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Mirror, mirror

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by Geren, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    What do you think a portrait of someone taken in a mirror actually communicates? I am doing some research for my latest project and was drawn to a couple of images in a body of work about parents that were both taken in little bathroom mirrors - the kind you might keep on a windowsill. These particular shots have rendered the faces blurry and the mirrors themselves sharp as if the objects were at least as important as the people who used them but it made me wonder if the use of the mirror as a device had any underlying meaning for people? In these shots, we only see the reflection but I've seen plenty of others (particlarly wedding photography but not just limited to that) where you see both the person and their reflection. I'm not asking if you LIKE such images, just wondering what if anything you think they might convey. I have my own thoughts and wondered if they coincided with anyone else?
  2. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

  3. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

  4. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I certainly like the images using the mirrors in your link - although I read something different into them. I saw them as portraying a loss of self-identity as a result of age - possibly resulting from conditions like dementia or Alzheimers.

    It's odd really because when you mentioned portraits taken in a mirror my first thought was of 'mirror selfies' and what they say about the person, what they're trying to portray and, ultimately, who the image is intended for.

    Ultimately I think that portraits taken in mirrors are interesting because they allow us to see the subject in the way that they usually see themself, rather than the way that other people usually see them...if you see what I mean.

    Cheers, Jeff
  5. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    Yes it leaves you to interpret a bit.
  6. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Thanks all. You have pretty much confirmed what I was thinking.

    Most people don't like photographs of themselves because they are not used to seeing that version of themselves. Once you have become accustomed to seeing your mirror image, your photographic image feels alien to you (the mere-exposure effect). Photographing someone in a mirror not only allows us to see how they see themselves, but it also allows them to feel more comfortable with their photograph.

    I also feel that the the mirror adds another layer of separation between the person and the image. Because photographs look 'real', it's easy for the brain to forget that we are looking at a piece of paper or a digital rendition on a screen. We show someone a photograph and say "Here, this is my baby/the neighbour's dog/York Minster...." when what we should say is "Here, this is a photograph of my baby" etc. Photographing someone's reflection instead of photographing them leaves you with an image that reinforces the fact that it's not them and that we are looking at a 'trick of the light'.

    There is also of course the fact that a mirror is an object used to look at ourselves. So perhaps if we are looking at a photograph of a mirror with a reflection in it, we are twice looking. Even more so if the person is also represented alongside their reflection. Putting someone under such intense scrutiny would seem to imply they have some significance. In the case of wedding photography, it's most often the bride that is shown reflected in a mirror. In the case of the images above, these are the photographer's parents and the 'stars' of this body of work so it seem appropriate to me that they first appear in this particular manner.

    As for the blurring of the faces, again, you were thinking along similar lines as me. I felt that it could refer to their own sense of slipping away from their percieved selves as age and illness take over, but also that it could be looked at from the point of view of the son. We tend to 'forget' that our parents aren't immortal and don't much think about their inevitable deaths. In making work that centres around the ill health of his mother and the way his father copes with it, Gray will have had to face the truth that at some point he was going to lose them. Perhaps the blurred faces are recognition of this, or maybe they represent loss - the vibrant role models that are slowly fading from him.

    I hadn't really considered 'mirror selfies' but actually they do need to be included in my research too. I see them as a means of exercising control. We live in an age with probably the most photographed teenagers ever - and most of those photographs are selfies. For the first time it is not only inordinately easy to photogrpah yourself but also to publish that image among your peers for approval. Self esteem in teenagers - links to my work quite strongly this time.

    Thank you all.
  7. RovingMike

    RovingMike Crucifixion's a doddle...

    I wonder if the mirror shots are real or composed? DoF might just be shallow enough for them to be real I guess.
  8. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    I think they might be real - unless he seriously has the patience to edit in the fuzzy picture and make all the surface dust and mirror imperfections sharp. I know I wouldn't!
  9. lfc1892

    lfc1892 Well-Known Member

  10. Lloyd

    Lloyd New Member

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