Jean Laninga Portraits | A Guide to Tanning for a Photoshoot I Guest Blog by Grace Combs

A Guide to Tanning for a Photoshoot I Guest Blog by Grace Combs

March 14, 2018  •  Leave a Comment




©2016 Jean Laninga Photography ,March 11, 2017, IMG_0386-Edit-Edit-Edit-2©2016 Jean Laninga Photography ,March 11, 2017, IMG_0386-Edit-Edit-Edit-2


Grace is a wedding  photographer, and has graciously given me her permission so share this well thought out and worded information on tanning for a photoshoot. Thank you Grace for your generosity! 

Let’s face it. We like to look tan but no one wants to look orange in their pictures, especially if they are important pictures that will hang around for a lifetime. If you live in a state that requires you to partake in winter, you have probably thought about tanning for a photo shoot once or twice. So how much tanning is too much tanning for photos. Here is a guide to tanning that will hopefully save you from a dreaded agent orange experience.

1. Cameras saturate colors. Colors can look one way to your eye and another to a camera. Cameras absorb light. That’s how the image is created. All color gives off a certain variant of light. That’s how colors are seen. Vibrant colors like orange and red look more vibrant to a camera than they do to your eye, especially in bright sun light. So if your skin is a little bit orange to your eye, its gonna be a lotta bit orange to the camera.

My advice: Less is more. Only go two or three shades darker than you are without tanning. That will ensure that you won’t look red or orange but will have a natural, healthy glow.

2. Cameras can pick up tan lines that can’t allows be seen to the eye. I have retouched many images from women whose tan lines suddenly appeared in images that weren’t there when they looked in the mirror. Areas that don’t get sun can just be naturally lighter and can show up.

My advice: tan in a swim suit that is similar to the outfit you will wear for your pictures. Plan on tanning in this swim suit months prior to your shoot and only wear this shoot. One day in a criss crossy top can ruin your well laid plans. Tanning in a tanning bed (where you are most likely naked) will resolve your tan line issue but tanning to much in a tanning bed can give you that orangey glow that you don’t want. So take it easy and take it slow. Tanning once  a week for a few months prior to your shoot will ensure your skin won’t over absorb and turn orange.

3. Be proud of your skin tone and do things that will compliment it, not cover it up. If you are pale, you are pale. Its probably time that you came to terms with that. But pale isn’t ugly. In fact, pale is quite gorgeous! You can have that milky complexion that is desired amongst models and actresses. You don’t want to look sickly or ghostly so I understand wanting to get some color. But take it easy. Like I said above, less is more. A warm glow is all you need. Not some barbie beach bum tan.

My advice: spend time outside but wear sun block. No one like s burn and red can be as bad as orange in pictures. If you still feel like you are too pale for your shoot, head to Sephora and get a good bronzer. It will brighten up your face without making you look like you are trying to be something you’re not.

4. Never spray tan. I don’t care what they say. Spray tan doesn’t look normal. Especially on camera. So just say no. It maybe the most effective way to get dark without sun damage but I would rather you be pale then show up looking like an oompaloompa’s cousin. Again, be proud of the skin you were given. Accentuate it, don’t cover it up to fit a trend.

My advice: Say no. Walk away. Never look back.

5. If your shoot is a group (such as a bridal party), make sure your group has this same game plan. Natural skin tones are easy to balance but if you have natural skin tones mixed with an agent orange, it becomes quite challenging to make it look normal. You want your group to look cohesive so make sure they don’t go over board on the tanning boat.

My advice: Be encouraging of peoples natural skin tones. Embrace them for the beauty that they were created with and do things that will encourage them to enhance their beauty. No one needs a bridezilla so don’t mandate. If you have someone in your group who went a little over board, its not the end of the world. If you hired a good photographer, they should be able pose you in a way that doesn’t bring attention to tan lines, burns or orangey skin. They should also be able to edit the pictures that downplays any faux pas.


Following these simple rules will help your photographer love you even more and it will make their job easier. A happy photographer = gorgeous pictures.


Grace has 10 years experience photographing weddings. She is fun and quirky and likes to make your wedding day as stress free as possible.


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