Spray Tans - And why Photographers HATE them.

Summer is coming - the cold days are getting a little less common in Melbourne (but it IS Melbourne, so they won't ever disappear entirely), and the fashions turn to shorter dresses, bare arms, the Melbourne Cup, and of course, everyone starts planning what to get me for my birthday.

Oh wait.. TANNED SKIN, not my birthday (although it's November 1 if you want to surprise me with chocolate!).  

This is the expectation of everyone who has ever gotten a spray tan. But let me assure you, that image on the left has been heavily retouched by the photographer - to the point where the cute little bump on her nose has been edited out.  My trained eye can see the details that have been changed, the marks where the saturation has been lowered, and even the expertly applied makeup can't hide the yelllow lines around her armpits.

Spray tans are ALWAYS popular, and I have nothing against them.  Done well, they look incredible, and will give you an amazing confidence boost.  But PLEASE, if you are going to have a boudoir photo session, a beauty or glamour photo session, or any other kind of photo session that won't be in natural light, DO. NOT.  Get a spray tan.

Why??  But I don't want to look white??  What have you got against tans?? I HAVE to have a tan or I won't feel right! I can hear all of your surprised outbursts and questions.

Oh dear.  See the shimmery orange colour all over this beautiful woman?? That's the result of the bronzing agent in her tan reacting to the flash :<

 

It's not that we don't want you to love your pictures.  In fact, it's just the opposite, of course we want you to look at them and fall deeply and madly in love with each and every one of them. And that may not happen with a spray tan.

A lot of tanning products these days have built in bronzers.  These ingredients are amazing, they give you that beautiful glow, and an added depth to your tan so that it looks more than skin deep.  In NATURAL light, anyway.  

Unfortunately, this isn't the case with studio strobe lighting.  The lights that I, among MANY photographers, use in our studios case that bronzer to reflect badly, in the most non flattering, malibu barbie fake colour that you can imagine.  It is a NIGHTMARE.  Not only for the photographer, but for you when you see your images.

 

Things get even worse when you have to get your spray tan a few days BEFORE your photo session - look at the uneven fading - eeeek!

And then there's editing and retouching those images where you've uncovered parts of your skin that the disposable bikini covered while you were in the booth.  Now, I think you are absolutely beautiful, so I don't like to do much retouching at all, but one of those tan lines showing means that I have to retouch EVERY single square centimetre of your skin to get it to match - that costs me time, and ultimately costs you images, because if it's not done to my satisfaction, I trash that image and you never see it - sad face.

If you are in doubt, I highly recommend you take a wander through Myer or Target, check out the posters in the beauty and perfume section and compare how many ultra pale super models there are, to tanned and bronzed faces/bodies.  That should help to make up your mind.