is taken.

Cameras are not for retouching or as a substitute for post-processing. Some consumer-oriented cameras do have limited processing capabilities. However, these are for appealing to the kind of people that buy a point and shoot in the first place. These features are for the unsophisticated consumer that actually believes "just press this magic button to make great pictures". These features are also a very poor subset of what is available in any decent post-processing app.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That, or "pre-processing" — casting, makeup, and lighting.... \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 14:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mattdm: Good point. The example picture may well include some makeup, artificial tanning, and the like. Not sure if that's within the realm of photography here though. That picture is also overall dark, accentuating the darkness of the model's skin. However, that's a post-processing issue. The same raw file could produce a very different result. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm Specifically, lighting the model with plenty of UV so that they tan! *baddum-tsh* \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidRicherby Or choosing a model with naturally brown skin in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 19:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or slather suntan lotion all over her and shoot during the golden hour while using gold reflectors for fill. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 22:49

Let us try to "Correct" the image to reverse engineer it:

enter image description here

The first visible thing is that the image is strongly underexposed. It has a low saturation on the colors.

Viewing human skin tones on a chromatic circle turns to be in one zone in the hue view. I do not see a real deviation on the hue of the skin. So my first attempt would not be tweaking the white balance.

But there is a bit of green on the shadows. This green indicates to me that the effect is a post process. modifying the curves.

I would be tempted to play with underexposed images, but with the drawback of losing detail on the shadows. If you later want to see a "normal" image you will have those details lost.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you expand your thinking a little bit so that it’s more clear to the OP what you’re recommending? \$\endgroup\$
    – bdesham
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The original image is low key, but is not "strongly underexposed". Note in the histogram that values are to the left, but not smashed against the 0 wall — in fact. I think your extremely cranked-up version is very unlikely to represent the natural skin tone of the model. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 14:17

It depends on your camera, and how much work you want to invest on it.

For example, if you use a Canon EOS DSLR, there's a feature called Picture Styles, that are actually RAW development presets that your camera use to develop your shots.

I guess that other makers, say Nikon, Sony or Pentax, will have something similar, but since I use Canon DSLRs, I can't say anything about them. Anyways, you can find some information here.

In Canon walled garden

You're not limited to default preset, since Canon provides a software called Picture Style Editor that comes with your camera that lets you create a developing preset that you can load on your camera, and select from the Picture Style menu.

Picture Style Editor

In Picture Style Editor you can set contrast curves, sharpness, and selectively tune hue, saturation and lightness for each color. For deatils see:


Once you create a picture style, you load it on your camera, activate it from camera menus, and your custom settings will be used by the camera to create JPEG shots.

The same preset will also be saved inside RAW files, and will be used to create the RAW preview image, but only Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) application will be able to find it and apply it when you develop an image.

Digital Photo Professional

When you use Digital Photo Professional to develop a RAW file, the first thing it does is to apply your chosen picture style to the image, so it will be your starting point for any following work.

Outside of Canon walled garden

If you shoot RAW, and prefer to use something different than Canon software, you'll see that any other software like Lightroom or Photoshop or Corel AfterShot Pro usually will ignore camera defined picture style, and you'll need to apply your edits inside of them (I think they can't read that data from the RAW file).

enter image description here

As you can see in the screenshot, Lightroom uses its own "camera profile", that's different from your default camera manufacturer's profiles, and doesn't even list your custom picture styles.

So, for example, you may need to create a Lightroom development preset to apply your desired look to your RAW shots. This is what most of the people do, and it's why they don't care at all about picture styles.

My personal opinions and suggestions

Picture styles can be useful, mostly if you work with very limited time, and you need to quickly provide JPEG images for newspapers as a photo journalist, or as photographic evidence.

You take the time to create a picture style that's good for your needs, you do it once, you select it in your camera, shoot in JPEG, send photos to your boss, and that's it.

For any other professional use, you usually shoot in RAW, and need to use a computer to cull, add metadata, organize and edit your shots to fine tune at least composition, colors and exposure.

Professional software like Lightroom or Corel AfterShot Pro or Capture One Pro let you create several development presets that you can apply to your images as you import them, and tune as you need, in a non-destructive way, looking on a big screen that's usually better than your small camera back screen. They give you a lot more control and more creative options.

So I think it's better shoot RAW and to choose a "neutral" picture style inside your camera (Canon's "Standard" one is fine), and use it only to check in camera for sharpness, composition and exposure. And create a preset inside your photo editing software so you can get get your custom look and tune it as necessary, from shoot to shoot.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Canon's "Standard" Picture Style is far from neutral. It boosts both contrast and saturation considerably compared to the PS that is actually named "Neutral." \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's true, and that's why I put the word neutral in quotes! ;-) I think that "faithful" and "neutral" could be a lot better choices for more experienced photographers, but may seem too dull and flat for "normal" users. Imho "Standard" gives you an average image that's "good enough" for most users and use cases. And anyways, since you can develop your RAWs to get your custom look, who cares? \$\endgroup\$
    – gerlos
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 22:54

The simplest method is changing color temperature. Different cameras have different ways to change color balance, so consult your camera manual or just find the right knob. If you can't do this in camera, shoot raw, these things are better done in post processing – you have more time and changes you make can be tweaked or completely undone.


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