‘Giant’ Bidens With Little Carters Photo Isn’t A Photoshop Fail
By Mikelle Leow, 05 May 2021
Image via The Carter Center
Take a quick glance at this photo by the Carter Center and you might be fooled into thinking that the Bidens are now collecting lifelike dolls resembling former presidents. The truth is, none of the four characters above are synthetic. They’re all real, human-sized people.
Former US president Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter’s human rights and health foundation, The Carter Center, took to Twitter on May 3 to share a photo of their recent meeting with the current president and first lady Joe and Jill Biden. Immediately, the proportions of the image struck fans as odd, as the Carters looked markedly tinier than the present first couple.
The wheels in social media users’ brains began to turn, and the image became a topic of sizable debate. Was this a Photoshop job gone wrong? How tiny are the Carters, really? If they all stood up, would the proportions look even more bizarre?
Internet users teased that the Carters have been living in a dollhouse, and that the Bidens have taken up ventriloquism as a hobby.
There’s more reason to believe that the picture looks like this because of the way it was shot, rather than shrugging it off as a “Photoshop fail”—if anything, it needs altering. As fact-checking media outlet Snopes points out, it’s unlikely for the Carter Center to manipulate a photo to the point where the people it represents are “denigrated.”
A more plausible explanation is that the photograph was taken using a wide-angle lens, which is normally used in cramped spaces and when the camera cannot fit all subjects into a shot. Wide-angle lenses exaggerate perspective, so people or objects closer to the camera will always appear larger.
And since there’s not much room for the photographer to stand, they’ll usually have to move closer to the subjects, which further creates the illusion of the people in front looking bigger. “When taking photos in a smaller space you often don’t have room to move far enough back to get everyone in the frame, so you use a lens that can take it all in," theorized The Guardian resident photography expert Carly Earl.
A secondary reason, which might have pushed the illusion over the edge, is that the Bidens are indeed taller than the Carters, though the difference isn’t as dramatic as visually depicted. Per Snopes, Jimmy Carter was reported back in 1976 to have a height of five feet and 10 inches, while Joe Biden stands at six feet. Meanwhile, Jill Biden is believed to be an inch taller than Rosalynn Carter, who is five foot and five inches tall. People usually lose some height—about an inch or two—when they age, so that could be a factor too.
Jonathan Alter, the author of the His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life biography, also told the Washington Post that the Carters aren’t by any means “tiny people,” but between presidents and first ladies, they lean to the “medium-to-smaller” side.
One more pressing point of contention is that the Bidens hadn’t masked up around the Carters in this photo, even though the elderly are known to be more vulnerable to the coronavirus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms that “fully-vaccinated people can gather indoors without physical distancing or wearing masks with other people who are fully vaccinated [and] unvaccinated people from one other household.”
There. I fixed it. pic.twitter.com/dmjLiX3oXk— 🌊 Deonardo La Vinci 🌊 (@DeonardoLeVinci) May 4, 2021
are the Biden's huge or are the carters furniture just very small— Dave, CEO of Big Jewish Space Lasers (@D_llack) May 4, 2021
What kind of “living arrangement” is this? Does JIMMY CARTER live in a DOLL HOUSE? pic.twitter.com/DxBjo9ZtOK— Greg Kelly (@gregkellyusa) May 4, 2021
i can’t stop laughing at big bidens and baby carters pic.twitter.com/WIJxcqThra— Vincent Martella (@VinMan17) May 4, 2021
This shows you how distorted this picture is from the lens and the flash. This was a quick and dirty fix in Photoshop, but it's closer to actual sizes, look at the white area on the edges, you can see how it was distorted. pic.twitter.com/BGfxC84O1R— Dr. Linda #CharacterWins #NationalPopularVote laws (@gossamerLL) May 4, 2021
I like this photo has somehow become like a fairy tale riddle we all have to answer to cross a bridge https://t.co/gLbX8yw3GV— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) May 4, 2021
CANT SLEEP BECAUSE OF HUGE BIDENS pic.twitter.com/QtSkqDMf1I— Luke Mones (@LukeMones) May 4, 2021
[via Snopes, The Guardian and Refinery 29, cover image via The Carter Center]
More related news