Trick Photography: How’d They Do That?

The Trick

One can ponder whether this photo was enhanced with smart Photoshop effects, or was fully executed with the skill of an exceptional trampoline gymnast. There is a pretty good bet this youngster is the talent behind the photo. All of the variables exist to expose that this shot was taken as he was in a mid-jump pose above a trampoline – plus being outdoor and his shoes off basically gave the trick away.

Water and Glass Abstract Effects

Creating a picture like this takes an imaginative and artistic mind…and the help of some computer enhanced effects (Adobe Photoshop CS3 as stated by photographer). The water rings around the head popping through what looks like a sheet of textured glass, and the shadowing of a bright orange fish underneath, gives you the sense that this woman is emerging from the ocean to a more suitable and realistic environment.

If Only There Were Four

Taking this photo took a lot of planning and preparation. This entire picture is composed of actually four different shots taken at the exact angle and position. This is best accomplished with a tripod stand. For each shot, the setting was altered to achieve order and uniformity. So when all of the photos were joined, the picture would look coordinated to make a believable shot. A terrific trick photo!

Tiniest Smart Car

Taking this trick photo is quite simple. Once you have the perfect subjects involved, you are good to go. Just stand at a convenient distance from your target, position your fingers in a clasping gesture around the border so it looks like your holding it in place, and then try and snap a steady shot. This may take a few attempts, but can be easily achieved. Good luck!


Levitation photos are genius and mysterious all together. This idea allows photographers to be quite creative with their work. There are no adjustments on your camera that will allow you to get this shot, but some good planning, creativity and Photoshop modifications will do the job. For a photo such as this, you may need to take two different pictures – one of the model in proper stance/pose, and one of a complimenting background. With the appropriate Photoshop program, you will be able to superimpose your pictures to create a similar masterpiece. Remember to include some shadowing below the "floating image," to bring authenticity to your photo.

Traffic Jam Chaos

This photo started off as a simple display of a typical traffic jam, with cars along a roadway. All the other elements were later added in individually to get this chaotic plot. By incorporating relevant pieces – like a steering wheel and dashboard of a car, along with a screaming child atop the bonnet – genuineness is added to the original concept. Further dramatizing the photo with the giant reptile monster, fire and smoke, tanker and old man in wheel chair descending by helium balloons just took this photo to a completely different, and crazy, level of photography.

Mechanical Frog

This is a great photo! The colors and idea has such an alluring appeal. Whether this is supposed to be a superhero, or mechanical frog in disguise, this was just brilliant. All it took was some enhanced coloration and screen separation to achieve this photo. The pleasure of computer generated enhancements.

Upside Down

In essence, this is a scary photo – but for some reason it looks fun. There are a number of ways to experiment to get this shot, one of which you can try is to simply cut-edit the face and rotate to a 90 degree angle within the frame of the head. You may also need to clean up the shot with other touch-up photo editing tools.

Floating Island

Having a vision of an extraordinary plot is sometimes the magic behind an amazing photograph. This photo, for example, showcases some serious thought process. In actuality, the overall photo is evidently simulated. Islands don't float, and falling water from ponds doesn't just disappear in mid-air. By putting real elements together however, the artisit adds intrigue and imagination.

Miniature Lighthouse

Check out this miniature lighthouse trick photography. "How'd they do that?" It’s easy! Just stand at an appropriate distance and angle from the object with camera in hand. Give yourself enough room to show your hand stretching towards the object (lighthouse); form your hand and fingers in a holding motion to imitate yourself holding a miniature version of the lighthouse. Then, snap away until you get perfect shot. Keep steady, try different angles, and always try to show off the surroundings as much as possible.

Horse Bird

This one is a bit far-off on the bizarre end, but creates an interesting picture. This photo was produced by sizing two separate images and merging them at a common point (at the shoulders) with the same background and surroundings. Blending the colors also helps to add realism, yet distinguishes the two species.

Bob Marley Album Cover Trick Photo

You can try this type of trick photography with books, posters, and other massive pictures with persons in the right kind of poses. This shot of Bob Marley on this album cover is a terrific pose to emulate, and adding the guitar makes it even more complete. Sometimes adjusting your wardrobe and surroundings is the key to pulling off this type of trick photography.

Colorful Chickies

What a delight! A simple picture of a few chicks bundled together (as they always appear to be at this stage) with the focus being on one chic in particular. By leaving the true color of the chick in the middle, and adding color to the other surrounding chicks, the photographer managed to achieve emphasis and clarity on each of them in an innovative way. No, they didn't actually dye the feathers!

Tie Splash

There is no reason for a rolled up tie to dribble out water while it is floating over a massive seascape, but for some reason the artist wanted to depict this here. I wouldn’t imagine there were any original objects to modify in this photo, it seems all the elements were pulled together on a blank screen to arrive at this idea. Overall, it makes an interesting trick photo in a strange way.

Is He Holding a Pen?

Here is a smart trick photo. There were no enhancements or tweaking whatsoever, just a simple photo with a clever set up. By placing this mock lizard at the right location above a pen and snapping this photo from above, the photographer managed to give the illusion of the lizard clenching the pen in his mouth. Placing this arrangement on top a workbook also gives a touch of credibility, since there wouldn't be any reason for a lizard to snatch up a pen.

Spookie Horses

This picture demonstrates a great way to create ghostlike characters in your photos. You can see the variation of blurriness of each horse, and imagine the effect it can have on your audience. While there might have been a number of things involved in getting these subjects blurry – like movement and/or shutter speed adjustments – another simple and controlled way is to use photo editing tools.

The Darkside

If you are a sci-fi fan, this type of photography is a great way to exercise your imagination and skill. With a bit of role-playing by the model, i.e. an angry face, and hand covering the mouth, the artist further used Photoshop enhancements to dramatize the eyes and skin tone. From there, the photographer superimposed a scary mouth over the hand to create this dark and frightening picture. Adding an appropriate background also helps to complete this portrait.

The Tilt-Shift Miniature Effect

Obtaining miniature-looking images can best be captured with a tilt-shift lens. This allows you to control perspective in your image by tilting and shifting the lens in front of the sensor to produce an extremely shallow depth of field. It puts the main object in sharp focus, while the other surrounding ones are blurred. The skewed surroundings give the illusion you're looking at a miniature scale model of a scene.

Balancing Act

Some of the most popular trick photos are accomplished by merging two or more pictures in one. As shown here, combing two images of the same person in an altered pose, and outfit, and then putting both images in a common environment or background, can really get people talking. Producing a balancing act such as this is great to add drama, too.

Chicken or Yolk: What Came First?

It’s easy to tell what elements were added into an original shot. When more things coordinate in a photo, then they are likely to have been the first things in the shot. Also check for objects that look more realistic than others. Having said that, you can see in this scenario the original photo was with a skillet and freshly cracked egg. The chick, and perhaps cracked eggshells, were added in after.

Fractalius Light

This makes a mesmerizing piece. Taking this cat up close is one element of its appeal, and the other is the lighting effect whisking along the direction of its silky fur. This is further dramatized by the color enhancements of the eyes. This photo was modified with photo editing tools, however using laser pens, glow sticks, fire, sparkles, flash gels and other tools can create similar, psychedelic light-painting photographs.

Cross Breed

This picture demonstrates a great and interesting way to switch up things with the power of Photoshop tweaking. If you notice, there are certain features that this face shares, while there are others that are completely different. Note there is a common nose, mustache and lips. Also, the hair and shape of the face is uniform all around. Then see how the eyes, eyebrows and skin texture are different on each side. These specific changes combine to produce a unique but disturbing face.

Animated Habitat

Here is another way to get creative with your work. Merging elements and adding foreign objects, while placing things in unusual locations, make your audiences ponder and wonder – all while getting excited. This is a great animated concept, and something you would probably see in a book of fairy tale stories. There is pleasantness to it, and a terrific storyline.

Crop Circles

Lighting effects can be achieved through many means. This photo, in particular, demonstrates lighting enhancements more likely created from computer augmentations. With the circular patterning of the light reflecting off the wheat and such, this photo simply went from boring to intriguing.

Bad Hair Day

This is a fun trick photo to keep you guessing. There are quite a few things that could have been done to this photo to get this result. A pretty good guess would suggest that she was just laying on the floor when this photo was taken, it would explain the theatrical hairdo, and the reason her necklace droops to one side. After all, that wouldn’t have happened if she was standing up.


  • The information offered in this article is based on notations made by the photographers. In cases where no notations were made available, the opinions supplied are the author's own.