The uplift of anchor plates is of anchor-soil interaction process. The investigation into soil deformation and failure mechanism around the anchor plate is important for uplift capacity prediction. In this paper, a series of anchor plate uplift tests based on particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique have been carried out. The deformation fields and failure modes of soil around anchor plates have been obtained under different soil densities and embedment depths of anchor plates. The results of PIV displacement fields show that for shallow anchor plates, the failure modes of the loose and the dense sand foundation are characterized by frictional cylinder and truncated cone, respectively. When the anchor plate is deeply embedded, a bulb-shaped influence zone formed above the inner anchor plate in the loose sand foundation, and the dense sand foundation develops curved failure surface. The results of PIV strain fields show that whatever the embedment depth of anchor plates, the failure plane in loose sand foundation is inclined at an angle 45°+φ/2 with respect to the horizontal, and the angle between the failure plane and the vertical plane in dense sand foundation is approximately φ/4. The conclusions provide references for developing prediction models of anchor uplift behavior.