He also taught himself the art of making the photos of the tiny cars, which are taken in front of a variety of different backgrounds, appear amazingly life-size. “I enjoy it, it’s something I do every day without fail,” says the teen from Woodinville, Washington. Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Anthony Schmidt, 14, has 500,000 TikTok followers who are enthralled by his optical abilities. Anthony Schmidt, 14, is autistic and has found out how to use his iPhone to capture images of miniature automobiles in various settings that look to be life size. Anthony Schmidt may be young, but he has a long history of collecting toy automobiles. Anthony, now 14, tells PEOPLE that he began collecting realistic die-cast miniature automobiles when he was about three years old. He began photographing the autos with his iPhone when he was six years old.
Anthony Schmidt, 14, has autism and figured out how to use his iPhone to take photos of miniature cars in a variety of different backgrounds appear amazingly life size. After his mother posted one of Anthony’s photos of a miniature 1953 Chevy 3100 pick-up truck to a neighborhood Facebook group, it went viral. Now, he has over a half-million followers on TikTok, where he regales viewers with daily videos of how he creates his magical forced-perspective photography of his 2,600 miniature cars.
Two years ago, Greg Wilkinson — a fan of his work whom Anthony, then 12, had never met — gifted him the classic automobile. “When we asked why he did it he just said, ‘I don’t know I just felt he should have it,’ ” says Anthony. 1 in 44 U.S. Children Are Diagnosed with Autism, New CDC Data Suggests The teen’s mom, Ramona, credits Anthony’s autism for fostering his artistic gift. “It’s because of his autism that he’s able to do this,” she says. “His visual perception is off the charts whenever it’s tested.”
The teen takes his photos with an iPhone 13 Pro Max, using the wide-angle lens setting. He does minimal editing, relying on creative camera angles to help create the imaginative scenes. Ron Funches Celebrates His Son Malcolm on Autism Awareness Day: ‘Teaches Me So Much Every Day’ Anthony Schmidt, 14, has autism and figured out how to use his iPhone to take photos of miniature cars in a variety of different backgrounds appear amazingly life size. His impressive skills have earned him his own calendar, a book, gallery shows, and even an actual vintage Ford car from 1957.
“People with autism are visual thinkers and very detailed people. It’s an advantage for him,” she continues. “And the photography is such a good boost for his self-esteem.” Anthony Schmidt, 14, has autism and figured out how to use his iPhone to take photos of miniature cars in a variety of different backgrounds appear amazingly life size. In November, for example, a TikTok video documenting how he created a variety of different photos went viral, getting over 1.8 million views. Currently some of his photos are featured in a show at the Kolva-Sullivan gallery in Spokane.
“You have to be very aware of scale and details and perspective,” says the home-schooled 8th grader, who usually wears earphones to help with sound sensitivity. Apple CEO Tim Cook even gave Anthony’s skills a shout-out on Twitter earlier this month, marking Autism Acceptance Month. “From the age of six, Anthony has expressed his love for photography. He now shares his larger-than-life iPhone images of model cars with fans around the world and his creativity really shines through!” Cook wrote.