Portrait Project Seeks to Document Every Human Skin Tone

Any sort of portrait photographer is intimately familiar with the huge variety of skin tones represented by us homo sapiens, but until now nobody had thought to document them all. That’s the mammoth task that Brazilian artist and photographer Angelica Dass has taken upon herself with her portrait project Humanae.

The project consists of a series of portraits (like the ones seen above) which are taken, analyzed, and arranged using the PANTONE color guide. By analyzing 11×11 pixel pieces of her sujects’ faces, she is able to find their exact alphanumeric Pantone color, label the photo, and fill the background that color.

What results is a chromatic inventory of, hopefully and eventually, every skin tone in existence — a scientific way to look at and document “colors beyond our codes.” To find out more about the project and see the massive selection of skin tones she has documented so far, be sure to check out the Humanae webpage.

Humanae (via Flavorwire)

Image credits: Photography by Angelica Dass

  • Merv

    Makes a mockery of calling people Black or White.
    Everybody seems to be Pink, Orange, or Brown.

  • 9inchnail

    Someone should put them in ascending order from light to dark and make a table with exposure comensation values. But I guess, if you’re gonna carry that with you, you can just as well carry a grey card.

  • russianbox

    Pentone©, or as I like to call it. The capitalisation of colour

  • Deborah Gibson

    This is so true. It is so difficult to photograph a group of people of color with a range of skin tones and flash.

  • harumph

    It’s an interesting project. But the first thing that caught my eye was that this sampling makes the project look like “50 Shades of White People and 2 Shades of Black People…Plus 1 Asian.”

  • branden rio

    I think this is just an excuse to photograph a lot of naked people

  • Chris

    Wow only two ‘black’ people. Perhaps this project should be done by someone who is not so colour blind.

  • Gerrald

    That’s just weird, get a life.

  • Dan

    I question that there is limited standardization in this measuring technique. Is the light situation always correct (distance of the flash, angle of the flash towards the people, height of the flash, position of the persons’ faces towards the camera, etc., flash power)? Is always the same camera used and with the same settings (shutter speeds, etc)? Is the white balance correct and are they using grey card? Which part of the subjects’ face is measured? (People should be shot with lots of light to reduce shadows that can change the color tone) At what time of the year are the people being shot? (Being exposed to the sun as in summer time will falsify the real skin tone)

  • Mansgame

    He should include Charlie Murphy in the pictures. Rick James would be proud.

  • Kelvin

    I know photographer who rather than photographing and assigning a Pantone color, has measured 5000 subjects skin color with a spectrophotometer and then obtain a LAB color value, turns out that we are all red.

  • stanimir stoyanov

    What do you mean we are all red?

  • Kelvin

    All the skin sampled had a hue value of between 0 and 20 degrees ie. red

  • Ben

    Not sure “Humanae” fits, as the author lives in Spain, with apparently a limited variety of ethnic origins (considering one in five people in the world is Chinese and one in six is Indian)
    Plus the face can be a biased indicator of the average body skin tone, see the sunburnt guy in the bottom right corner

  • Joe

    Stop being so racist please!

  • harumph

    How in the world is it racist to notice that there are only two black people?

  • Max Hodges

    seems a bit arbitrary. Pick a different 11×11 pixel zone and get a very different result.

  • Ursa

    haha for real, my thought exactly