Ex 3.1 windows and mirrors

Go through your photographic archive and select around ten pictures. Separate them into two piles: one entitled ‘mirrors’ and the other entitled ‘windows’.

I quickly skimmed through my 2015 archive and selected a number of images for the exercise, without at first considering whether they are ‘windows’ into another world or ‘mirrors’ of my own world. For the purpose of part 3, we are asked to use our own perspective, as the photographer, in deciding whether to classify images as ‘windows’ or ‘mirrors’




I used an intuitive response to categorising the photographs and analysed my choices afterwards.

The ‘windows’ are all photographs outside of my own country and culture, so from that perspective they are easily categorised. However, one could also consider them as a mirror on my world, reflecting the places to which I have travelled and what things have caught my eye. The aware portraits could also be categorised as mirrors, with the subjects reflecting their view of me as a photographer.

The ‘mirrors’ are closer to my own identity: a street photograph in Leeds of two strangers obscured by a Union Flag umbrella – my nationality is mirrored as is a rainy day in Yorkshire, as part of my day-to-day life. The head portraits are of an old school friend and my son. Both reflect my life at different points in time, they have influenced who I am and I see them as mirrors.

It can be difficult categorising based on our perceptions of what we see; the world is highly interconnected and it is possible to hold different perceptions of the same thing. It is perhaps more a judgement of degrees of separation and taking a position based on a distance, rather than a general perception. It is also apparent that my rationale for the selections would not be clear to a viewer without context; even people I know would be unlikely to make the same categorisations on my behalf.

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