Why do Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter look so small next to the Bidens in this viral photo?

US president and first lady met the Carters at their home in Georgia last week

In this April 30, 2021, photo released by The White House, former President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter pose for a photo with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden at the home of the Carter's in Plains Ga. (Adam Schultz, The White House via AP)
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The internet is having a field day after an oddly shot photo of US President Joe Biden and wife Jill, along with former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, went viral.

Posted on Tuesday, the photo shows the Bidens at the former president's home in Georgia last week.

“We’re pleased to share this wonderful photo from the @POTUS and @FLOTUS visit to see the Carters in Plains, Ga.! Thank you President and Mrs. Biden!,” The Carter Centre, a foundation run by the former first family, posted on Twitter.

But the picture, in which the Bidens seem abnormally large in comparison to the Carters, immediately caused a stir online.

Scroll through our gallery of other awkward US presidential photo-ops below:

Actress Meredith Salenger, who shared the new photo on Twitter, said the Carters' home looked like a dollhouse, and that the Bidens were from Gulliver's Travels.

"We voted for Biden because he's a decent human being with sound policies but also because he and Jill are giants who will crush you if you make them angry," one user joked.

Another Twitter user said the Carters looked like miniatures in the photo:

There was even a Lord of Rings reference:

While the Bidens are not much taller than the Carters, the image is a result of distortion caused by using a wide-angle lens, according to Guardian photographer Carly Earl.

"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," she explains.

"Unfortunately, if you use a lens that is really wide, while also standing very close to the subjects, it will distort the photo, making those close to the camera appear giant while shrinking those further away."

The use of a strong flash could also have contributed to the optical illusion.

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter (C) walks US President Joe Biden and US first lady Dr. Jill Biden out after they after visited former US President Jimmy Carter, April 29, 2021, in Plains, Georgia. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski

"Although President Biden is kneeling much farther in front of Rosalynn Carter, the flash reduces shadows, a key part of what allows objects to have depth," The Washington Post explains. "The resulting effect is that Biden and Rosalynn Carter appear to be side-by-side on the same plane."

The Bidens are not much taller than the Carters in real life, Jimmy Carter's biographer Jonathan Alter clarified.

Jimmy Carter, 96, is reportedly 176.7 centimetres, while Rosalynn, 93, is 167.6cm. Joe Biden is 179.8cm and Jill Biden is reportedly 170.6cm.

Some on Twitter offered their own edited version of the photo:

Those who wish to create similar optical trickery do not need special gear, photographer Earl explained.

"If you have an iPhone 11 or 12 you actually can use the wide-angle setting in the camera on the phone to capture a wider field of view. So just ask whatever former president you encounter to step back slightly, then get yourself in front, and snap," she said.

"If you’ve got a professional camera with interchangeable lenses, you can get an even more dramatic result. If you use a lens with a focal length of, say, 10-15 millimetres, you can make yourself loom over a Potus (or their friends and family members)."

The Bidens' stop in Plains was part of a swing through Georgia to mark the president's first 100 days in office, according to the Associated Press. The private meeting brought together the oldest sitting president and the longest-lived former president in history.

“We sat and talked about the old days," Biden said of his visit.


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