Working with mirrors is fun. By simply photo-
graphing a person with his or her reflection, you
can create an interesting, artistic, and creative im-
age, one that goes beyond a simple snapshot.
For the above photograph, which I took in Fort
Worth, Texas, I had the woman look into the mir-
ror and at a cowboy whom I had asked to pose
in the doorway. Looking at the picture, you may
wonder what the cowboy is doing in the door-
way. As such, even though the cowboy is small
in the scene, he plays an important role in telling
the story behind this picture. My point: the other
elements that are reflected in the mirror can add
interest to (or detract from) the message of your
One of the keys to this picture, and to all of the
remaining pictures in this lesson, is the lighting.
I bounced my on-camera flash off the ceiling to
light the woman softly and evenly. I turned off all
the other lights in the room and then opened all
the shades in the room behind the cowboy to cre-
ate his silhouette.
When you plan to work with mirrors, be prepared
for tricky and low lighting situations and condi-
tions. Be prepared with a flash and a reflector.
Also be prepared with a wide-angle zoom lens,
because you’ll most likely be working in close
quarters. Finally, if you shoot at a 45-degree angle,
you and your gear will not be in the frame.
Another important key to mirror photography is
to make sure you are not in the picture yourself.
That usually means photographing the subject’s
reflection in the mirror at a 45-degree angle. Be-
fore I took this picture in a hat shop in Panama, I
had the woman adjust the mirror so that her face
filled the mirror and so that I could not be seen.
Getting back to lighting for a moment, this was
a tricky shot to light. A large window to the girl’s
right illuminated the scene. That created a shad-
ow on the right side of the man’s face. To fill in the
shadow, I had a friend hold a reflector behind the
mirror to bounce light onto the man’s face to even
out the exposure.
Working with mirrors has another advantage: you
can see the front and back of a subject in the same
photograph. You may not get to Mongolia to take a
picture such as this one of a stage performer in his
dressing room, but you may have an opportunity
to photograph a bride, who would love to see her
smile and the back of her veil in a photograph.