If you want a quick and easy way to take interesting portraits, mirror photography is for you.
All you need is a mirror (or several mirrors, if you’re feeling extra creative), a patient model, and a few tips.
1. Mirror Photography: Use Artificial Light to Enhance Your Model’s Features
One of the best things about mirror photography is that it offers unlimited possibilities. As long as you have access to a mirror, you can take photos wherever and whenever you want.
If you want to stay in, experiment with different outfits, and take great photos with a limited amount of light, you can easily do so. You just need to work with artificial light and DSLR camera settings that are usually not needed during the warmer months.
Artificial light can enhance your subject’s features. As you take photos, make sure you manually change your photos’ color temperature and ISO.
Color temperature will let you fix unflattering tones and ISO will help you take sharp photos in locations with limited light.
2. Use Manual Focus for the Sharpest Results
Depending on the concept of your shoot, you might have to deal with a lot of busy foregrounds and backgrounds in your compositions.
Because of this, autofocus might capture the wrong subject or not be able to focus at all. Especially if you’re working with a small f-number like f/1.2. You can avoid this by switching to manual focus.
Manual focus will let you capture exactly what you want. If you don’t use it regularly, it will feel very awkward at first. Don’t let this bother you!
It’s also likely that the mirror you use will create distortions on your model’s face. These will be noticeable only when you zoom into your photo, so they shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Create Space in Small Rooms by Using Large Mirrors
Small spaces like elevators have mirrors to give the illusion of more space. You can use this trick to your advantage when you shoot in small rooms.
If you live in a small apartment, you can use a large mirror to take mirror images of your subject from a distance. This is especially handy if you use a zoom lens, which typically isn’t practical to use indoors.
You can also use large mirrors to create more space between yourself and your model. This will make them feel more comfortable and give them room to pose without worrying about bumping into your camera.
4. Shoot Through Multiple Mirrors to Create a Surreal Effect
Surreal photography is all about otherworldly concepts and stories inspired by fairytales. Some surrealist photographers, like Rosie Hardy, use their photo editing skills to create unusual photos.
Others, like John Dykstra, use props and their imagination to create unedited masterpieces.
You don’t always need incredible editing skills or props to create surreal photos, though. With use of mirrors (at least two), you can focus on different angles of your model’s face and reflect objects that wouldn’t be visible in a photo with one mirror.
Here, you can also different reflective surfaces for better images.
5. Take Photos of Yourself and Your Model at the Same Time
Portrait photography tends to focus on those standing in front of the camera. Anyone behind it should be invisible. Mirror photography is an exception to this rule, as you can take photos of both yourself and your model in the mirror.
You can use this technique to add depth to your creative self-portraits. It can also be used to create more space in a photo or to fill in empty areas in your composition.
Make sure you use this technique sparingly, though. The more you use it, the more unoriginal your concepts will be.
Try creative these self-reflection portraits with broken mirrors for some added creativity.
6. Take Your Mirror Outdoors
There are lots of exciting outdoor locations that you can enhance with the help of a mirror. You can use it to cover parts of your model’s body, reflect a beautiful location, or even use it to improve your landscape photography skills.
I recommend using a small mirror outdoors. Carrying a large mirror is impractical. And it will make your photo shoot significantly more inconvenient than a normal one with smaller props.
7. Recreate Fun Road Trip Photos in a Car
You don’t need to go on an epic road trip to take exciting travel photos. If you have a car, you can recreate travel photos by simply having your model sit in it. No driving necessary!
Use a side mirror or rear view mirror to focus on your model. Make sure the background (preferably an eye-catching location) is visible, too.
This will give dimension to your photo and create a sense of adventure.
8. Take Atmospheric Self-Portraits
Mirror selfies have become so popular that they’re no longer interesting, but this doesn’t mean you can’t use them to create original self-portraits.
Instead of focusing solely on yourself, try to create an atmosphere using objects next to your mirror. The photographer in the image above used her bedroom to create a cozy and pleasant feel.
While most of the objects in her photo aren’t sharp, they still complement her pose and reflect her personality (no pun intended).
9. Use a Small Mirror to Create Abstract Portraits
Abstract portraits are unconventional and striking. They can be used to create photos that resemble paintings or simply highlight one part of your model’s face, like the eye in the photo above.
You can use a handheld mirror or a prism to experiment with this effect. A prism might make reflections appear more distorted. You’ll also have to focus very carefully to get sharp results.
A handheld mirror will reflect more of your subject’s face and make it easier for you to focus on them.
Since both of these mirrors are affordable and accessible, I recommend experimenting with both.
Conclusion: Mirror Photography
Mirror photography will help you appreciate unusual perspectives, try out new photography styles, and add more depth to your photos.
Even the simplest mirror can help you take your portraits to the next level.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a mirror and start shooting!