In a Creative Slump? Try Trick Photography!

Trick Photography for Beginners

By Mindy Keegan

What is Trick Photography?

Have you ever seen a photograph that seemed to defy the laws of physics and wondered, “How did they do that?” Photographs of bending or swirling light, multiple exposures, or just mind-blowing photography is easily achievable if you know a few simple techniques. These techniques are known as trick photography. Trick photography has been around since the mid 1800’s and the techniques and styles have grown and expanded with advancements in technology and human ingenuity. So realistic, many times this technique will be mistaken for Photoshop. The good news is that you don’t need expensive programs to produce visually stunning photographs.

Why Learn Trick Photography?

If you feel your photography style has gone stagnant or you are bored with taking the same old scenic pictures, trick photography can light a new passion on the inside of you. Trick photography has a way of enabling your brain to see objects in a different light. It will encourage you to think in a new way as you try to get your photograph to look the way you imagine it in your head. Anything is possible! Although the field of trick photography may seem like a daunting world to crack into, starting with a few simple techniques can produce amazing pictures. As you practice and grow more comfortable, you will be able to expand and explore more advanced techniques, maybe even invent a new one!

Where can I practice trick photography? What do I need?

You will need a digital SLR camera, even the base model of any brand such as Canon or Nikon works great. I started with a Canon Rebel. You also need a brain! Using your imagination to frame the picture in your mind first will give you a goal to work towards. The more you practice the techniques, the more your imagination will develop and the more creative your pictures will be. Professional photographers have full studios where they can modify conditions; you only need a back yard, a bedroom, a classroom, anywhere, and you will be able to replicate a lot of the professional effects in your own photography.

What can you achieve with trick photography? What are some techniques?

Trick photography is mostly about replicating the same easy methods in new contexts to create your unique vision. Some of the techniques you can start with include using a tilt-lens, multiplying people or objects to fill a full screen, forced perspective, levitation, long exposure and light painting.

Tilt lens

Tilt-lenses can be expensive, but they provide fantastic results. This technique allows you to shift the focus of the piece to create a very shallow depth of field; in this way, you can create effects like turning a large panoramic landscape into a small model diorama.

Long Exposure

Long exposure allows for many effects you would usually think come from Photoshop. You can create a zoom effect in your photos or practice the recently popular technique of light painting. A personal favorite, light painting can produce wondrously unique photos that will have people wondering how you did it. Light painting can be as simple as taking pictures of fireworks or as detailed as manipulating light to create designs.


Panorama options allow you to stitch together several images. This gives you the opportunity to multiply one subject many times over the same background.

Forced Perspective

When you see photos of a person drinking from a giant bottle, holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or holding a friend in the palm of their hand, that is forced perspective. It’s one of the simplest but also most consistently effective forms of trick photography.

How can I learn trick photography?

By using trick photography can achieve a professional quality photo, without a large investment. Since these photos are taken traditionally, no expensive programs are required.

If you have the time to sift through them, there are a multitude of published books on the subject which you can check out for free at your local library. These books also often contain diagrams to explain the methods in a more visual way. If you’re an extremely visual learner, take advantage of either free online tutorial videos or low-cost online classes offered by fellow non-professional photographers.

I recommend a great program called Trick Photography and Special Effects. This program consists of a 295 page e-book and 9 hours of online tutorials. It is designed to help the non-professional photographer apply simple techniques to create amazing artistic compositions. Trick Photography and Special Effects will save you hours upon hours of trial and error trying to figure out how to create the looks you want. If you are ready to jump into trick photography, this is the best, most comprehensive and easy to follow program around. Get it here.

Mindy Keegan is a wife, mother, writer, researcher, and business owner.  She is the co creator of KeWe Workshop.


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