The Haute Girl Explains Four Ways to Not Look Overweight in Photographs

“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.

Barrel Distortion
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.


Camera Angles
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.


Your Pose
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.


Your Clothes
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!

You can read Alea's full article at The Haute Girl and see her photography at Alea Lovely.
All images were used with her permission.

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Chris Blair's picture

Great tips, thanks!

Hank's picture

Just shoot them with a 800mm

Chase Anthony's picture

How to not look overweight? Wait I thought the new thing was for women to embrace and appreciate their curves

Jr Miller's picture

You can always just put down the fork and exercise once in awhile....

Cock_Lesnar's picture

no its not. It is useful for plus sizes like the girl in the picture. It is not useful when they are obese or fat as hell.

Martina Selepova's picture

why its not useful even if they would be ( according to you ) fat as hell ? does the concept change with them ? or they dont have right to be photographed and have memories just because people like you think that "fat as hell" people dont have right to look better in their photos ????

Spy Black's picture

Putting aside the bluntness, there is a point being made. One of the pitfalls of dealing with the general public like this is that somehow they will expect you to make them look thinner. Many a time I've heard wedding photographers say their clients don't like their wedding pictures because "he made them look fat". I kid you not. All of a sudden the photographer is held liable that the bride (or even groom) look fat.

This is why I have the utmost respect for wedding photographers. Theirs is a job where they walk in a landmine field of drunks and psychopaths. I think photographing in a war zone offers a better experience.

captaindogcock's picture

"How to Not Look Overweight in Photographs"

Simple, don't be overweight.

David Vaughn's picture

Liquify all the things! *sarcasm don't set me on fire*

MorZar's picture

Amazing that in no point of this article is mentionned that wearing black tends to make people look larger, and white does the very opposite. (It's confirmed by the photos in this article)

Ah but yes, this is a photography blog, not a fashion blog...

Scott's picture

Can you share a link? I can't find anything saying that. All I come up with is the opposite.

J H's picture

Not much to say here other than women who are plus sized often wear clothes that make appear even bigger than they are, i'm a typical guy i know nothing of women's fashion but I see this mistake a lot. Posture is a great place to start. The attitude or emotions of the photographed subject are equally important too, if they are uncomfortable the photo will not be good. Person posing for me last year was FROWNING on camera, it was a very uncomfortable time for a new photographer like myself. The porch shot on the right is my fav, I think it presents everything just right.

Guest's picture

Fstoppers FB posts are outsourced to Bangladesh nowadays?

...had to do it :)


Fstoppers FB posts are outsourced to Bangladesh nowadays?
... had to be done :)

Spy Black's picture

Use a 24-85mm Nikkor on the long end. Never seen a lens exhibit so much pincushion distortion in my life. You don't even have to go all the way out to 85mm, anything over 55mm will do. The longer you go out, the more distorted however.

Amber Joynt's picture


Hannah's picture

WOW. wasn't aware everyone in the comment section at Fstoppers were a bunch of judgemental shallow a$$holes. ~*~*the more you know*~*~