Mirror mirror on the wall, how to get the best shot of them all?
How do we take a photo of a mirror without ourselves being present in the picture? And, on that note, how does selfie photography even work? (And why do I have 300 chins whenever I take a bathroom selfie? I swear in real life; I only have one!) The easiest option, get bitten by a 500-year-old vampire and transform yourself into an undead beauty.
Is that option not proving fruitful?
Well, there are several interesting techniques you can use to make a photo of a mirror without yourself in the frame, some more expensive than others, of course.
Taking Pictures of Mirrors without a Reflection:
First off, what are your goals for taking these photos? Are you shooting to show other photographers an artistic edge? Or perhaps your point is to remove reflections from mirrors you’re trying to sell? (because your house is a nightmare, and no one on Craig’s list wants to see that.)
Understanding the purpose of the image you’re making is a vital first step towards knowing which of the effects below will work best for you. Once you know the focus of your photography, you can go about setting the scene so that you can achieve the perfect shot.
The Tilt-Shift Lens:
A tilt-shift lens is a pretty incredible piece of camera equipment. It is the single most effective way to take a mirror photo without the person taking the photo being present in the final image. A tilt-shift lens could be the single answer that you need.
These lenses are popular with architectural, product, portrait, and nature photographers. But it’ll take even the most inexperienced camera person and level them up to all the best professional photographers.
These incredible lenses allow you to focus on a subject that is not directly in front of your camera lens because of their nifty capacity to angle themselves to assist with shooting the scene. You do not need to worry about shifting shutter speed or aperture specifically for the lens, either. You need to set them up and start shooting the image. The tilt-shift lens even introduces vignetting if you correctly focus it.
Another significant advantage is that nothing needs to be edited post-process, and the images you take are the images you will receive.
The Vampire Effect
The brilliance of the tilt-shift lens comes into its own with the Vampire Effect.
Having a tripod and a good light source is vital for this effect.
Start by setting your camera up on its tripod, directly in front of the mirror you intend to shoot. Now that you’ve set up your camera, move it parallel to the mirror but off to the side so that you are no longer visible. You can now angle your lens so that it appears that the image was taken straight-on.
You can also achieve this effect by lowering your tripod below the mirror and then shifting the tilt-shift lens upwards. In order to remove yourself from the photos, though, you’ll need to set up a self-timer and stand out of the way while you take a picture of the mirror.
A less expensive solution for the Vampire Effect is to position your mirror towards a blank wall or ceiling, stand far away from it so that you are out of the reflection, and then make your shot using a very long focal length. The image will not appear head-on, but it will cover your basic need without the expensive lenses.
The Spray-on Effect:
Not sure you want any reflections at all in your mirror when you take a picture of it?
Many a product shoot makes use of removable dulling sprays on glass and mirrors to give the illusion of reflection and shine without having to deal with the hassle of reflected light from the camera’s flash.
These dulling sprays cover the entire mirror in a silvery substance that allows no reflection. And now, shoot at will! You can stand straight in front of the mirror with no issue. And, if you decide you’d like to put a “reflection” into the picture post-shoot, you can do so with software like Lightroom.
The Post-Processing Effect:
Ah yes, the magic of editing! With the invention of editing software like Lightroom and Photoshop, photography has made the photographer master more than just the camera.
We now have photographers showing us a picture of what they saw and a picture of what they want us to see.
Using this technology to take a mirror photo is pretty straightforward once you know how to use the software. First off, you will place some kind of green screen material over the mirror itself, cut perfectly to the size of the frame.
Once in place, take your photos from whichever angle you think is best, using lighting and other tricks to heighten the quality of your shot.
Now that you’ve got your shot, you can play around a bit. You can create a very light reflection in the software or go big and put in some laser-shooting dinosaurs. The limits really are your imagination at this point.
Taking Pictures of Mirrors with a Deliberate Reflection:
Sometimes though, you should show how well your mirror reflects the world around it.
Besides proving that your mirror is what you say it is, taking photos of a mirror with yourself or a subject included in it can create wonderfully creative and artistic pieces.
The Still-Life Effect:
For the Still-Life effect, you will need to employ either the Tilt-Shift or the Vampire effect, as discussed above.
The significant difference here is that you will not present a blank space for your mirror to reflect off of. Instead, your mirror frame is going to house an interesting image (like a beautiful vase of flowers) that your mirror will reflect. These reflections will prove that your mirror is as you say it is and not just a piece of glass.
And while you can create the same image in photoshop, getting this technique right saves you post-production time and is better to truly capture a moment in time, complete with correct lighting and a solid connection to the photographer.
Your camera can also become the subject of your mirror photo. Position the angle of your picture so that you have your camera showing, either on a tripod or with you standing behind you. Now, shoot directly into the actual mirror. You will now have a mirror image of yourself, or your camera, imprinted into the glass of the mirror.
Following on from the Still-Life effect, another method that has gained immeasurable popularity in the past decade is the mirror selfie!
But, long before iPhones and Instagram filters, mirror selfies were some of the most inspired and mysterious shots a professional photographer took.
Nowadays, a mirror selfie is within the realm of most people, and there are several different tricks you can use to post the perfect selfie without using a fancy camera or high-tech lighting.
Taking a Mirror Selfie:
If you’re looking good and feeling good in yourself and your body, why not share it with everyone around you? Creating the perfect mirror selfie post for your social media can be daunting at first.
However, the answer is in the correct pose, lighting, camera, and confidence. Master these, and your selfie game will be the envy and admiration of all of your friends!
Set Your Selfie Scene:
Before you go about taking your incredible selfies, answer questions in your head about what kind of selfie you want to take. Go onto social media and look at other selfies to learn the signs of a good selfie. Once these questions are answered, you can go about setting your scene.
Find a mirror that suits your purpose. If it’s full-length selfies you’re after, find a full-length mirror. If you want the perfect headshot, it’ll be better to find a smaller mirror, perhaps with an attractive frame. Oh, and make sure it’s clean before you take your picture.
Next, organize your space in a way that appeals to the essence of the photo you are trying to take. If you want it casual, let your backdrop be a little messy. If you’re after a classy feel, though, a neat background is a sign of that. Take advantage of the impact of negative space on your selfies.
Finally, take a good hard look at the lighting you are using. Using natural lighting will always have the best effects, so close to an excellent natural light source will always be best if your photographs are taken in the daytime. Be careful though of backlighting yourself, as this will turn your incredible selfie into a stunning silhouette.
If not, there is lighting available. Try to pick artificial lighting that is soft and warm. Avoid harsh white and fluorescent lighting at all costs.
Pick your Pose and Take your Picture
Now it’s time to get playful! You’re taking your own photo, after all, so why not play around with your camera and get to know your angles? Stand up, sit down, put one foot in front of the other, put your hand on your hip. It’s all up to you! You can find interesting videos and articles about striking the best poses in front of the camera; learn them all!
This is also your moment to get playful with your camera positions. Covering your face with your camera will give your selfie a sense of mystery, and putting it entirely out of frame makes for a unique, off-center photo.
You can also experiment with your camera’s self-timer function, giving your hands some freedom to do whatever, hold up a sign, double peace-hands, whatever!
Mirror mirror on the wall, now you have the best picture of them all!