Navigating photography’s inherited bias against dark skin.
A really great read. I remember being younger at summer camps with INDIAN friends who were much lighter than me and dreading how I would look in the group picture. I would always be all shiny forehead and shadows where my eyes are. It wasn’t pretty. It was really, really not pretty, or even human. Nor was it accurate. But for me it was the absolute confirmation that I am in fact ugly. (don’t worry, that type of thinking has decreased by about 500%) There would also be a good amount of teasing and harsh words from those indian friends, much of which was just not even remotely veiled anti-black racism.
Anyway, this is a fascinating, validating read.
It turns out, film stock’s failures to capture dark skin aren’t a technical issue, they’re a choice. Lorna Roth, a scholar in media and communication studies, wrote that film emulsions — the coating on the film base that reacts with chemicals and light to produce an image — “could have been designed initially with more sensitivity to the continuum of yellow, brown and reddish skin tones but the design process would have to be motivated by a recognition of the need for extended range.” Back then there was little motivation to acknowledge, let alone cater to a market beyond white consumers.”
i fuckin knew it! if i can see you in rl, my camera should be able to see you or else it is flawed.