Why does the camera add 10 pounds?

Models, television actors and movie actors tend to be very concerned about their weight. One reason for their obsession with their weight: they believe that the camera makes them look heavier than they are. They try to compensate for it by slimming down more than they would need for health alone. People who don’t turn out so well in their pictures tend to blame the camera, too — it adds 10 pounds, they say, to excuse their appearance. 

As photographers, we are privy to specific experience and understanding that the average person is not. Our working relationship with camera and lens physics nuances and how that plays into subject representation is, actually, uncommon. And when it comes to shooting people, we certainly have a better foundation on which to stand to make them look their best, especially a portrait, fashion, and beauty photographers, and one of the things we have to contend with is this persistent notion that the camera adds 10 pounds. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

It’s such a common thought that it was even featured on Friends! But does the camera add 10 pounds and make you look bigger than you do in real life?

The simple answer is that it can make you look heavier and distort your features, which is no good for anyone’s confidence. How often have you left to go out to work or dinner, taking one last look in the mirror and being as happy as you can be only to see a photo taken later that day which makes you look awful?

Research Done in Scotland Proves It

Sponsored by the Independent Television Commission, a study done at the University of Liverpool (and later published in New Scientist) has investigated how regular televisions and 3-D televisions affect perceptions of subjects’ weight. Hundreds of test subjects comparing the images of people shown in 2-D and 3-D nearly always perceived people as heavier in regular, 2-D images.  

In the process of turning three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional images, conventional photography spreads both people and things out, making them appear fatter or heavier than they are. In general, the camera tends to enhance the waist-to-hip ratio of a subject and the neck area. Women end up with a somewhat masculine jawline. The effect shows up clearly with new movie and television actors. Often, they start slightly heavy-looking and quickly turn slim over the first year. Once these actors see themselves on screen, they realise what the camera does and compensate for its fattening effect.

Now, of course, this was meant for a broad audience, so photographers acquainted with the ‘phenomena’ needn’t be cynical even though they address something all of us already understand, and that’s the effective focal length has on the appearance of a subject, or more specifically, the relative appearance between parts of an issue. Check out our range of wedding photography for your wedding day.

We understand wider lenses will distort depending on orientation and distance in a way that’s typically less flattering (though if you’ve shot enough, you know when you pull that wider focal length out to elongate a face or figure) and that longer focal lengths (up to a point) ‘compress’ features in a generally more appealing way.

But others suggest that a significant contributor to the theory is that we are using stereoscopic vision when we see with our eyes, whereas, with a camera, it’s monoscopic. That stereoscopic renders depth better, given a better sense of relative depth perception. A better, more ‘all-round’ view than the flatter look of a monoscopic lens can create the perception of more prominent features. Does that mean it’s 10lbs worth? That’s probably a matter of opinion and seems arbitrary, but there does seem to be some bit of truth to it.

How the Effect Works

Why does the camera add 10 pounds?

The optical illusion of the camera doesn’t always make subjects look heavier. A lot depends on where exactly the issue stands in the camera’s field of view. Wide-angle lenses make a person sending at the very centre appear taller and broader in the hip. Those who stand on the periphery end up looking shorter and wider.

The distance that a subject being photographed is placed at can make a difference, too. A resident who is farther than 5 feet away from the camera can appear heavier. This effect can be observed in any mirror. To try it out, you need to stand 6 inches from a mirror, watch exactly how you look and then gradually pull back until you are 3 feet away. You’ll notice the optical illusion of added weight kick in.

The kind of lighting used can add to the weight-enhancing illusion, too. Flash photography and intelligent stage lighting tend to flatten and spread images out. Soft lighting has the opposite effect. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.

Focal Length Is the Key Factor in the Camera Adding Weight.

Portraits taken with a fisheye lens distort the features enlarging the parts closest to the camera.[/caption]

The main culprit in adding weight is what’s called the focal length of the lens itself. Of course, lighting, etc., plays its part, but it’s the focal length that will add the weight and distort your features.

The focal length is measured in millimetres (mm). Don’t worry too much about the geeky technical side, but it’s the numbers that are important. The commonly agreed ideal focal length so that we all look as we see with our eyes is between 85mm & 135mm. Although this is not the focal length of our eyes, it gives a similar result to how we are used to seeing the world (cameras and watches work with focal length differently).

Now, if you have ever seen a portrait taken with a fisheye lens (like the one above) which is usually between 8 and 15mm, you will see a pronounced distortion in the features. Everything close to the lens looks more extensive, and the other features taper away. Although this is an extreme case, it hopefully gives you an idea of the difference between, say, 15mm and 85mm can have on a portrait.

They say focal length when they mean subject distance, but the point is still quite valid as you’ll often change your focal length as you change space to account for the field of view. The camera moves along with the changing focal length to keep a similarly sized frame on the subject. It’s not the focal length that’s changing anything but the subject’s position relative to the camera. Perspective is a function of distance.

So, this affects how your subject is presented to the camera. But this is why it’s also a “maybe”. It doesn’t have to add 10lbs; it all depends on how good the photographer is in their choices. Photography is all an illusion. And that illusion can be manipulated.

By far, the most significant factor that determines how large one may appear on the camera vs how they’re used to seeing themselves is light. This is why on-camera flash is usually such a bad idea. It just blasts light evenly straight at your subject and removes all sense of depth. All form and volume are released, except for that 2D flat plane in the resulting image.

Getting the light off the camera to introduce highlights and shadows provides form and depth. Again, it’s an illusion, but it’s an illusion that counteracts the physics of going from binocular vision to a single lens.

She was posing, and shooting position plays a big part in it, too. Looking up or down at a subject, both present the issue in different ways. Having your subject posed directly facing the camera, vs slightly turned away. She was seated vs standing. All of these will affect. Even subtle, little things, like holding an arm too close to the body, will smush it out and make it appear wider to the camera. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

We’re Used to Seeing Things With Binocular Vision.

One of the significant aspects of the camera itself may determine how your site appears on the sensor.

One is that we’re used to seeing things with binocular vision. That means we have two eyes. Our brains compensate for this double vision, allowing us to focus on our subjects. They perceive depth, and that they’re slightly offset from each other means, we can see around the edges of objects.

Cameras are typically monocular. They have a single lens through which they capture their image. So, while a pair of human eyes can see things on the sides of objects, cameras often cannot. This can give the impression that something is more comprehensive than it is.

Taking Selfies? What Focal Length Is Your Mobile Phone?

It’s worth considering what focal length the camera in your smartphone has in a world of selfies. Taking any portrait at that distance can be tricky, but with many mobile phone lenses being around 26mm, it’s no wonder that so many of us hate ourselves when taking a selfie!

We have listed the most popular makes and models below with their focal lengths to give you an idea if you want the best selfie camera!

Once you get to 85MM, there is a minimal difference once you go higher. Unfortunately, shooting at 200mm will not remove an additional 10 pounds!! The variance is more to do with how the background looks. For instance, on our 70-200mm lenses, you get a more excellent bokeh (blurry background) than you do at 85MM.

So What Can You Do?

Well, it comes down to knowing your subject really and having a particular vision and experience.

There is no substitute for experience here because I could tell you that 105mm is pretty ideal for headshots as that’s my experience from the typical distance I like to shoot. Still, you’ve got to know when to identify that as a crock for the situation.

There’s no blanket answer, and there are many things you can do to look slimmer in a photo, from lighting, clothing, make-up, and posing is a huge one. 

To Look Skinny in Your Pictures, Try These Tips

Why does the camera add 10 pounds?

Every time we open Instagram, we see a perfectly positioned model or influencer showing off their outfit. Without fail, we assume the seemingly perfect photo was effortless to capture. We always take it for granted that the person in the picture is naturally photogenic. But guess what: That couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone who frequently has their photo taken knows what works for them, mostly from trial and error.

While the Barbie feet pose is a favourite among celebs and models everywhere. It’s no big secret how to produce a fantastic outfit photo; it just comes down to knowing your angles.

Everyone has a different angle that works best for them, but try the following tips, and you’ll realise that the perfect outfit photo is just a matter of strategy. From paying attention to camera angles to strategically positioning your body, we’re sharing our top tricks to never worrying about looking more photogenic again. If you’re ready to up your Instagram game, look no further.

These are the tricks that set expert photographers apart from less-experienced ones. It can take a good bit of practice to learn to use all the tricks for skinny pictures. The colour of the subject’s clothing, hairstyle, and even how they position their arms can make one look heavier or slimmer. It takes time and dedication to learn to make the camera tell the truth.

We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.

The optical illusions that cameras bring with them can be worked around. Professional fashion photographers often even find ways to use them in their favour. These ideas below should help:

Take Pictures from Above

Placing your camera a foot above the subject is an excellent way to compensate for the camera’s widening effect.

The Head Should Be Placed, Forward 

The angle of the subject’s head can make a difference to his or her perceived weight. When the head is pushed forward, it makes the jawline look thinner and more delicate.

Not Having the Subject Face the Camera Directly 

A position where the subject sits angled away from the camera and twists around to face it is far better than one that has them facing the camera full-on. It can take away the illusion of heaviness.

Avoid a Low Angle

Lower angles, while sometimes an excellent option, are typically harder to execute well. Position your camera slightly above your eye line. Generally speaking, the higher the camera angle, the better the photo.

Put Your Hand on Your Hip

If your arm is slightly away from the rest of your body, it adds interest to the pose.

Sit up or Stand up Straight

Paying attention to your posture when taking pictures can make a world of difference. Hunched shoulders and slumped spines will not elongate your figure. Instead, push your shoulders back and stick your back end out slightly. It might seem silly to dramatise good posture, but we promise it will come across well on camera.

Avoid Bulky Clothing

You should wear whatever you like and show off your unique style in photos, but bulky clothing tends to distract from the best part of the image: you! Lightweight, thin fabrics, like silk, are great options for photos.  

Slightly Twist Your Body to the Side

Again, posing uniquely adds interest to the photo. Entirely to the side or even at an angle, both work.

Wear Dark Clothing

You don’t have to wear bright colours to make your photo stand out—case in point: Chrissy Rutherford’s dark-wash denim jumpsuit and black booties.

Add a Filter

Going for a darker Instagram filter, like X-Pro II or Mayfair, and adjusting the exposure and light filters can make for a more photogenic image.

Keep Your Chin up and Out

This trick will elongate your neck and help to avoid any unflattering chin angles. 

Pull Your Shoulders Back

Not only will this accentuate your collarbone, but it will also make you look more polished and put-together (if that’s what you’re going for).

Don’t Tightly Press Your Arms to Your Body.

Keep your arms slightly away from your body for a better shot. Either put your hand on your hip, brush your hand through your hair, or try keeping your elbow slightly out.

Experiment With Selfies to Find Your Best Angle

No shame here—it’s all about finding what looks best for you. A little trial and error will help you find your best angle in photos, so you know exactly how to stand to create the best image. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Photogenic Wardrobe Essentials

  • You really can’t go wrong with a dress.
  • Square necklines are a frame for your collarbones.
  • Try any silhouette that’s belted to highlight your figure.
  • Vertical stripes are pretty much guaranteed to garner likes.
  • Always invest in black jeans.
  • There’s a reason wrap dresses have been a classic for decades now—they look so darn good on everyone.
  • A cropped jacket is so versatile
  • Throw on jeans and sandals in the warmer months and layer with a blazer in the colder seasons.