So, they say that photographs make you look a little heavier or fatter by 5 to 10 lbs or kgs.

It does appear to be true as most of my photographs make my face look "fuller / rounder" than as it is visible normally or in the mirror.

And for probably the same reason some "skinnier" people look nicer or more attractive.

And for someone who works out and is relatively athletic guy, but never takes any selfies, my selfie skills suck.

And plenty of "short & stout" ladies can pull of better looking profiles.

But I figured there's some photography science & art to this.

I did not know the details behind it but recently chanced upon this article.


Key points of Article:

  1. Camera Lens Distortion (Barrel vs Pin Cushion Distortion)
  2. Angles of camera
  3. Your pose

How could I fix these distortions to present a more realistic view of myself?

I'm not trying to look slimmer or all the crazy stuff that people do, just more realistic fix of photographic distortions to reality.

A good detailed "photography science/ technical" response and "How to" would be great.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Don't stand too close to the camera. Clownish if too close. Should be 6 or 7 feet from camera for proper and best perspective. For comparison, if you are three feet from your bathroom mirror, that is six feet overall view. \$\endgroup\$
    – WayneF
    Oct 1, 2017 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


The answer is simple science with a bit of logic tossed in. Things close to the camera image larger than things further back from the camera. When we work the camera in too close, the nose reproduces too large and the ears image too small. This perspective distortion makes people look weird.

Your mental picture of yourself is that view you see in your makeup and dressing mirror. The trick is to reproduce this view (perspective).

The cure is to simplify place the camera further back. This is not easy if you are doing a selfie. Professional portrait photographers use a moderate telephoto. This simple act forces an elongated camera to subject distance. It is this simple act that solves the distortion issue.

As to a round face, the cure is in the lighting. Most portraits look best when the light seems to come from above. In other words, we light in such a way as to simulate afternoon sun. A lamp in this position casts shadows. These are needed because they deliver an illusion of depth. We need this illusion of depth because our images are 2 dimensional. Now that we are paying attention to the shadows, we position the subject in order to achieve a flattering light.

As an example, if the subject has a long nose, we adjust the lamp or the subject to attain a short nose shadow. If the subject’s face is round, we position the subject so that one side of the face is in shadow. This light and shadow enhancement is called “Chiaroscuro”.

So to answer your question: Use a moderate telephoto or simply step back. Also, try to position the subject so one side of the face is shadowed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also add that flash (diffuse flash from e.g. a bound card) can be a simple way to remove the worst effects of wrinkles and so on. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 4, 2017 at 3:27

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