4 big reasons you look fat in photographs.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

Update: You know how you read buzz feed or something like that and there is this really shocking title, but when you go to read it its nothing about what you thought it was going to be? and it ticks you off? Well this article is not like that, but the title is like that for a reason. It’s what brought you to read this today. I had some unsavory comments about people not liking that I used the word fat, or upset that I would use this word in a negative context. Just to be honest – a man responded to¬†this article saying ” or start working out and don’t be fat ” Ouch. I don’t think anyone wants to be called that, and nor have I been ever called fat as a compliment ( maybe P-H-A-T ūüėČ ) In any event, this article is about looking your most “flattering” in photos. Since I’ve been a photographer for many years – My clients have used this word over and over to describe what they don’t want to look like. Semantics or not, fat or skinny, not one person is trying to looking heavier or more unflattering than they are. I’m not using those words as synonyms either. Bad pictures are the top reason my clients and other people that I know find reasons not to like themselves. So yes, I used the word FAT to describe how unflattering photos come about – mostly because most people describe themselves that way and I knew it was the best way to relate to the topic. I’m also a pretty sarcastic person so my joking is in no way belittling anyone when I make fun of myself. Hope you enjoy the read!

Alea ( IG@alealovely)


So to give you a little background, I have been a professional photographer for 8 years. I’m very familiar with the old adage ” The camera adds ten pounds.” Though I was fluent in cameras, I couldn’t figure out what is going on that makes it give perfectly nice people a reason to think they are fat. Was there a little leprechaun in my camera altering settings to make everyone fatter? Likely not. So being that I was always behind the camera, it made me never want to be in front of one. I just couldn’t stand having to look at one more picture that gave me the reality that I was fatter than I thought I was. ” OMG – I look that THAT?!?! ” was a constant jaw dropping realization, making me feel like Shrek anytime a photo was involved.

So as many of you know, if you have been following this blog, ¬†that this is my own journey to loving myself and finding a way to encourage other women to love their bodies through fashion. Weird how that works. How clothes/fashion can make us feel a certain way about ourselves. It’s constantly around us. When we see something we really like and think ” Well I can’t wear that” because of the image we hold about ourselves. Body image is simply the story we are telling ourselves. Not what other people see when they look at us. But pictures have a BIG part in what story we are telling ourselves. It is the only reflection that we perceive as reality about what we look like. It’s the reason we hide in the back of group photos, or when someone points a camera at us we act like its a gun and hide for cover. It’s the reason almost ALL my brides say ¬†“I’m not photogenic .”

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

The funny part about that is, anyone can look photogenic or un-photogenic depending on who is taking the photo of them.

This experiment with the blog has been an exciting revelation as to why I believed I couldn’t take good pictures ( in front of the camera.)

So #1- Camera Distortion. Often cameras add ten pounds because of the structure of the lens. Each lens has at least a little bit of distortion within in. As anyone knows, the lens on any camera is usually what? ROUND. So an object you see with your own eyes, in a picture is normally Barrel distorted. Yes, in fact it makes your perfect beautiful body look more like a barrel . Here is the technical look at it.


The bottom one is often what we are dealing with. So even the best photographers deal with this issue. Check out this recent shoot of me. I normally never photoshop my body, but instead go into Adobe Lightroom an fix the lens distortion to be more accurate.


Now the difference is extremely slight but I will take looking a little less barrel like any day! We can make an informercial and call it the Lightroom diet?

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

Now most of you likely aren’t having professional photographers taking photos of you all the time, it’s usually your husband or friend, a waiter, sister etc. Someone amateur at best snapping a quick shot without fully looking at what you look like in that photo. And why should they care? They aren’t thinking about how your shirt is hugging one of your rolls or that the way you are holding your face is letting¬†your double chin get all the attention. They also don’t look at photos all day long like a professional would. So don’t leave your appearance up to them. Here is #2 – Angles of camera.

Lets start with whoever is taking your photo.¬†¬†If someone taking the photo is shorter than you RUN! No just kidding. But ask them to hold the camera a little higher. If they are your height or lower or standing downhill from you – have¬†them take¬†the photo from eye level or above.Why do you think 99% of selfles are from above? It’s a very slimming angle for most people. Since most point and shoot cameras (or phones) have a screen you can view from the back just ask them to raise it slightly above eye level and that will help you defeat the 10 lb gain.

This photo my photographer who is shorter than me is under eye level for the first shot and the second shot is slightly above.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

Looks like I lost about 20 lbs in this one. It feels good not to look like Shrek.

Here is another example. Same set up.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

Another example Рcan you tell that this tip is really important? Angles can be your best friend or worst enemy. Note that in this one below in the first photo you catch the chin at an upward angle which is unflattering on anyone as well as my legs that treetop which make thunder thighs an understatement. The next one is from above where my chin looks svelte and legs much better.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

But it isn’t all about having a camera hang above your head. You need to know what angles your body and face look best at. This leads into #3 – Your pose.

For instance I have a oval face¬†but I have a very pointed chin, which when pointed up the angle gets lost, making my face look super round as you can see above. I have to place my head slightly to the side to catch my angles in the most complimentary way. You have to look in a mirror or play the selfie game to find your best angle towards the camera. It’s about your pose. Everyone knows to put your hand¬†on your hip to make those arms look toned and it helps the waist look a little smaller. To show you a real example check out the difference in the first picture where I wasn’t ready, and the posed one.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

See the difference? Also crossing your feet is a biggie. Just google celebrity red carpet. These ladies are coached on how to pose for photos. They usually have their hands on their hips and their feet crossed Рno matter how skinny they are. Crossing your feet allows for the hips to look curvier and legs slimmed down for a nice mermaid effect.

Ok , so next issue #4 – What you are wearing. ¬†I wore a shirt that wasn’t the most flattering. For those of us with wide midsections and generous arms its not the best to wear light solid colors on top (they don’t call it an apple shape for no reason). I didn’t find this out until I saw the photos and realized this was a no no, for me personally. So how did we fix it? In the pose. This one is self explanatory. Crossing my arms over my uncomfortable region made it go away. Therefore making a picture I was much happier with. Also look at my chin in the second picture, it’s more extended to make my face look more angular. My photographer gave me an AWESOME tip for double chins – push your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Works like magic – no photoshop needed.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

Also if you have a purse use that to your advantage. In this shot I used it to break up the solid space in my outfit. No, I’m not saying hide behind your purse but if you find yourself self-conscious of a certain area and are about to avert taking the photo all together you can certainly play up the accessory. But try to wear darker colors on the areas you are trying to slim OR get creative with the cuts of clothing and color blocking to accent areas you like and minimize areas you don’t.

4 Big Reasons You look FAT in Photographs

My husband pointed out that a photo is merely a snapshot of a moving, breathing object. Angles that most people never see because we are constantly in motion and when you freeze frame that action in the wrong moment or bad angle, it’s not a reflection of what you may actually look like to anyone’s eyes. Angles are that important. Ultimately anyone can be photogenic. This thing people always say “I can’t take good photos” is a myth. You can take great photos with just a little bit of awareness around these four things. If you know your strong assets you can practice to make sure when you see a photo of yourself you feel like ” Oh that’s my new profile pic!” and not like ¬†“Delete that one or I’ll kill you.”¬†And sometimes the most attractive people feel like they aren’t photogenic but sometimes it has nothing to do with the photo and everything¬†to do with their inner image of themselves. Make sure the reason you hate “that” photo of yourself is because it’s a bad photo, and not because you hate yourself. Remember that a bad photo isn’t a true reflection always of what you look like, that at the end of the day what is on the inside is more beautiful that a photo could ever capture!

I really hope this helps! ¬†I wouldn’t post really unflattering¬†photos of myself otherwise. ūüôā

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Much love!


Let’s talk about body bashing.

So yesterday I was shooting some looks and I had some outfits I was super excited about. Knowing that I trusted my photographer, I knew I was in great hands. Once we got to a riskier outfit ( what’s risky about a romper, I don’t know ? Risky for me I think. ) I kept making bad comments about myself. My photographer¬†says to me ” Isn’t the reason you started this blog is to start accepting your self! Stop with those bad comments! ” Nail on head. I knew this was true. I replied to her ” I know, this blog is forcing me to work through my demons and try to love¬†who I am.” Bad habits die hard. She showed me some of the pics and I was elated to see the photos she had. Suddenly those bad feelings disappeared.

Where do these demons come from? Maybe media, maybe our family or friends, or maybe just a standard we set for us very long ago. ¬†The things I constantly harp on for myself are mostly things that I can’t change. My legs are too big – well they’ve been big since I was three. My family used to (affectionately) call me thunder thighs. Why do I hate something that is¬†so strong? In high school I was one of the fastest huddlers at my school, fast relay runner ( our record still stands at the school ) and triple jumper. I could leg press 200 lbs. There was a boy that would always make fun of me saying¬†I have the biggest calves he’d ever seen ( the reason¬†why I have to special order riding boots, are any shoe that is meant to go over my calf – forget gladiator sandals ). I can’t change that this is just the way they are, not matter how much weight I lose are gain, this is the reality. So why not start being thankful that these legs get me from A-B everyday. That these legs help me shoot weddings well or walk around beautiful cities all over the world. Thankful that I have two healthy legs to be able to swim, dance, or whatever.

Well I have beef with¬†my arms too. Oprah talking about her “wings” has got nothing on me. But somehow I forgot that at one point these arms at 16 could bench 100 lbs ( yup, badass right? ) That at 13 I was beating boys at arm wrestling ( not so bad ass if you wanted a date – oops). That I have two arms that allow me to wrap them around my husband everyday day when he comes home from work or hug a friend in need. That these are are strong and allow to me hold my camera up to my face and do a job that I love so much.

And now my waist. I feel bad for the waist area¬†really because it gets hated on the most from everyone. I have never had kids but for those women that I know have – that’s where your kid was made. Yea its got a few stretch marks now – earned battled wounds! Yea it might be¬†a little flabby here or there but that space is where your child grew, where you harvested that little growing alien into the beautiful person it is today. Maybe you don’t have kids and are thinking ” Well there not reason that my stomach should look like this , I don’t have any kids! ” Welp, a sentence I have said far too often. Doesn’t matter, either way , that is the space allows you to nourish yourself – be thankful that your organs are in working order and if you are healthy, that you are healthy!

We are so used to tearing ourselves down, instead of noticing the things we do like about ourselves. The things on the outside AND inside. We don’t practice giving gratitude to our bodies when our bodies can do such amazing things. We are not just here to look a certain way! I think it’s interesting how in the media, for men, bigger is better, stronger is better, and for women to be the thinnest and smallest possible is better – do you think that is an accident? I will let you draw your own conclusion about that.

But our thoughts have so much more power than we are sometimes aware of. Trust me, if you are telling yourself that you are fat or this or that Рyou are telling yourself what you want others to think about you. No one will ever think more of you, than you think about yourself ( well maybe your parents or best friends cause they are nice) but you are putting out a signal  about how you want to be read …make sure that signal is a good one. Our worth is more than whatever the number on the scale is.


Look in the mirror today and give gratitude for all the things your body can do. And then tell yourself you are one sexy beast and put on a slamming outfit so the world can see that too.