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14-year-old turns people tiny in eerie, dreamlike photos

Today
Teenage photographer Zev Hoover took this startling series of surreal self portraits.

When a series of beautiful photographs started to make the rounds online last week — eerie shots of miniaturized people posed against dreamlike backgrounds — photo enthusiasts across the Internet were impressed with the maturity and skill of the photographer identified on his Flickr page as simply “Zev.”

But it turned out that this professional photographer had a secret: He’s just fourteen years old.

Zev Hoover lives in a Boston suburb where he is home schooled by his mother, a sculptural artist. When he was younger, Zev took pictures on a cell phone for fun.

Recognizing his budding talent, his mom bought him a point-and-shoot camera on eBay. Then a better one. Then an even better one. Now he has two cameras — his regular camera, which he named "Betsy," and his film camera, whose name is "Diana."

“I like naming things,” he says. “My bike is named Patrick.”

The youngest of four kids, Zev watched his older siblings pursue their own creative interests, and worked with his sister Nell on some ideas for pictures.

Today
Zev got his start with a cell phone camera, but quickly progressed.

“My sister is more of a writer, but she is sort of my partner in crime,” he says. “I do the actual work with the camera and edit the picture, but she helps with a lot of the concepts.”

Zev credits Nell with coming up with the concept that would make him an Internet sensation. He even chose his Flickr username, “Fiddle Oak,” because it was a play on the words “Little Folk.”

As for how the photos come together, he explains his process: “I shoot what I call the background — the scene, without props, first. Often it’s a collage of multiple pictures. Then I try to match the lighting of that picture and take pictures of people in the right position to be in the pictures, then I shrink them in Photoshop and change the colors so they match the background a little bit better, then I do overall color editing to make them match. It takes a long time.”

  • Slideshow Photos

    Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

    14-year-old Zev Hoover has become an online sensation for these eerie, dreamlike photos.

  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Little people -

    14-year-old photographer Zev Hoover has gained an online following with these portraits, in which miniaturized people play in eerie, dreamlike landscapes. As in this photo, Zev often plays with focus to create a textured image.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    Field of dreams -

    Zev collaborates on his photos with his sister, who he says often helps with the concepts.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Sail away -

    Many of Zev's photos are self portraits. Here he gets ready to set sail on a boat made from the pages of a book.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    Balancing act -

    Zev posts the miniature portraits under the name "fiddle oak," which he chose as a play on the words "little folk."

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Stair master -

    The teenage photographer says he first shoots the scene without any props, and his final images are often a collage of multiple photos.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Water baby -

    Zev first started taking pictures with a cell phone, before graduating to a point-and-shoot camera, and then better and better models.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Trick or treat -

    Zev did this spooky image for Halloween. It's a photo trick - and a real treat.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    Day dreamer -

    To turn the figures in his photos tiny, Zev shrinks them in Photoshop. "It takes a long time," he says, of achieving the overall effect.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    Fly away -

    This girl floating away on a red balloon looks like a storybook character.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Magnified -

    This image captures the theme behind Zev's photo series: playing with perspectives.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Grandfather clock -

    A play on the idea of a "grandfather clock," here's a grandfather and a pocketwatch.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Up in the air -

    After photographing all the elements separately, Zev painstakingly matches the color in each image to create one seamless, surreal picture.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Open water -

    Perfect for a heat wave, this picture of a playful raft made of popsicle sticks evokes lazy summer days.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    In the woods -

    This was the very first "little folk" image that Zev posted on his Flickr page.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Squirrel ride -

    Even the most skilled photographer likes to have a little fun.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
  • Teen photographer creates tiny portraits

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    Paper snowman -

    Zev sometimes incorporates sketches and drawings into his photographs, like this one.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover
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    Tiny typist -

    This image has a haunted, vintage feel. For more of Zev's photos, check out his Flickr page.

    Zev Hoover / Zev Hoover

Zev’s hard work has clearly paid off. Even before he caught the attention of popular design and photography blogs, he had befriended other photographers through Flickr and credits those people, most of whom he has never met in real life, for encouraging him.

“I’m inspired a lot by the community there,” he says. “It’s two-way, and it inspires and invigorates me a lot. There is so much good energy.”

As for the recent success of his work, he says simply, “It’s just so lucky and random.”

When Zev isn’t working on his photographs, he can usually be found reading tech blogs or building and flying model airplanes. And although it’s a few years down the road, he has thought about going to college, possibly to study art or graphic design. In the meantime, he’ll be keeping up his photography work — and maybe even putting together a book.

All this before he’s even old enough to drive.

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