(click on photos to enlarge)
I believe achieving accurate portrait skin color is not always necessary. In fact, if I’ve taken a few hundred pictures of the subject (which I often do during a photo shoot), I’d find having every one of them a “normal” skin color to be quite boring. Changing skin color can often dramatically improve even the most ordinary photograph. It's one of those transformations that can make an image "pop".
Additionally, changing the color can change the mood of the photo. For example, blue can imply coolness, sadness, melancholy, or depression; red can denote rage, danger, heat, love, or passion; yellow can symbolize sickness, glory, splendor, or power.
My color changes are almost always done in postproduction. I primarily use Adobe Camera Raw, the program that is included with Adobe Photoshop. In addition, I may add a few more changes using Nik Software.
For no specific reason. I like the idea of initially viewing the image with its normal colors. This is quickly done in Adobe Camera Raw by clicking on something in the picture that’s white, gray, or black, using the White Balance Tool. Or, if I’ve taken a few pictures of the subject holding a gray or white card, I’ll click on that instead. This should render all the colors as normal or something close to it. It’s at this point that I may start thinking about playing around with the color.
The six pictures above are just a few of those I've colored over the years. I think my impetus for doing so was thinking they needed something more to save them. In other words, they seemed a bit ordinary to me. The color change on some is subtle and more extreme on others. But, for me, they are far more dynamic this way than if no coloring had been added.