The Two-Sided Mirror

The Invisible Photographer


In July, my wife Merla and I went spent a week at a bed and breakfast: a 19th-century two-story home overlooking a harbor in Maine. Wonderful to get out of the Florida heat. Even better to get away from the cell phone. As a home infusion nurse working 50 hours a week, my phone never stops. It wreaks havoc upon one’s time of focus and meditation. I long for retirement in the near future.

I was about to brush my teeth in the two-sided mirror attached to the bathroom wall when I saw this backward reflected image: the bright lamp, Merla’s face, the old colonial furniture, the geometric shapes of the walls and ceilings. All of it framed by the out-of-focus bathroom door frame at my back. I grabbed the Leica and shot. It was a rare moment – she never knew I took the photo. This image became a sweet memory of the peace we had reading in that room each evening. Photos expand the storage capacity of our brains. A single photo of a single moment – for better or worse – opens a multitude of memories.

What a contrast when I flipped the mirror over and made a self portrait using the close-up, concave side of the mirror. With facial features enlarged, the image depicts an intense, almost frightening, voyeuristic-like eyeball preying upon its victim. Photographing people can be both an aggressive and intrusive action.

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