Tanning || How I Really Feel About It


I always get asked about whether I suggest my clients tan or not. The short answer is no, you probably shouldn’t tan right before your shoot. Whether it be spray or sun, for most people your skin becomes an unnatural (spray tan) or uneven (suntan) color. That coloration becomes super apparent in professional photography. You also don’t want tan lines! Although I do edit skin tones, if you have a white booty and tan legs, you will still be able to tell there is a gradient on your skin. 


Just check out this example of skin smoothing before and after with strong tan lines:

Before and after image of tan line edit.

Before | After


I do not do any body modification, and that includes changing your skin tone. So despite my skills with blending her tan lines, you could totally tell where she was sun kissed and where her natural skin tone was. 


Wanna avoid this? Here are my suggestions on tanning:

If you really want to tan, hey girl, that’s your prerogative.
However, I WILL NEVER recommend the use of a spray tan to fill in your tan lines. In professional photography, my camera catches every beautiful detail on your body. 9.5 times out of 10 your spray tan will not perfectly match the tone of your natural tan, and it will become even more obvious in the photos. If you want to attempt to even out skin tones, I suggest using a tanning bed about 4 weeks before your session date.


If you jump in that tanning bed, use a standing booth!
Go in completely naked to avoid tan lines or weird patches (those weird butt creases – you know what I’m talking about). I am going to be capturing every gorgeous curve and angle, so even if you don’t think we will see it (like that part under your butt – trust me, we will), do your best to make sure it is as even as possible. 


Use sunscreen designed for indoor tanning.
I know, right? It sounds counterintuitive to use sunscreen when you intend to tan, but hear me out. Tanning is a biological process that requires a specific sequence of reactions in your skin, and that needs the right nutrients available to get the best results. Indoor tanning sunscreen is VERY DIFFERENT from outdoor sunscreen.

  • Outdoor sunscreen only blocks natural IV rays, not the artificial ones emitted by tanning bed bulbs, which are sometimes stronger than the sun.
  • Outdoor sunscreen is designed for prolonged exposure to the sun, while the indoor variant is designed with the time limit in mind.
  • Indoor tanning sunscreens that have vitamins, natural oils, minerals, anti-oxidants, natural botanical extracts, and aloe vera to give your skin the extra moisture needed to achieve a deeper tan that will last longer than going in dry.
  • Plus, moisturized skin is glowing skin!

Check out this webpage for more information on sunscreen types.


Just come natural.

Pale skin is in. No seriously! I love a porcelain goddess. You don’t look “sickly” or pale. In fact, natural skin tones tend to be the most even. So if your legs are the color of your butt that’s never seen the sun, that’s okay with me! Look at how beautiful she is in her milky skin!!!

At the end of the day, you should do what makes you feel good, and only use what I have to say as education. Just come to your shoot freshly showered, moisturized, bare faced, and hair undone so that our amazing hair and makeup artist can give you the luxury makeover you deserve!


Want more tips about how to prep for your session with Grá Intimate Portraiture? Read up on these 5 Things To Do Before Your Boudoir Session!

Interested in learning more about my Akron boudoir sessions and the packages I offer? Check out my boudoir page here. Looking for something unique that isn’t listed on my site? Don’t be afraid to ask! I’d be happy to set up a customized session just for you.

Here’s how you can get in touch with me:

Love Gwaltney
Grá Intimate Portraiture
Your Akron Boudoir Photographer
Phone:  (234) 208.5744
[email protected]