TikTok Is Enthralled With This iPhone Photographer's Simple Trick

Photographer Anthony Schmidt, who is only 14 years old, has been captivating audiences on TikTok and Instagram with his images, and as of April 1, 2022, he even held his own solo gallery show.

Along with his over 500K followers on TikTok and over 30K on Instagram, as a massive car enthusiast Schmidt has also gathered an equally-massive collection of toy vehicles — many of which he customizes himself with extra details. The young photographer then takes his small replicas out into the world, sometimes with additional props and detailed surfaces, to take photos using an iPhone. His videos that show off this process, usually paired with the results of the shoot, have amassed tens of thousands of views each.


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But what sets Schmidt's photos apart from something you might see in promotional toy photography or an eBay listing is his eye for composition, lighting, and the way he makes these scale reproductions look like the real thing. His work joins that of Devid Levinthal, Jules Ober, and many other skilled photographers who use toys and models as their subjects.

Camera tricks and toy cars

The detail of Schmidt's cars, backdrops, and other set dressing is incredibly important for making the photographic illusion work, but the most vital aspect is perspective — or, more specifically, forced perspective.

By manipulating the framing and focus, photographers are able to trick the eye into believing objects are larger, smaller, closer, or farther away than they actually are. It's a trick that has been used for quite some time in both photography and film — sometimes for the sake of visual effects, and sometimes just for laughs (i.e., most tourist photos of the Leaning Tower of Pisa). This, coupled with Schmidt's keen eye for detail, placement, and lighting results in images of toy cars that can be difficult to believe aren't actually real.

Schmidt's mother, Ramona, has said that he started taking realistic-looking photos of his toy cars when he was six, which would be around 2014. It will be interesting to see how far his work can go in another eight years.