“Make me look skinnier” is one of the more frequent requests I get from my clients. Although those kinds of requests are usually accompanied by some laughter as more of a joke than anything, there is some bashful truth there that we, as photographers, need to be aware of. Of course, you have probably heard the old adage “the camera adds ten pounds,” but do you know why and how to combat it? Fashion blogger and photographer Alea Bebenek boldly stepped in front of the camera to help us become aware of what pitfalls to avoid in order to make your subjects look their best.
Alea runs the fashion blog The Haute Girl: a website that emphasizes positive body image to women of all sizes. She explains, “[…] seeing that the average size women was rarely being represented in the fashion world, without being anti-skinny, I wanted to show that any girl, no matter the size, weight, color, nationality, can tap into their inner fashionista and be fabulous.” She admits that what she writes about “is [her] own journey to loving [herself]," but that it is also for "finding a way to encourage other women to love their bodies through fashion.” I found her site to be very empowering and inspiring, so let's take a look at the ways that she suggests for people to look their best in front of a camera.
This is why you may appear heavy in photographs.
It's definitely a concern when using wide-angle lenses and zoom wide-angle lenses, although even a standard 50mm lens could need a bit of correction too. These lenses stretch people like balloons, making them appear chunkier than they really are. Thankfully this is an easy fix in most editing softwares like Lightroom.
Although she admits there isn't a huge difference in this image, Alea said, "I will take looking a little less barrel-like any day!" The before and after is below.
Here's where the photographer has more control. Alea jokingly warns against photographers who are shorter than you as shooting up toward people isn't generally a flattering angle. She suggests changing the camera view to a higher vantage point, looking downward to help slim your subject's features. Here are some more before and after examples.
This is another factor the photographer and subject have control over. From slouchy posture to arched backs. From a boring stance to a dynamic asymmetrical pose. Moving your subject into a flattering position will definitely slim them down. Fstoppers' From Fat To Fit In 5 Minutes gave tips on exactly this. Alea recommends studying celebrities on the red carpet as they are coached to look their best for huge events.
Lastly, she touches on the wardrobe your subjects are wearing. She specifically warns against light, solid colors for people with "wide midsections and generous arms." Alea even had some tips on how to simply move your arms or incorporate accessories, like a purse, to help mask some trouble areas. Again, she focused on posing as a key factor in looking your best.
Are there other tricks and techniques that can be utilized to help people of all sizes look their best?
Share them with us in the comments below!