This symmetrical mirror wedding portrait by the exceptionally talented Scottish photographer, Raini Rowell, is nothing short of extraordinary. As soon as I saw it, I was immediately intrigued as to how it came about – I wanted to know more about the story.
When we think of the landscape of Scotland, our default is to imagine grey, moody skies but of course, it’s not like that all of the time. There are sunny days too but I’ve been there when it’s like that and vast open skies make photographing quite challenging. I feel that it looks a little fake, like Disney did Scotland. Luckily there are these wonderful buildings that may have once been castles and manor houses but they are now wedding venues.
This photograph is a testament to the art of symmetry and balance. In this frame, the bride and groom metamorphose into the lord and lady of the manor. Their reflections grace the mirrors, framed in a manner reminiscent of ancestral portraits. This artistic touch not only anchors them in their wedding venue but envelops them within it, as though they’ve always held a place in this historical setting.
What truly sets this image apart is its status as a standalone masterpiece, a “portfolio picture” that tells an entire story within its frame. No additional images are required to unravel the tale it weaves. It possesses a cleverness that never veers into pretentiousness and carries a subtle undercurrent of playfulness. Raini’s work here is a testament to her exceptional observational skills.
It transports us into a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, where the bride and groom are not just subjects but part of the furniture in this manor house.
What Raini said…
It was one of those unusually hot + eye-wateringly bright days in Scotland that can make outdoor portraits a bit uncomfortable and challenging to photograph in. Luckily the bride + groom were also keen to maximise their time with friends + family before dinner so we opted for indoor portraits in the grandeur of their venue. This suited them perfectly as they’d fallen in love with the interiors of Gosford House and all the beautiful details it has.
What To Look Out For in a Symmetrical Mirror Wedding Portrait
This particular spot is arguably one of the least grand parts of the building but I was drawn to the symmetry of the space and being one of the few places where we could control the window light with curtains for other portraits. It was also a quiet part of the building where I hoped the couple would find a bit of space to connect + decompress without being overlooked by guests.
I don’t often get the chance to shoot in manor houses so I really love playing with the architecture and design choices when I do. The two mirrors begged to be used and I think I squeaked a little when I realised it would work in camera (my second, Kirsty McElroy can confirm this)! I liked the idea that it might be confused with two paintings hanging up – especially with the slightly stiff posing you typically see in Victorian-era portraits + buildings.
The Tech Talk
The big challenge with this photo was just how bright the window light was. Trying to balance focussing on the darkest part of the room against the adjacent bright window light meant the whites ended up blown out. Post-processing couldn’t recover the detail very well. In hindsight, if I had more time, I could have used a ND filter to better balance the scene but it’s not the end of the world! In a way, maybe the lack of window view detail helps draw the viewer’s focus to the mirrors.