Use Photo Magic to Trick Your Eyes And Play Pranks With Friends


Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

Last week when Jen of team Photojojo went to New York for a few days, we wanted her to know how much she was missed.

We thought long and hard about how we could prank her upon her return…

…Fake parking tickets on her car?
…Stapler in a Jell-O mold?
…Cover everything in post-its?

It was a hard decision, but in the end we knew the best way to prank her would be by using what we all love best: Photography!

What did we do? Read on to find out and try it yourself!

How to use photography to prank your friends and coworkers!

So What Happened?:

before Here’s what we did:

We knew we wanted to mess with Jen’s desk, but just taking the stuff off the top of it seemed like it might be small potatoes for such a photo-lovin’ group.

Then it hit us, like a brick wall. Er, a photo of a brick wall, that is.

We’ll replace all her real-world things with photographs!

We worked into the wee hours of the night like mad photo scientists, and we’re happy to report: it was a success!

Now we’ve cooked up a step-by-step guide so that you can try it too!

What You’ll Need:

  • A photo printer & photo paper
  • A digital camera
  • Any basic image editing program
  • Scissors
  • A ruler or measuring tape
  • A surface your friend uses regularly (This is what you’ll be photographing!)
  • A desire to convert real life to photo life! (And a friend who won’t cry when they find out all their things have been replaced!)

Step 1: Finding a good spot to imitate

beforeYou’ll be printing out an image the exact size of whatever you shoot, so it’s best to start small and simple ’til you get the hang of it.

We chose our desks because they’re a great small sized surface to take pictures on, easy to cut objects out of, and work as a great prank too!

Step 2: Making the Photograph

before Choose a lens or camera zoom setting that is “normal” (for a 35mm/DSLR camera, that’s a 50mm lens) and set your camera to it’s highest resolution.

You’ll want to stand in front of and above your subject. (We stood on a stool in front of our desks.)

Take a few pictures and check ’em out to check your position. You’ll want a photo where the desk looks straight, centered, and not warped or going out of frame.

Take a few extra photos too! Once you move the stuff off the table you can’t re-shoot, so get a couple extra angles just to be safe.

Before you move on, you have one more photo to take! Lay your measuring tape down on the desk with the rest of your setup and photograph it all again. (This will make things easier later!)

Step 3: Prepare for Printing!

before Open the image in any photo editing program.

The first thing you’ll want to do is crop your image.

You can do this in two ways: print out the whole surface of your desk or print individual objects to replace the real objects sitting on the desk.

This is where your measuring tape photo comes in handy.

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to print your desk, compare it to the measuring tape photo and you can easily find out how many inches wide you’ll have to print! (In this case it would be 13″ wide if we were only printing the laptop)

Step 4: Print it!

beforeNow you’ll have to set the “print size” of your photo in your image editing program to that amount. (Since we printed the whole desk, we set our print size to 30″.)

Since many items aren’t that small, odds are your image won’t fit on a single sheet of paper.

You can break a poster-sized image into smaller, printable pages with your own image editing software, or with an online tool like blockposters.com to break it up for you. You could also try taking it to your local copy center for an affordable poster print!

Step 5: Confirm & Compare

before Hold on a sec!

Before you start cutting up your freshly printed images, do a quick comparison to the real life images on the desk. Are they about the same size? If you place a real image on top of the printed out one, does it line up?

If so, you’re ready to go! Take the real stuff away and hide it somewhere your friend will never find it! (We put Jen’s stuff under her desk!)

Step 6: Let the Games Begin

beforeIf you printed your entire desk surface in multiple images, arrange the images to look like your friend’s desk surface.
If you printed the entire desk surface on one giant print, simply place it on top of the desk. You’ll have a portable version of your “desk” you can take anywhere!

If you decided to print out individual objects, cut them out carefully (experiment with keeping the shadows too!), and place them back on your desk where their original counter-parts were.

Voila! A photo illusion that changes depending on how you look at it!

Take it Further:

  • Cover a friend’s desk as we described, but then put all the original items back on top of the printout. Watch your friend do double takes as they pick up their first item!
  • Photograph a messy drawer from above, then empty it and leave the mess in photo form!
  • Make cutouts and leave them everywhere you possibly can. (Hey, is that a dino on the sidewalk? What’s that floating laptop doing there?)
  • Photograph your bed, so that you can always keep a comfy copy on hand should you need it during work or school!
  • Clear your kitchen or bathroom counter by reducing all your bottle clutter in favor of something flat!
  • Try photographing a scene through a window. Print it out, hang it in the window frame, and enjoy sunny skies every day of the week!