You might be glad to find out that cameras really do add 10 pounds: According to Gizmodo, the focal length of a camera (which is the distance between the center of a lens and its focus) can flatten out your features, making you look a little bit larger. Cameras also sometimes create an effect called barrel distortion, which makes straight lines appear curved and may cause your face (and body) to look more plump than usual.
But is this also true of your iPhone camera? It would seem logical to think so, although when I asked several professional photographers who specialize in taking photos with their iPhones (as well as a popular Instagrammer) whether they’ve noticed this effect, they all told me they had not.
“I’m not sure I could speak to the theme with any authority,” photographer Jim Darling says. “I’ve never considered how the iPhone camera might add 10 pounds,” admits photographer Joanne Garcia. “I’m a skinny bitch, so I can only say that I wish it did,” says Instagrammer Marcus Lundqvist.
Just in case they do, though, I also asked my sources for some tips on making yourself slimmer in pictures. “Take it from slightly above if you’re photographing your face, and take it from slightly below if you’re photographing your entire body,” says Lundqvist. “That will make you look taller, rather than wider.”
Here, too, are tips from Garcia on how to take more flattering photos of other people:
- Get the right lighting: “The best time of the day to shoot outdoor photos is during the golden hour (about an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset),” Garcia explains. “If you’re going to take indoor photos, you want the most indirect, natural light (think of a room with the windows open at noon with the light flooding in).”
- Even out the camera: “Depending on where the subject is and where you’re shooting from, you might create weird positions or double chins and whatnot,” Garcia says. “I usually tell my subject to level out their chin to my camera to avoid any of those weird angles.”
- Create lines with your body: “This is where you can add or lose extra pounds,” Garcia emphasizes. “Simple things, like turning to the side, shifting your weight, putting your hands in your pocket or crossing your arms—these add lines to your shape and can actually make you look slimmer.”
None of which will help your self-esteem when you accidentally turn on that selfie camera.