I have been asked by a client to take some product photographs of some vintage mirrors that they would like to sell and I am struggling with getting good clear shots of the mirrors. As such, what is the best way to approach photographing them such the mirror does not appear to be washed out or contain any unwanted reflections?

10 Answers 10


As Rob said, a tilt-shift lens is ideal.

I talked to a product photographer who specifically mentioned it's use. Basically, you position the camera on a tripod just to the left or right of the mirror so it's out of the reflection. With a normal lens it will be obvious that it's taken at an angle but by using the shift function of the lens you're able to correct the perspective distortion (just like an architectural photographer) so it looks as if the photo was taken head-on.

This article has an example shot: http://www.popphoto.com/how-to/2011/05/complete-guide-to-tiltshift-photography?page=0,3

  • 4
    Or if you're not a professional product photographer you can use a regular lens and just crop the photo, it's a heck of a lot cheaper than buying a tilt-shift lens!
    – Matt Grum
    Oct 13, 2011 at 9:51
  • 4
    And even without an actual tilt-shift lens, a similar perspective correction can often be performed with tools like Lightroom when the photo was taken with a standard lens.
    – Icycle
    Feb 1, 2014 at 3:04
  • To use a regular lens plus crop to mimic the effect of a tilt/shift lens you need to place the product as close to one edge of the field of view as possible so that after you crop the center of your image is well of the optical axis of the lens.
    – Michael C
    May 5, 2014 at 0:24

Mirrors reflect, there's nothing you can do about that (except spray the mirror with something but clients are unlikely to go for that).

All you can do is position the mirror and camera so that what's reflected is as unobjectionable as possible. A good idea would probably be to position the mirror to reflect a plain wall or ceiling. If you get further away and use a long focal length lens, the area reflected by the mirror will be much smaller which will make it easier to ensure there's no clutter (this also makes it easier to ensure your camera isn't reflected, whilst still viewing the mirror nearly straight on).

Remember that you will probably need two lights, one to light the frame, and one to light the area reflected by the mirror.

  • 5
    Another advantage of getting far is that the reflected wall can get more out-of-focus, thus reducing the distraction.
    – ysap
    Jul 25, 2011 at 12:58
  • If the mirror reflects nothing but a smooth white surface, then the mirror itself will look like a smooth white surface itself, and it will not look much like a mirror. In the world of computer-generated imagery, the problem of what should be reflected by a mirror-like surface in order to create the illusion that it is mirror-like is called "environment mapping," or "reflection mapping." You want to reflect something that (a) "is as unobjectionable as possible," but which (b) creates an illusion of depth. Jun 8, 2021 at 21:24

If the job has the budget for it, you could rent a shift-tilt lens. That would allow you to at least get the camera itself out of the reflection.


Take a look at the catalog pictures of any major store like target.com or walmart.com. The seem to have covered the reflective area with paper ( gradient might have been added in post processing). After covering the reflective area, you can just shoot it as you would any other product.

You can also do some green screening by covering the reflective area with some bright colored/fluorescent paper and then put whatever picture you find aesthetically pleasing during post processing.

  • I'd avoid the type of picture that would give the appearance of a framed picture rather than a framed mirror.
    – Stan
    Oct 19, 2018 at 21:15

Several answers have recommended a tilt-shift lens. If you don't happen to have access to one, note that you can get a very similar effect by correcting the perspective digitally.

Panorama stitching programs like hugin are very handy for this, as long as the picture includes suitable guide lines (see e.g. this tutorial). If not, you could always add some artificial ones around the edges of the scene and crop them out of the finished picture.


Read Light: Science and Magic, specifically the sections on "family of angles". Basically, you need to place the lights at an angle so they don't reflect into the camera. The book gives various techniques for managing reflections.


A tilt shift lens is nice but, well, photographing a mirror warrants also documenting how well it actually reflects things. You could consider either photographing it as part of a scene (namely accept the perspective distortion) or allow the camera to appear in the reflection as an example image. Of course, either implies using a narrow aperture since you need to have both the mirror frame as well as the mirror image appear reasonably sharp to make a good impression.

Here is what I recently used, of course using the self-timer: Mirror image picturing the cam

The alternative moving the cam out of the picture (and of course not using a tilt-shift lens) Mirror shift without cam The tiled floor helps with recognizing the perspective but I still like this worse. That is the reason I did not bother wiping the mirror again after the cat walked over it. If this had been a serious contender, one would have had to reapply the window cleaner again, of course, and retake the picture.


I shoot mirrors all the time. I use two stands on either side of me "camera" hang black fabric on the stands. Shoot the pic and you will have a black image in the mirror. All you have to do is clean up a spot in center, or add a gradient over the black.


Retouch the subject whenever possible to reduce set-up, studio, and retouching in post-production.

Removable dulling spray is as innocuous as glass cleaner. Apply as and where needed and remove before returning to the subject's owner/supplier a CLEAN, soft, absorbent cloth duster.

The viewer "understands" the light matte "glow" finish as "reflective" and the spray does not detract from the form of metallic finish filigree or scrollwork.

Where you want the sharp lines that indicate a mirror-finish, carefully mask or avoid spraying those areas—The mirror frame, for example.


place a softbox and turn on the lights facing the mirror set the camera to the side so that when you look through the camera lens the angle should be that the mirror should reflect the white light of the softbox that way you'll get a bright white in the center of the mirror :)

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