- Dan Vojtech
It’s a comforting thought: The camera adds 10 pounds. After all, it means that the “you” that you see in photographs is not actually your best self. In real life, you’re better: You’re more attractive and slimmer.
And it turns out that this age-old line isn’t just a tale that we spin to make ourselves feel better about bad group photos. The camera really does add 10 pounds. Or some cameras do at least.
According to Gizmodo, the focal length of a camera can flatten out your features, which can make you look a little bit bigger. Then, of course, there’s barrel distortion, which is when a camera lens can cause straight lines to appear curved. This has the effect of plumping you up, making you look, well, kind of fatter.
But it’s not just a one-way street. These same effects can actually cause other lenses to make you appear thinner!
To highlight the incredible way that focal length can affect the shape of the face, photographer Dan Vojtech stitched together a series of nine portraits that he took at 20 mm, 24 mm, 28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 70 mm, 105 mm, 150 mm, and 200 mm.
Vojtech kept the camera close with the wide-angle lens and farther away with the telephoto lens, so that the face was framed the same in every shot. Because of this, the GIF above shows what’s known as the “Hitchcock zoom.”
Wide-angle lenses, as their name implies, have a super-wide field of view, which can create something called a fish-eye effect – your face will appear bloated in the middle and stretched on the outside. The wide field of view can also cause objects closer to the camera to appear larger, while making objects further away seem smaller.
Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, will make you appear a little bit thinner. You’ll be somewhat flattened, with the width of your foremost features, such as your nose, being slightly compressed.
So what’s the best way to avoid the extra pounds packed on (or zapped away) by your deceitful camera?
According to PetaPixel, 85 mm to 135 mm lenses are usually recommended for portraits. These lenses produce less distortion, so that you can avoid looking thinner or fatter in photographs.
After all, the “real you” is the “best you.” Or something like that.