What do you see when you look in the mirror? When you examine your face, what are you looking at? Why are you examining? This act of looking at yourself is one of the most intimate and, in a sense, sacred acts because it is you trying to perfect yourself. To tackle this idea and more, photographer Juan Luis Garcia set out to start taking “mirror portraits” for a project called FACE VALUE.
“I have an obsession with faces,” he says on his website’s statement. “Ever since I picked up a camera in 2004 I’ve had the urge to portray people through my photography. So, about four years ago I thought of this idea to photograph people looking at themselves through a two-way mirror. I wanted to do something unique and provide the subject with a special experience. The problem was I didn’t have the maturity and experience to really do it right. Asking someone for their portrait isn’t something I take lightly.”
Through some experimentation, he developed a way to be able to shoot people in the fashion that he wanted. Using a very mobile setup of two lights, a white screen, and camera outfitted with a two way mirror, he is trying to take as many portraits of people as possible. Beyond the intimacy of capturing a person who is looking at him/herself, it gets at something deeper. As Juan asks on his site, “What do people see when they look in to their eyes?” I would venture to say that most people don’t ever look into their own eyes which is why the project is so magical in a sense because it brings about this connection with yourself because you are forced to look at you for some time.
Juan’s goal is to take five hundred photos to use for a book and gallery show. So far, he has about 150-ish portraits taken and is still taking submissions for more. I definitely submitted myself (and Dottie and Scooter) and am intrigued to see if anything comes of it. You can sign up here and, for more on the project, check out the website, where you may find a few familiar faces in the lineup. Also, he’s looking for a few very specific looks: if you know any twins, burn victims, adult film stars, cancer survivors, Conan O’Brien, an airline pilot, and lots more, send them Juan’s way as he would love to photograph them.