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The Racial Bias Built Into Photography


Kodak’s Multiracial Shirley Card, North America. 1995. Photo courtesy of Lorna Roth, Concordia University.


In a piece for the New York Times , art scholar Sarah Lewis discusses the racial bias of color-film technology. For years, photography has set light skin as the norm, while neglecting to capture the hues of darker skin tones. According to Lewis, the technology's inability to capture darker skin has wide-reaching implications which cannot be overlooked.

"Photography is not just a system of calibrating light, but a technology of subjective decisions. Light skin became the chemical baseline for film technology, fulfilling the needs of its target dominant market."