Photographers Recreate Leibovitz’s Ronaldo and Messi Photo with an iPhone


Two photographers perfectly recreated Annie Leibovitz’s record-breaking picture of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Photographers Manuel Bechter and Manuel “Romez” Rom were inspired to reproduce Leibovitz’s portrait of the world’s two most famous soccer players playing chess — after the image went viral.

@manuel_bechter PHOTO TRICK📱Pose like Messi and Ronaldo ⚽️👯‍♂️ #sportsphotographer #tiktokphotography #worldcup2022 #wm2022 ♬ original sound – manuel_bechter

While Leibovitz used a Fujifilm GFX100S and composite editing for the now iconic shoot, Bechter and Romez instead ingeniously used Panorama mode on a smartphone to produce their image.

Bechter’s and Romez’s behind-the-scenes video from the shoot amassed over 8.7 million views on TikTok. Social media users applauded the photographers’ simple idea and stunning execution.

messi ronaldo

“We try to make super cool and impactful photos with easy tricks so that they are as reproducible as possible,” the content creators say.

“These tricks include optical illusions and photos with the panorama mode of the phone, among others.

“As soon as we saw the original photo of Ronaldo and Messi on Instagram, we realized it would be perfect to recreate using our panorama trick, for which we are well-known.”

‘The Panorama Trick’

To recreate Leibovitz’s photo, Bechter and Romez set the smartphone camera to panorama mode and placed the device on a tripod — with the goal of duplicating Bechter as both Ronaldo and Messi in the image.

The photographers started the panorama shot and captured the first pose which was Bechter seated as Ronaldo.

The pair then stopped the motion of the panorama on the smartphone while Manuel exited the shot and prepared for the second pose as Messi.

Bechter then came back into the frame for the second pose where he took Messi’s position in the photograph before finishing the panorama move.

“As for the outfit, Manuel was wearing two sweaters on top of each other that were meant to match Messi’s and Ronaldo’s looks,” Romez explains.

“And he took the one sweater off when posing for the second time to make the recreation as realistic as possible.”

@manuel_bechter Smartphone Photo Trick 📱🎃 Halloween 🔪 #halloween #halloweencostume #halloweenlook #spooky #photoshoot ♬ Unholy – Sam Smith & Kim Petras

However, there was one detail in Bechter’s and Romez’s photo that was intentionally different from Leibovitz’s original image.

“One fun fact to create content with the potential to go viral is to incorporate a small mistake in the photo, a so-called ‘Easter egg,’ in order to catch the attention of people who really analyze our photos in detail,” the photographers explain.

“In this case, we took the white king out of the chess game and put it to the side. Indeed, several people actually commented on the photo and mentioned that the game was over already because the king was no longer in the game.”

Second-Most-Liked Instagram Post Ever

Leibovitz’s photograph of long-term soccer rivals Ronaldo and Messi playing chess on top of a Louis Vuitton bag for an advert quickly became the second-most-liked Instagram post ever. Ronaldo’s post of the pair has over 41.7 million likes.

A photo of an egg holds the record for the most-liked Instagram post ever with over 56.1 million likes.

Fans were left disappointed by Leibovitz’s photo when a behind-the-senes video revealed the soccer duo was not actually in the same room together.

Messi and Ronaldo were asked to pose in their respective positions before being composited together in editing.

More of Bechter’s and Romez’s work can be seen on their website, YouTube channel, and TikTok.

Follow Bechter on Instagram and Romez on Instagram.

Image credits: Header Photo left by Manuel Bechter & Romez, right by Annie Leibovitz