Let's face it: people of color haven't been historically graced with photography's best treatment. From the lack of commercially available complementary makeup to their exclusion from datasets in computational processing, it's been an uphill battle. Google, recognizing its role to play with over 3 billion Android phones out in the world, is highlighting some of what it's doing to rectify the situation.
The company is consulting with 15 image makers to improve its computational processing which include adjustments to its white balance, exposure, color temperature algorithms to better reflect non-White skin tones. People sporting curly or even frizzly hair are getting a better portrait mode with software tuned to better detect edges.
"I can't help but think of my mom — she still thinks that she's not beautiful because of pictures taken of her when she's younger." says Kira Kelly, a cinematographer advising Google. "How many little girls are out there thinking they're not beautiful because they were the darkest-skinned person in the photo and they weren't represented?"
We may expect to see these changes most prominently on new Pixel phones though that doesn't mean post-processing can't be done on other phones via Google Photos.
Photography plays an important role in shaping how people see you and how you see yourself. That’s why we’ve been working with industry experts like @thekirakelly, @micaiah_carter & @deunivory to build a more accurate and equitable camera for people of color. #ImageEquity pic.twitter.com/Vz6z9Gox6k
— Google (@Google) May 18, 2021
It's one important step in giving people of color the recognition they deserve, though Google might need a larger reckoning of its own before we see substantive societal change.