I've lived in a variety of small apartments and rooms throughout my life. Though they often served as artistic obstacles, they provided me with an appreciation for details. Thanks to them, I was able to find potential in everyday objects such as intricate shadows cast by lace curtains, hands, and even steam. Limitations strengthened my patience, compelled me to try out new things, and showed me the incredible use of mirrors.
In addition to finding beauty in seemingly insignificant items, I discovered the sheer amount of space that mirrors of all shapes and sizes created. In one of my old apartments, a tremendous wardrobe disguised as a mirror took up most of the corridor. Despite its size, it added more space to the entire apartment, filling it with an illusion of physical freedom. Its ability to make a very small corridor appear more spacious was something I took for granted for a long time. Fortunately, this ignorance found its way out of my life.
During a busy indoor shoot one evening, the way I viewed mirrors drastically shifted. Yearning for extra room and more ideas, I randomly placed my camera and tripod in front of the mirror, which led to the realization that mirror photos could be taken in ways that fit my personal style. This experience highlighted the importance of paying attention to every single thing, no matter how “normal” it seemed. Because of precious details like this, I'm encouraged to reassess the things I take for granted on a daily basis.
After this discovery, I began to find a lot of pleasure in taking photos indoors. (As someone who takes self-portraits with a 50mm 1.8 lens, I need as much space as possible.) Mirrors of all types both satisfied and challenged me. Large mirrors gave me the opportunity to fit everything into one composition, and smaller mirrors became my creativity-enhancing tools. As a result, my inspiration flourished, pushing me to try out new challenges and confront the fears I so often succumbed to.
You might (understandably) associate mirrors with casual selfies. Don't let that stop you from using these valuable objects in your creative work, especially if you often have to take photos in cluttered rooms. It's possible to not even give away the fact that you used a mirror to take certain photos. Here are a few tips on how you can make your indoor portraits look like they were taken in a spacious room.
How to Make the Most of Distortions
It's important to consider mirror distortion before you start experimenting with reflections. The closer you and your subject get to the reflective surface, the softer the results will be. This will inevitably work to your advantage if you like to take dreamy-looking photographs. If sharper results are what you aim for, keep this obstacle in mind. Regardless of your interests, do try taking slightly distorted closeups. Experimenting might lead you to the most wonderful ideas. 🙂
Taissia is a professional photographer and educator.