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Trying TikTok Photography ‘Hacks’ to See if They Actually Work


Photographers Rachel and Daniel at Mango Street decided to try out a few “photo hacks” they found on TikTok. These sorts of quick “hacks” are notorious for being fake or exaggerated, and they wanted to see which ones actually work, and which ones are only “meh.”

The duo tried five popular “hacks” in all: three for portraits, and two for product photography. And perhaps the most surprising thing is that they all at least sort of worked. Some required tinkering, and not all of them produced stellar results, but there was a nugget of truth behind all of them.

The most disappointing was probably the mirror/laptop hack, which seems like it has real potential until you actually try it…

  1. Toilet Paper Smartphone Snoot – Verdict: Works after some tinkering
  2. Mirror + Laptop = Cool Product Photos – Verdict: Kind of works…
  3. Crushed Ice Product Shots – Verdict: Totally works
  4. Phone Reflection Prism – Verdict: Works
  5. Flashlight Through a Strainer – Verdict: Tricky, but possible

If you recall, YouTuber Jessica Kobeissi recently debunked a bunch of ostensibly fake photography hacks that she found online, where the final image was clearly taken using professional gear, but the “hack” showed nothing more than a smartphone and some cardboard or a flashlight.

It’s nice to see that there are some genuinely workable hacks out there.

To check out all of the hacks above in action and see how Daniel and Rachel made them work, watch the full video up top. And if you like their quick-hit style of tutorials and tips, you can find more on the Mango Street YouTube channel.