I'm trying to get the best self-portrait possible, and the problem I'm running into is that to see the portait as you are shooting it (assuming a tethered DSLR setup or equivalent), you need to avert your eyes from the camera to look at the screen, which alters the look of the eyes, making it impossible to see your own facial expression.

So I'm thinking about placing a one-way mirror halfway between the camera and myself, and shooting with a remote control.

This way, the reflection in the mirror will approximately be the same image seen by the camera and the eyes will be looking at the virtual image of the eyes, which will be in the same position of the camera, thus effectively looking at the camera. Meanwhile, the camera will be able to shoot through the mirror just fine, except for reduced incoming light.

To make the one-way mirror work, the mirror and the camera would need to be enclosed in some kind of box-like structure blocking light and thus creating a dark chamber containing the camera and with the mirror as a window.

And here's the question: has anyone tried anything like this? Does it actually work? Any suggestions on the simplest/cheapest way to build this?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there something about capturing an image while you're tethered and then looking to see if you got it right that won't work for you? \$\endgroup\$
    – Blrfl
    Sep 25, 2017 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


I feel I ought to throw one in here from out left-field... it's an answer, but not an answer to the question you actually asked.

The issue isn't 'not being able to see your expression', your issue is not being confident enough in the appearance of your own face.
Let me put this in perspective, using my dual/triple backgrounds as musician, actor & lastly, photographer.

40 years ago, the first time I ever heard my own voice on playback after recording my first ever studio vocal, I couldn't believe that was actually me singing. It sounded so completely alien.

35 years ago when I first saw myself on television, I had a similar reaction. I was making expressions I had never ever seen my face make... ever.

After all these years, I'm now perfectly comfortable with what my voice sounds like on tape... & I'm getting used to the expressions I make when I'm looking in a camera rather than a mirror.
But, to this day, I think I look like what I see in the mirror... yet everybody else who has ever seen me thinks those 'weird' expressions are a constant part of me.

I may eventually get used to it...

In the meantime, I've learned to live with it.

So... pucker up & click.
Forget trying to look like yourself in the mirror - no-one else has that view of you.

Free your face. Let it go. Play to the camera, not the monitor. Take 200 pics without looking at the results.

So long as you were shooting wide enough to allow yourself some movement, which you can crop down later, then you're going to have a wealth of material to pick through.
Some you'll like, some you won't.
That's life.

That's what every photographic model or actor has to do. They never get to choose what their face is doing right this second... but they've learned how to use what it does do to their advantage.


A semi-silvered mirror with the camera behind it is one design feature of many brands of photo booths. I am talking about booths at malls and public common areas that accept money in exchange for a picture-taking session.

In other words, a one-way mirror is SOP (standard operating procedure) for photo booths.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, looking for a practical way to have a setup like that at home (with a DSLR and a "booth" deep enough to have the mirror at the halfway position with a good angle for a normal perspective, which should be around a 50-150cm deep "booth"). \$\endgroup\$
    – tudent
    Sep 22, 2017 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Object in a mirror appear as if they are behind the mirror. However, the camera does not necessarily need to be any further than directly behind the mirror. Also, best is a lens that is 2X thru 2.5X the corner to corner (diagonal) of the imaging chip. Thus for a compact digital APS-C format 16mm by 25mm chip, the diagonal is about 30mm. That makes the ideal focal length 55mm thru 80mm. This will deliver ideal distortion free portraits. This is true because you will be forced to back the camera up and this is the secret to obtain correct perspective. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 22, 2017 at 18:16

Shooting from behind a partially silvered mirror is similar to using a neutral density filter. Quite a bit of the light is absorbed by the reflecting surface. One way mirrors are also rather expensive.

Instead, Try this inexpensive work-around to get a similar effect. Use any inexpensive mirror — scrape-off enough of the orange-coloured varnished backing to make a clear window for your camera lens to shoot through. A razor blade at a steep angle will work, and a tiny bit of nail-polish remover to clean-up the residue "stuff."

You'll see enough of your reflection to get a great selfie.

Get a vanity mirror on a stand which you can disassemble to remove the magnifying side. The round flat side is big enough to accommodate your camera lens and still have enough to use to pose.

Another much easier effective idea is to put your camera directly in front of a mirror (or your screen) and look past the camera at your expression. The very slight parallax between the camera and your expression will be impossible to see unless you are very close to the camera lens.


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