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Faking Before/After Weight Loss Photos With the Power of Lighting and Posture

By Hanssie on November 8th 2014

It’s that time of year. The days are shorter, the weather is getting cooler and the holidays are just around the corner. The season of indulgence is nigh – time to dig  those stretchy pants in anticipation of all the turkey, pies, candies and gym excuses. But never fear, come New year’s resolution time, you don’t even have to go on a diet to look good in that bathing suit. Just make sure you have proper posture and good lighting.

As photographers, we know the power of good lighting and posing. Lighting can change your images dramatically by shadowing areas to make them look more defined or lighting areas to make them more flat. A flat-footed stance will make your subjects look less flattering than if your subject angles their body, putting their weight away from the camera. And adding a smile always helps.



One industry that relies on ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos to document a drastic ‘change’ is the weight loss industry. In every magazine, late night infomercial and even Facebook ads, these comparing/contrasting photos are pushing products that promise major results if you only buy their product (and put on lots of makeup, get your hair styled and put on a big smile). But is that really the case?  In the following video, photographer Ben Cope photographs 4 people and ‘fakes’ before and after photos by only changing the lighting and their posture, no diet pills (or Photoshop) needed.

Cope, who calls the experiment a “lighting gag,” adjusts the lighting so that the shadows fall just so to provide an illusion of more muscle definition and a shapelier figure on each of his models. The video will make you want to pick up another pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey and a good lighting kit from B&H so you can walk around all the time with a bikini ready body.

The last model even lost his beard from the before and the after. Now that, my friends, is really good lighting!

This video is a good reminder/demonstration for us photographers whose jobs is to make our clients look their very best, and what easier way to do it than with some light and proper posing techniques? You don’t even have to open up Photoshop.

[Via Yahoo Screen]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    Yeah, except it’s pretty obvious that both of those people are already quite ripped to begin with, even in the before photos you can see ridiculous thigh-gap on the woman, and muscles on the guy. The only person who belonged in this demo to begin with was the girl in pink, and even she had a good body to begin with.

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  2. Barry Cunningham

    Pulling your hair back or shaving also makes a big difference.

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  3. Herm Tjioe

    Thanks for scouring the dark recesses of the interweb

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  4. Brandon Dewey

    Great Video

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  5. Matthew Riley

    Thanks for sharing. I am working on my post processing to make my photos look the best.

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