Final Project – Being, Seeing

Artist Statement

Being, Seeing is a photographic series that places a person in solitude to explore the relationship between the state of naturalness derived from being alone and how one would react to seeing reflections of themselves. It is a documentation of both male and female subjects to study their candid responses while being confronted with multiple mirrors displaying reflections of themselves.

Subjects were given about a minute alone in a confined space where no one else was around or watching them and were allowed to move in the area. They were placed in front of the camera, but the photographs of them were taken while they were initially unaware that the camera was shooting.

In addition to photographing the moment people were being very real, this project also involves the issue of body image, through the fact that the subjects were compelled to look at themselves.

Mirrors are typically associated with vanity and self-analysis. Humans habitually check their appearances in reflective surfaces as we have a basic impulse to know what we look like. Perhaps the significance of the mirror has also changed along the way, morphing with society’s constantly fluctuating beauty standards. The pressure to look a certain way physically becomes palpable when one reaches the age of understanding societal expectations and popularised trends, and this may affect some people more than others.

Being, Seeing sought to capture the rawness of its subjects in their entirety, to photograph them while they were behaving as they would when isolated from everyone else, without a façade on, as well as when they were faced with the element of truly looking at themselves.

 FINAL presentation

Process + Reflections for Final Project


For my final project, I wanted to explore the space between a person being fully himself or herself while being awake and fully conscious. My previous midterm project To Be You was a photographic series of people sleeping, as at that point, I found that the only time we were able to be truly ourselves was when we were asleep, because we did not have the control over our thoughts and actions as we would when we were awake. I photographed my subjects in an intimate, close manner, as I wanted to present a sense of quiet peace while they were completely vulnerable and uncontrolled while in their temporary state of slumber.

However, in my final series, I wanted it to be much more active in a sense. I wanted my subjects to be awake and to be fully processing, while at the same time being who they really were, without a façade on. I found that the only way to do that was to seclude them from other people, so that they would not feel watched, or feel compelled to act a certain way. I needed them to feel at ease and able to act as they normally would when alone. This also meant that I could not be in the same vicinity as them, because then I would become a factor in the series, and they would not be completely alone. Therefore, I had to do this with a pre set up camera that would be ready to shoot when I was not physically around.

To do this, I borrowed a mirrorless Sony camera so that there wouldn’t be the shutter sound when firing, and the subjects would not know they were being photographed. I also constructed an enclosed space for my subjects, separating them from everyone else in the studio using boards and curtains so they would have a little corner to themselves.

I also wanted another element in the project, because I felt that it would have been too stagnant, and that it wasn’t interesting enough. At this point, I felt like incorporating the issue about body image in this society, because that has always been a subject that I am personally very interested in, as I feel like society has implemented a certain type of physical body that is constantly being held on a pedestal and popularized for both men and women to follow, and I think my generation has grown up being pressured into following this trend.

I wanted to see how my subjects would behave when confronted with themselves, so I placed mirrors all around them – on their left, right and in front of them. In a way, this documentary project was almost like a social experiment or a study to photograph the raw and organic way people would react.

Finally, after getting my subject to stand in place, I would excuse myself from the room, and let my subjects react freely to their reflections while unaware that I was photographing them.


I think this was the first project I truly felt for, one that I had to consider long and hard to achieve the final results. It required a lot of fine tuning and a considerable amount of thinking and planning to narrow down what I hoped to achieve out of it, and what factors and issues to include or photograph.

That being said, I am quite happy with the project because I feel I have tackled two issues that I am struggling with – feeling able to be myself and body image. It was very interesting to carry this out, because for my project, the process was very important. Essentially, without the process, the project wouldn’t have been able to work. What was especially fascinating for me was to try this out with more than 20 people, to see how they would react, and really watch their expressions and mannerisms.

I am usually comfortable working with people, but that is because my work process often includes speaking to my subjects prior to photographing, so I get to know my subjects a little more. This project was pretty new to me because I wanted to leave everything as natural as possible, so I didn’t get to have a solid conversation with my subjects before shooting, which was a fresh experience.

I’m not sure how and if I would like to continue this project, but I think if I were to continue this, I would like to continue photographing multiple subjects because I feel like as any study in regardless of the field it is for, should have a plethora of subjects to get various results. I might also photograph subjects over an age range. I stuck to people in their 20s for this project as I felt connected and that I wanted to examine people near the same age as I am, but I might want to cross check and see how this would hold different results and observe how body image might impact people from diverse generations.

Kindred Artists (For Final Project)


  1. Paul Strand

Born in New York City, 1890, Paul Strand was a photographer in the 20th century, who, with other renowned names like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, was famous for establishing and popularising photography as a form of art.

He was particularly known for his street photography, which was thought to be very honest and captured subjects in their natural states because he would go to extreme lengths to hide his camera from them. He would use fake lenses and prisms so that, for example, when his camera was pointed in the direction opposite to his subject, it would actually be capturing a photograph of the subject without them knowing.

Essentially, this allowed him to photograph people without posing them or alerting them with the presence of his camera, as they would not have their guard up or behave in a manner that would have been different from their usual routines. They would have been fully themselves in a public environment.

2. Neringa Rekasiute, We.Women (2014)

Rekasiute is a Lithuanian photographer who developed a photographic series based on women and body image. In her project, 12 women were photographed in the same setting, each with a full length mirror placed in front of them, where their reflection and their bodies are captured in the photographs. 

The project starts with a simple illustration, where the subjects are asked to draw how they see themselves in the mirror, allowing them to fully digest how they usually feel about themselves in their physical aspects. Following that, the photograph is taken, with each of the women having a different expression when looking at themselves. 

We.Women ultimately sought to question the definition of beauty it’s effects. It showed how women reacted to seeing themselves in the mirror with the stereotypical global standard of beauty engraved into them because of how the media has portrayed a certain type of body to be beautiful.