Google says its phone cameras will take more flattering photos of dark skin

May 20, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Google says its phone cameras will take more flattering photos of dark skin

May 20, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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At this week’s Google I/O, Android VP Sameer Samat announced some major changes in the camera app. Apparently, Google is working to make its Android camera more versatile, more inclusive, and more flattering to darker skin tones and different hair types.

“Pictures are deeply personal and play an important role in shaping how people see you and how you see yourself,” Google writes. “But historical biases in the medium of photography have carried through to some of today’s camera technologies, leading to tools that haven’t seen people of color as they want and ought to be seen.”

Samat said that, as the world’s largest OS, Android has a responsibility to build for everyone. “As part of our ongoing commitment to product inclusion, we’re working to make technology more accessible and equitable,” he added.

So, what can we expect from Google phone cameras in the future? Put simply, it will feature smarter camera software. It will reduce stray lights in a photo and produce more natural brown skin tones. In addition, it should be able to detect different hairstyles more effectively.

Photographers know that lighting someone in a flattering matter depends on several factors, with their skin tone being one of them. Director of photography, Ava Berkofsky, gives some great tips for lighting dark skin actors. But while we as humans can control the lighting, phone camera software has repeatedly failed to properly capture dark skin. And this is where Google’s new software steps in.

Samat says that we can expect these camera improvements this fall in Google Pixel devices. But hopefully, it will inspire other manufacturers to do the same. Google is reportedly committed to sharing the tech with the entire Android ecosystem, so I hope we’ll see the same improvements in other cameras as well.

[via FStoppers, Engadget]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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5 responses to “Google says its phone cameras will take more flattering photos of dark skin”

  1. Mike Shwarts Avatar
    Mike Shwarts

    They aren’t really making the cameras “inclusive.” They were never exclusive. A camera is a dumb tool. It does think. It doesn’t judge. Any “historical bias” was not in the medium. If it exited at all, it was the photographer, printer or most likely the perception of the person viewing the photo. Even in the film days, people strived for accuracy in the medium, but that is also dependent on the user of that medium. Dependent on understanding adjusting exposures, lighting etc. to match the subject. True in digital as it was in film.

    Most of the people who use phones use them as point and shoots. They don’t know about (or if they know, care about) adjusting exposures to suit subjects, or how lighting affects subject appearance. While the AI today can take care of this, and it is good idea to implement it, you can’t blame the medium before the AI ability existed. That is like blaming the hammer and saw for a badly built house.

  2. Venelin Atanasov Avatar
    Venelin Atanasov

    Thank God its not white otherwise it would have been racist

  3. Doug Birling Avatar
    Doug Birling

    And we’re off the racists…

  4. Dajanaye Rollins Avatar
    Dajanaye Rollins

    This actually would be great :).

  5. disqus_ting_ARRRGHH Avatar
    disqus_ting_ARRRGHH

    Looking forward to getting better pictures of my household- we’re all different shades. Taking a good group picture requires lighting and post processing to get everyone looking their best. If Google can do that in-camera, my Pixel will be a more useful tool.