Lately, you have probably noticed a new trend on Instagram where people have been moving their mirror outside and taking an abundance of selfies in it with their parents’ garden in the back. At first, this looked really artistic, original and aesthetically pleasing. However, by the time I got my mirror off my door and outside, I had already seen enough girls taking mirror selfies on their lawn that the idea lost all originality and the “vibe” died. In an effort to rediscover that artistic vibe and revive my Instagram feed, which has suffered because I am literally going nowhere during this quarantine, I decided to experiment with creating original and artistic photo shoots within my own home and, to my best ability, by myself.
When thinking about why the outdoor mirror selfie gained so much popularity, I found a few key aspects that made it the ideal photo shoot during quarantine. First, it was something new. Second, it was easy to do and still created an artistic setting that is different from the standard straight-facing portrait or selfie. Third, because we are in quarantine and the only “photographers” that most people have access to is their family, it helped that it was a picture that anyone can do on their own. And lastly, it could be done within the safety and isolation of one’s own home during quarantine. With all this being said, here are a number of different photo shoots you can try that still maintain the easy, at-home and artistic appeal of the outdoor mirror selfie:
- Working With Shadows
Shadows can be used in a number of ways, especially when they are something that can be easily found in many different forms. You can even make your own shadows with light and something with unique openings like a colander or a paper with unique shapes cut out. It is best to place whatever you use outside of the camera’s frame so you can only see the shadow in the photo. In my case, I used natural shadows made by the beams over my porch. Use the shadows to compliment your body and your face in the way you want and experiment with fun angles. This can easily be made into either a fun or serious photoshoot.
- Using Mirrors
Mirrors are a classic and accessible way to manipulate a setting. In the outdoor mirror selfie, the mirror is used mostly so that the photographer could take the picture themselves. It also makes the picture look more original since a mirror does not typically belong outside. However, in my photoshoot, I used a mirror in a different way. First, I gathered all of the mirrors that I could find in my house. For me, the best mirrors were the ones with lighting. Next, I narrowed down the mirrors to fit the mood I wanted. In my photo, I used mirrors with white or silver frames in order to capture a darker and cleaner look. However, feel free to use all brightly framed mirrors if that is what you are moved to do. Then, I found an uncluttered and mute setting that fit the tone of my mirrors to assure that the reflections in the mirrors were not too busy or confusing. Then, I set them up in a disheveled and unnatural way where they all mirrored each other. Next, I turned on the lit mirrors, though you can substitute this with string lights around the mirrors, to light up my face and reflect in the other mirrors. Lastly, I set up my tripod out of sight of the mirrors, turned off the lights and placed myself where I could be well-lit and reflected. Admittedly, this was much more difficult than the other photoshoots since I could not see how I was reflected until the photo was taken but, after some work, I loved the result.
- Manipulating the Lens
By manipulating the lens with something small, you can greatly change the setting seen in the photo. One easy way to do this is with saran wrap (also called cling film or food plastic wrap). This household plastic is perfect for photos because it is transparent, easily shapeable and reflects light. One simple thing you can do is use the saran wrap as is and place it over the lens. This gives your photo a foggy look with unique reflections of light when you take the photo in the dark with flash. If your camera must focus before taking a photo, you may have to put on the saran wrap after starting the camera’s self-timer, like I did. Or, you can color the saran wrap. In my photo, I put strokes of nailpolish on my saran wrap. You can also use normal paint or even lipstick! I set the self-timer and carefully arranged the saran wrap loosely over the lense, being careful to crumple and bundle it in spots that I wanted to have more shine. Next, I turned off the lights and, in some photos, even used some extra saran wrap to stretch across myself and play with in my hands. Then, I let the flash go off.
- Using Patterns
In my opinion, this simple photo is one of the easiest but also one of the prettiest pictures I took. All you have to do is find something that is one solid color or pattern in your home. Instead of a wall, which is likely your first thought, try to look for curtains, blankets or rugs. These tended to be my more unique finds. In my photo, I used a drawn curtain. Because it was a curtain, I was able to pull it out with a natural source of light in the background. If you find a blanket or rug as a background, hang it up. Then, I dressed in something with a solid color that I matched with a red gloss to assure the attention was given to the pattern behind me. Next, I stood close to the front of my tripod and camera and let it shoot. Don’t be afraid to get close.
- Looking For Color
I love color and the saturation on my photos has no bound. Explore your house and look for spaces with a lot of color and clutter. Look in board game closets, messy garages, childhood bookcases, clothing racks, laundry rooms and pantries. Work with the space and move the camera so that the color and clutter frames the photo. For mine, I used my fridge. Feel free to do some rearranging and put the brightest items in the front, like the orange juice in my photo. Position yourself how you want. Think about the space and add some life to it with movement. If you interact with it, the better. Try to wear bright colored clothing to match the setting as well, which I did with my blue belt.
- Working With Shapes and Perspective
The space and shape which your camera sees through in order to capture the subject of the photo is not limited. Make your camera an eye with a unique perspective. Have the lens peek through a folded-over page in a book to take a studious photo of you, a crack in an opened cabinet to see you pulling out a box of cereal or a curtain that partially covers your face. In my photo, I found a crate and placed it over my head (yes, you read right) to take advantage of the unique squares and shapes that the crate had. Don’t be afraid if your face is a bit covered; it adds depth to the photo. Allow yourself to experiment with different shapes and perspectives that are outside of the standard.
I had a lot of fun with these shoots and I love the results. Do not be afraid to use your own judgment and personality to make these shoots work for you. The best parts of these photos is that they represent parts of myself and my personality. If you want to add color, take away color, add props or find new ways to make these photos more innovative, I invite you to do so! If you cannot find all of these resources in your house, substitute them and you might find something even better.