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Top 10 Tips for Taking the Best Trick Photography Photos

Minh Hang

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The one consistent element that makes a photograph interesting are people. We just like to look at ourselves or other people. This applies to trick photography as well, whether it's levitation, forced perspective, light paintings, and more. Being able to extract the best out of people and put them in fantastical situations are what makes trick photography so mentally stimulating. So here are some great ideas for you to incorporate into your trick photography photos to take it from good to great.

1. Tell a personal story

When you photograph people, involve something that makes it more personal and individual. You could include their favorite people, objects, or pets. You could also go the other way and include things that they dislike on purpose. The idea is to have some sort of interaction that tells a personal story or capture a little bit of the true spirit of the person being photographed.

2. Have fun with your subjects

Most of my favorite trick photos are those that looks like a lot of fun to try. It invites the viewer to try it out for themselves. So the key to making sure your photographs look fun is to simply have fun! Get some close friends together and tell them what you're aiming for. Allow them to play around and experiment so you get that natural interaction and genuine smiles. Nothing kills the mood and fascination of a well-executed trick photo than a sour or gloomy face, unless you're aiming for that particular mood.

3. Don't get caught unprepared

If you're going to capture genuine smiles or anything else for that matter, remember to always be ready with the camera. Nothing is more frustrating than knowing a great photo opportunity passed right in front of you when you're not ready. Some of the best trick photographs I've seen are unscripted.

4. Nothing wrong with getting in close

The closer you are, the more personal a photograph is. Don't be afraid to get as close as possible and clip the people in the frame. After all, we're trying to create a mood, story, or a connection through our pictures, not recording everything in a scene for preservation.

5. Go outdoors

There are plenty of outstanding trick photography and special effect shots that are done in studios or indoors. Being indoors afford you more control over the environment and different variable, hence a great result. But I tend to pay more attention to those that are done outdoors if you present me with a gallery of indoor and outdoor trick photos. It's like watching a great magic trick and knowing that it is so much harder and therefore interesting when it is done outdoor.

6. Catch people off-guard

Among levitation photography enthusiasts, Natsumi Hayashi of yowayowa camera is one of the best self-portrait levitation photo-taker. Her beautiful photos of herself levitating in busy streets and ordinary locations makes her photos unique and almost surreal. The faces of people noticing her levitation efforts are where I derive the most joy from her pictures. I just can't help but imagine and wonder what goes through their head when they see a girl taking pictures of herself jumping in weird poses in the middle of the street.

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7. Use a different angle

Most of us tend to see the world from the same perspective because we all stand upright. Take photos from a low angle and you will see how different the world looks from the point of view of a child or pet. If you're taking forced perspective photos, then changing the angle of your camera can sometimes dramatically alter the end results.

8. Capture natural reactions or not

For normal photography, you want to capture natural emotions and reactions. While this also works for trick photography, I do find that going completely the opposite tend to produce interesting results. Because trick photography is sometimes surprising, using a totally out-of-place emotion or reaction further reinforces that message.

9. Pay attention to your background

The background is as important as the subject you are photographing. It should complement and not distract the eye from the subject. One thing you should pay close attention to are the colors of the background. Certain colors such as red can trigger the eye to look at it immediately and drag attention away from the main subject.

10. Knowledge and practice

To improve your photos you need to keep yourself up to date with new ideas and techniques that other people have come up with and tried. Innovation comes when old ideas and new ideas get combined and assimilated to become something new. Get some guide and books so you don't waste time learning what other people already know. Most of what I know comes from reading and learning from other people, and the rest from experimenting and experience.

Think different

Your imagination is your biggest trick photography asset. Photograph things and people that interest you and add your own twist into it. There are plenty of trick photos online but people are always interested to see more because each photographer is unique, in terms of skill, experience, point of view, message, and style. So keep these top 10 tips in mind when you are trying to take the best trick photography photos you've ever taken!

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