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Fat stomachs and double chins main concerns for camera-obsessed Brits

REIGATE, November 26, 2007 – Canon UK, world-leader in imaging technology solutions for the home and office, today unveiled research that shows 86% of Brits believe they’re un-photogenic and many are contorting their bodies into all sorts of positions in front of the camera in order to look good. Over half of us (52%) are insecure about our stomachs, and hold them in whenever a camera appears. A third of us take action to hide double chins being seen in photos.

The research, which questioned 1700 people across the UK, also shows that there is increasingly nowhere for people to hide – the popularity of digital cameras (95% of people have at least one digital photographic device) and social networking sites mean those bad photos of you with three chins will live forever on the web.  One in five people in the UK even believes that they have appeared in up to 5000 pictures in their lifetime.

The popularity of social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace (78% of total UK online population is part of a social networking site ), and photo-sharing sites, such as Flickr, ups the pressure for people to look good in every picture, as previously private photos are now being displayed to a public audience (often without the subject’s permission).  Canon research highlights the main tactics that Brits use to look good in photos:

• 52% of people admit to holding in their stomachs in photographs, rising to 60% of women, making looking fat our biggest fear.
• Having a double chin comes in second – 25% are happy to look slightly odd by thrusting their heads back every time a picture is taken, with Yorkshire men and women the most concerned (30%).  5% of people also try to avoid two chins by putting their tongue to the top of their mouth.
• One in five resort to turning to the side and one in ten cross their legs in an attempt to look thinner.
• The study found the public are also using professional tricks such as considering the position of the light source (19% won’t be photographed in direct sunlight and 3% insist on being lit from below).
• It isn’t just posing for the picture that offers the opportunity to improve how you look – one in five people admit to digitally re-touching photos to make themselves look better, rising to 41% of 16-24 year olds.
• Londoners are the most vain with more than a quarter admitting to regularly re-touching images to improve how they look (see the full National Vanity League below).

Other tactics employed to look better in front of the lens include placing one leg forward and thrusting shoulders back, pouting, keeping your mouth shut to hide unsightly teeth, taking photos from a distance and applying lots of makeup.  Some even admitted to running away at the last minute, making sure they were always the one behind the camera or more commonly, hiding behind someone else just as the picture is about to be taken.  Perhaps the Northern Irish have the right idea with one in ten just opting for standing next to someone less attractive than them.

The celebrity approach to avoiding a bad photo
The widespread use of social networking sites means we are at risk of having a bad picture taken and posted for all to see, with friends and family snapping us and uploading the results – flattering or otherwise.  Russell Clisby, resident Heathrow Airport photographer, of the BBC Airport series, has been snapping celebrities as they step off the plane for nearly 28 years.  He explains the tricks that celebrities use to look good at their worst:

• “Dark glasses, and they seem to be getting bigger and bigger and I have rarely seen Posh without hers on.”
• “The hat or hooded top is another celebrity security blanket, in most of my airport photos of Leo Di Caprio, he always has his hood up.”
• “It’s not uncommon for celebrities to re-touch their make-up before they land so they look good when they arrive”
• “Or the last resort – hide behind your minder.”

“Celebrities know that bad pictures will be the first to appear in the press because people aren’t used to seeing them looking less than perfect.  When taking photos of family and friends it’s better for people to just look natural and happy.  Make sure you’re being shot from above to avoid a double chin if you must, but the best photos are where the subject is enjoying the moment and not worrying about how they look,” Russell says.

Photo cheats using technology to improve their looks
Over half (53%) of those questioned claimed that digital cameras and the ability to manipulate pictures, using popular PC-based software, have made us a more attractive nation (a figure which rises to 64% in Wales).  Using the research, Canon has compiled a National Vanity League, which exposes the UK’s photo cheats.

Ranking Most likely region/country to re-touch digital images

1. London
2. Midlands
3. Yorkshire
4. Scotland
5. South East
6. North East
7. Wales
8. South West
9. East
10. North West
11. Northern Ireland

“While we love taking photographs and enjoy looking at the memories that we capture on camera, we still want to look our best when we are in the picture. There’s also added pressure now to look picture-perfect, as images that friends take are very likely to be uploaded for everyone to see. Luckily, technology available in cameras and photo-editing software means that it is easier than ever for us to look good,” comments Alessandro Stanzani, Head of Consumer Imaging, Canon UK.

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