A YouTube influencer faked a luxurious Bali vacation with a photo shoot at Ikea, and all of her followers fell for it
- YouTube star Natalia Taylor wanted to see if she could trick her followers into believing she went on a luxurious Bali vacation.
- Taylor and photographer Ally Amodeo staged the entire photo shoot at an Ikea store.
- They left Ikea receipts in some of the photos to see if Taylor's followers would catch on.
- Amodeo told Insider she was "really surprised" that all of Taylor's followers believed she was in Bali.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
When popular YouTube star Natalia Taylor posted pictures of her luxury Bali vacation, her followers showered the posts with thousands of comments and likes.
From the Champagne bottles and envy-inducing pad, to the tropical wallpaper and picture-perfect tub, Taylor's trip looked like the classic Instagram influencer holiday.
But Taylor wasn't actually in Bali at all. The photos were all taken at an Ikea store down the road from her Los Angeles home.
Insider spoke to Taylor's photographer Ally Amodeo about how they pulled off the shoot, left Ikea receipts in the photos, and what they learned from the Instagram prank.
Taylor wanted to see just how easy it can be to fake a luxurious influencer vacation to her 331,000 followers on Instagram.
"It's been said that life on the internet isn't always what it seems, especially in today's day and age," she told her YouTube followers in a video revealing the prank. "And today, I am putting that to the test to see if I can fake an entire vacation by posting false photos and Instagram stories."
"The point of this video is to see if you can really fake it until you make it," she added. "So many influencers nowadays have been caught in the act pretending to be at a destination when they really weren't, and it's just either Photoshop or it's not even them. So today I'm going to test my followers and see if y'all are gonna fall for it. Don't believe everything you see on the 'gram."
Taylor knew Ikea would be the perfect spot for her fake Bali photo shoot, and not just because it was "right down the road" from her house.
"I always thought it would be funny to do a photo shoot in one of those little rooms and see how real it would look, because they set them up to look so cute," she said in the video.
"You could almost mistake them for a hotel or Airbnb, they really are that well-decorated. They don't look like store displays at all."
Taylor said her goal was to see how many photos she and Amodeo could take in the displays before "we get kicked out or it gets a little too awkward for our own good."
Amodeo told Insider that she was "a little bit nervous" going into the shoot, wondering if she'd be able to get a clear shot at Ikea during a busy Sunday afternoon.
"We were also expecting to get kicked out right away," she added. "We were hoping that we'd be able to hit the locations we had planned on, but knew the gig could be over at any minute."
As soon as they walked in, Taylor spotted the perfect display for her first batch of photos. But she admitted that things got awkward — fast.
"There's other customers staring at you, wondering what you're doing, you're trying to avoid interrupting people's shopping experiences," she said in the video. "But most of all you don't want to get caught by anyone that works there. That's the golden rule of shooting in stores: Don't get caught, or else you will get kicked out."
Amodeo told Insider that she initially thought she would be distracted by the shoppers around them, but quickly got into the zone.
"Once I started taking photos, I almost forgot that people were watching at all!" she said. "At one point, there were a couple of Ikea staff members watching us and we just figured we would get the shot anyway — which worked out because they ended up not caring at all!"
There's a reason why Ikea staff didn't stop Taylor. The Swedish furniture giant told Insider that it "encourages creativity."
"At Ikea, we love to see our customers engaging with the iconic room settings we feature in our stores," a spokesperson told Insider. "One of the things that makes Ikea so unique are the many different reasons customers come to visit — from craving a Swedish meatball or planning a kitchen makeover to taking engagement photos, and even pretending to be on a dream vacation."
"No matter the reason, we're happy to provide an inspiring destination for our fans IRL and on the 'gram," they added.
As they took pictures at each display, Taylor also made sure to film clips that she could use on her Instagram stories to show off her "vacation."
"That way I could post on my Instagram story like a video of the room, as if I was actually there," she told her followers. "Just to make it seem a little more real."
Amodeo said she and Taylor picked very different displays so that the photos didn't look too similar to each other, despite being shot just minutes apart.
"Natalia's dress and makeup were a statement, so we knew that we had to try to diversify our shoot as much as possible." she told Insider.
"It went really smooth for all of the challenges we were facing! I was so excited when we did not get kicked out and were able to get all of the shots we wanted."
After wrapping up the shoot, Taylor and Amodeo began editing their photos. But they didn't want to wipe away all the Ikea evidence.
"We wanted to hide most of the tags in the background, while still leaving little Easter eggs here and there for people to catch on to us," Amodeo said.
In one of the first photos Taylor posted, the Ikea receipt can be seen in the mirror's reflection.
"To be honest, I'm surprised people are falling for this when clearly, if you look at the picture and you zoom in, the Ikea tag is there, plain as day," Taylor said in her video.
And in another picture, both an Ikea iPad and receipt are visible in the shot.
Taylor noted that if anyone had zoomed in on the receipt, they could have clearly read the word "Ikea."
Taylor also thought that the shots of her "outside," which were actually taken in front of drywall, would be extremely obvious to her followers.
"That looks nothing like a patio, I don't know who I'm kidding," she said as she posted the image on Instagram during her video. "I think you can tell these were not taken outside. Let's just hope that no one notices."
Taylor also uploaded Instagram stories to show her "journey" to Bali and make the trip look even more believable.
"The timeline needs to be that I'm getting ready to go on the plane, and then I'm on the plane, and I'm landing at the airport," she said. "I literally took pictures and videos from the internet for this, I looked up #Bali and found it and used it."
"Now, I know that's not right," she added. "But the point of this video is to show how easy it is to trick people into thinking you're someone you're not. So, for today's sake, we're doing it."
As Taylor began posting the photos, she noticed that both her followers and close friends immediately believed she was in Bali.
With the exception of one follower who questioned whether she had used Photoshop, no one called Taylor out for the Ikea photo shoot.
"Maybe it's just me, but it seems painfully obvious that I'm not in Bali," she said in her video. "I'm not even posting any of the iconic Bali photos of me on the beach, and I'm getting away with it. That's insane."
Amodeo told Insider that she was "really surprised" that all of Taylor's followers believed their photos.
"I thought more people were going to call us out," she said. "But it was exciting to know that we were able to successfully trick thousands of people into thinking she was on some tropical vacation, while we were only down the street from her place!"
Taylor believes no one questioned her photos because she has a "really good relationship" with her followers.
"I can't believe you guys trust me that much, I really love you," she said in the video. "I really appreciate you for not putting me into question — when maybe you should!"
"Because this could be happening all the time," she added. "I'm starting to question everything and everyone. Don't trust everything you see on the internet. Sometimes people want to lie about who they are as a person, and it's not hard to do apparently."
Amodeo agrees that people should be more weary about believing everything they see on Instagram.
"I think Natalia does a great job of being honest with her followers about the life she lives and stays true to herself on social media, but I do not at all think that most influencers do," she said.
"I know that influencers pretend to lead lives that are not realistic for them, and I think we can be naive to believe some of our favorite influencers at times. After all, it was pretty easy to trick thousands of people into thinking Natalia was on a tropical vacation."
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