WOODINVILLE, Wash. — A Woodinville teen who found a way to combine his love for classic cars and photography has amassed social media fame and caught the attention of some big names, by amazing audiences with his clever use of forced perspective.
The 14-year-old and his mother are also outspoken about how autism gives him a unique way of looking at the world that is instrumental in his art.
Anthony Schmidt's passion for cars was clear from a young age.
"By the time he was three he could name every make and model of car," said his mother, Ramona Schmidt.
At around six years old, Anthony began using his mother's iPhone to take pictures of diecast cars. He used a mixture of miniature props, texture, natural scenery and forced perspective to make the tiny cars look life-sized.
"It all started off with one little wooden car," Anthony said. "It wasn't realistic but I thought it looked so real, but it was sitting on my camera roll for so long. I didn't really think anyone would care about it."
As Anthony progressed, his mom looked for a place to show others his talent, eventually posting the photos on social media.
"For the longest time I had them on my camera roll and I thought they were the greatest thing ever, but I never showed it to anyone, until around about age 9 I was just like getting totally blown away every time he took photos, so I posted it to a local neighborhood Facebook group, and that's just kind of when it went viral," Ramona Schmidt said.
After several years of building up a social media following, Anthony now has more than half a million followers on TikTok alone.
Anthony has begun incorporating detailed model buildings and faux ground textures that he builds for the pictures, which make the images truly eye-popping.
Anthony's fans encouraged him to make a book and a calendar of his photos, which performed well enough for him to buy his own classic car; a 1959 Studebaker Silver Hawk. A second car was donated to him by a fan.
"I'm making money off of a hobby that I like to do," Anthony said. "That's like the American dream to make money off of something that you like to do."
Anthony's success led to a gallery showing in Spokane. His use of the iPhone to take his pictures was also recognized in a tweet by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Anthony was also featured in an article by People, where Ramona Schmidt talked about how Anthony uses his mind to come up with ways to bend visual perspective, and only makes minimal edits to his photos. The miniature car, the setting, lighting and the angles are all working together in Anthony’s vision.
Ramona Schmidt calls Anthony a shining example of talent and creativity overcoming stereotypes and labels.
"People often say, 'he's a great photographer, so why would you even mention he's autistic?'" Ramona said. "We always tell them that he's this unique and amazing photographer because he's autistic."
Anthony's collection of nearly 3,000 cars is nearly as impressive as his ability to name them all by make, model and year. His collection has taken over his entire bedroom, the media room and many closets throughout his home.
Ramona Schmidt calls her son the best kind of influencer, who inspires other kids through his abilities and persistence. His book and calendars continue to sell, and a second book is already in the works, Anthony said. To look at his products and view more of his photos, visit his website here.