Old School Trick Photography Techniques

Trick Photography Photo Example

So I was reading through the morning newspaper the other day, not thinking about trick photography techniques at all, when I came across something really interesting. I have to admit I don’t know much about the history of trick photos, or how long photos have been manipulated to create images that look surreal and make people take a second look.

But there they were, right beside my morning coffee. So I figured I should make a post and share them with the rest of the world who don’t read Danish newspapers.

The photo above was sold by International News Photos in 1930.  Of course a zeppelin never came that close to the Empire State Building in New York, but maybe some poor readers were convinced that it actually happened.  I’m not sure about the level of journalistic integrity back in those days, but I’m sure a cover like that would have sold a lot of newspapers.

Old School Trick Photography Examples

This next one is  by a guy named Richard Avedon.  If you don’t know who that is, don’t feel bad.  My wife happens to be a fashion photographer so I know that he’s sort of the founding father of modern day fashion photography.   This is one of his photographs of a little known actress named Audrey Hepburn (if you’re not that old, she was a huge actress in old Hollywood).

Here you can see he used the technique known as multiplicity, but he also did some stretching of their necks.  The guy obviously was into fashion, and the fact that her head is covered with that sort of turban looking black thing, makes the necks stand out even more.  Overall a pretty funky, surreal looking image, it was inspired by Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland”.

Trick photography existed before fashion photography came along, and Avadon used a retoucher named Bob Bishop for a lot of his work (have to see if I can find some of those photos and post them sometime), but this editing he did himself.  So I guess he was kind of a fashion / trick photographer.

Richard Avedon Trick Photographer

This last one reminds me of a ferris wheel, and I have to say I am darn impressed by the skills of this trick photographer.  I mean besides the grain of the film, and the fact that it’s black and white, the attention to detail in the photo is pretty amazing.

Look at how the guy furthest down and to the right appears to have his hand on the guy wh0’s holding them all up.  And it really kinda looks like the feet of those two guys are resting on the poor middle guy’s shoulders.  I mean to think that they pulled off these kinds of trick photography techniques without photoshop kinda blows my mind.

I wish I could give credit to the photographer, but all the article said was that he was American.  There’s no record of who took and created the actual image but talk about some cool trick photography techniques.

Ferris Wheel Trick Photo


So there you can see what kinds of trick photos people were making 80 years ago.  Kinda nice we have photoshop now to make our lives just a little bit easier.

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