Don’t you just love it when you put on a really nice outfit, simple but flattering, go out feeling confident in the way you look, even catch glimpses of yourself in window reflections along the way, only to end up looking at a spontaneously snapped photo, wondering “is that really the way my nose looks in real life?”
To keep it short: no, it’s not. Just like there are various formats for a video or audio file, there are various optical effects to consider when it comes to choosing camera lenses. This is the main reason why human faces look so different when observed in certain video clips, movies or photos.
When “the camera adds ten pounds,” it has nothing to do with your genetic lineage. Instead, it’s more about factors that affect how the piece is shot.
Less to do with genes, more to do with lens choice
The lenses you decide to use can ultimately be the determining factor when it comes to how you look in a photo or video.
In movies, you can see how the way the protagonist looks is adapted to suit the overall subject of the motion picture. It applies to the width of the face as well. This also happens in the art of photography, and it can be best observed in portraits.
When taking a professional portrait, it’s not common to use wide angle lenses because the result is a distorted face, most people describe as alien-looking. Therefore, to achieve a more flattering effect, a lens of around 35 mm can be an optimum choice because 35mm is closest to the same angle as your eye.
Visual perception can be modified in several ways by using the simple functions of a camera. The zoom, for example, can be used to create interesting and revolutionary effects.
There is no ultimate right or wrong when it comes to artistic expression. This being said, it is not illegal to apply certain effects that would be considered faux pas in the professional world. Experimenting and making mistakes is how the world’s innovations became masterpieces.
An example of such an effect is the famous dolly zoom, made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo. Since then, it started being used by professional filmmakers, like Stephen Spielberg, to set the tone of various scenes.
It is just this kind of effect that can be responsible for “adding the pounds” on camera.
The instant gratification of modern times
Nowadays, promising content creators, vloggers for example, are setting the tone for the most accessible Internet content available worldwide. They usually choose their cameras so as to make their work easy and fast.
If you are planning on becoming a video blogger yourself, you may want to take several factors into account when working with visual content.
- When the camera is closer, the subject appears thinner. This has such an effect on the final result, that some blame those “extra 10 pounds” solely on the proximity of the camera and not on focal length.
- Wide lenses place importance on the foreground over the background, while long lenses do the exact opposite.
- When it comes to focal length, the lower the number, the smaller the zoom.
Some say it’s psychological
We don’t really see ourselves from an outside point of view in our day-to-day lives. When we do, in a photo, for example, we perceive the difference to be extremely dramatic. Nonetheless, it might not be as pronounced as each of us is tempted to believe. Some think this may be the primary reason why most of us perceive these very pronounced differences.
Although it may seem mundane, subconscious perception can dictate the success or failure of someone’s video production.
Even though filmmakers have many important rules regarding shooting and editing, seeing them as simple tips for making your videos look better is better for your creativity than to consider them ultimate, unbendable rules. Breaking the rules can be what your video needed all along, so try out different approaches to see what works for your artistic concept.
Creativity is a game, not a must
Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, whatever the main reasons differences for the way cameras capture an image. The photographer can play around with different effects and create looks that express emotions and different ambiances in multiple ways. There is no “right” or “wrong.” There is just different.
Embrace your creative spirit and express your ideas in visual form, by testing out how the various effects you can come up with will modify what the message is behind it.