Share on Facebook

A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Can You Tell Which Image Has Been Photoshopped?

Even people who think they are masters at detecting digital trickery can be fooled thanks to the latest and greatest apps. And with so many photos being altered in some way, it's more important than ever to know what's real and what's just wishful thinking.

1 / 10
dogCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

Puppy play

Not even the world’s objectively cutest things—puppies and babies—are immune to getting a few little tweaks to make them just that much more adorable. In this picture, we’ve enlarged and widened the pup’s eyes to give him an even more innocent look when he’s begging for treats. (We also cleaned up a bit of saliva off his tongue!) See if you’re part of the one-third of people who can tell how these photos were tweaked.

2 / 10
selfieCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

The art of the selfie

Digital retouching was made for selfies, and thanks to apps like Facetune, now you can do everything from banishing a blemish, smoothing out wrinkles, or hiding a double chin to making yourself into almost an entirely new person. For this selfie we applied a “brightening” filter, corrected uneven skin coloring, smoothed out wrinkles, and boosted eye and lip colors. It still looks like her, just on a really, really good day. Don’t get too caught up in the retouching process though. Experts say that there’s a trend of people now getting plastic surgery to look more like their enhanced online photos!

3 / 10
brideCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Who’s the most beautiful bride of all? Our model already looked stunning as she tried on dresses for her big day, but did you notice that we nipped in her waist and enhanced her hips to give her even more of an hourglass figure? It’s a very popular tweak done to social media pictures (the Kardashian sisters are famous for it!) and many of us fall victim to the incredible shrinking waist trick. So if you ever feel down, worrying that you can’t measure up to those perfect beauties on Instagram, just remember that real women need ribs and internal organs! Take a look at these tips to make yourself look better in photos—no digital altering required.

4 / 10
bubbleCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

Blowing bubbles

This adorable boy is showing off his bubble-blowing abilities, but you probably noticed that we gave him a little digital boost, turning his small bubble into a much larger orb. That wasn’t all we changed though! Sharp-eyed viewers will note we added a little sparkle to those mischievous eyes and brightened his coloring. For another new perspective on photos, check out these images of everyday objects from a side you rarely see.

5 / 10
mountainCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

Climb every mountain

Sharing photographic #proof of your adventures is half the fun of traveling, and thanks to digital tools you can make your scenic shots look even more impressive. Clearly, we enhanced the colors to make the sky, mountains, and water as stunning on screen as they are in real life. But we also widened the stream, increasing its beautiful curves, and added a few hundred feet to the mountains to make them even more towering than in real life. Sometimes the fantasy really is better than reality—check out these fake photos we really wish were legit!

6 / 10
exerciseCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

Need to lose ten pounds? Try the digital diet

Diet and fitness “progress” pictures are some of the most popular images on the Internet today, and they’re probably the least believable, falling prey to more digital tricks than most. Our model was already quite fit, but growing and shrinking a few key areas gave her that coveted round bottom, shapely hips, tiny waist, and perky bust that are so popular right now—and all without a single extra squat or bowl of kale. Subtle lighting changes also make her muscles appear more defined. Check out these actual before-and-after weight loss photos that offer some serious motivation.

7 / 10
hairCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

The hair apparent

Who hasn’t wished for fuller, shinier hair? You could pay for expensive dye jobs, extensions, and styling products—or you could just fake it with the digital version. We boosted our model’s hair, enlarged her braid, and added golden highlights for a straight-from-the-salon look. For some more tricky photos, see if you can spot the animals camouflaged in these.

8 / 10
baseballCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

We’ll root for the home team

Sitting in the cheap seats made our view of this baseball game a little skewed, but that was nothing a little Photoshop couldn’t fix! This change is probably the most subtle, but if you’re perceptive you’ll notice that the vantage point is altered, the horizon straightened out, and the colors fixed just a bit. Now the picture matches the experience (minus the smell of nachos). Not sure if what you’re looking at online is real? Here’s one way to check to see if a photo is faked.

9 / 10
dollCourtesy Charlotte Andersen

The no-makeup makeup look

You could invest a lot of time and money into learning how to skillfully apply makeup. Or you could let an app do it for you! One of the most popular digital selfie adjustments is to fix makeup or add it in where it didn’t exist before. This doll-faced woman got her freckles lightened while getting an extra layer of blush, lipstick, and eyeliner. We also blurred out the background to keep the emphasis on her face and make it less obvious this was a bathroom selfie. See if you can identify these everyday objects from their close-up pictures!

10 / 10
Courtesy Charlotte Andersen

Snow bunnies

Adding a filter is one of the simplest and yet most powerful and widely used photo manipulation tricks out there. In one click, the app can change the lighting, colors, saturation, and other factors while adding in fun details that didn’t exist in real life. There are hundreds of types of filters, ranging from old-fashioned effects to funny stickers to ones made specifically for enhancing portraits, scenery, or food pics. Are you good at seeing detail? Test your abilities by seeing if you can spot the differences in these tricky photos.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.