Why Does a Camera Add 10 Pounds to Your Image?

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It's a common belief among many who take and view photographs that "the camera adds 10 pounds," making anyone in a photograph look heavier than they actually are. This is mainly caused by an optical illusion, along with personal perception.

Effects

  • Because a photo is a 2-D image of a 3-D object, the picture often flattens the image on the shot, reducing depth illusion while not changing the width, making some objects look like they have more bulk.

Lighting

  • Lighting is considered the number one cause of the extra 10 pounds. If light is straight on the subject being focused, the camera greatly removes the depth in the image. Color contrast can also cause this by affecting shadows, like someone wearing white against a red backdrop.

Angles

  • The angle of the camera can have a big impact in whether the shot "flattens" the image. Some tricks that can reduce this effect include having the subject turn to a certain angle and shooting the person from the waist up.

Potential

  • The effects of flattening images and "adding more pounds" is very common among amateur photographers who don't know the secrets of lighting and camera angles. It is also common among photojournalists who don't have the luxury of adjusting such issues.

Misconceptions

  • This can always be a simple matter of personal opinion. Many people who are self-conscious about their appearance will automatically assume a picture will not turn out good and can view any image as being unflattering.

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