How Do You Photograph Mom? We Asked, You Answered. (Part 1)

How Do You Photograph Mom? We Asked, You Answered. (Part 1)

Everyone has their own unique story with Mom. And this year, with so many of us physically apart, Mother’s Day 2020 now has a unique story all its own. 

Last week, we asked you to share your favorite photos of moms, and your response was an outpouring of love. You shared incredible chance encounters in the wild, heart-wrenching memories about the past, and touching stories telling us why these photographs capture her spirit and spunk. 

Below, we’re sharing some of our favorites, though we know these only scratch the surface. If you have more to add, please share them with us by tagging @photoshelter on Instagram or Twitter. From everyone here at PhotoShelter, we want to wish a very happy Mother’s Day to all. 

Cover image by Carmen Dunham.

Reed Galin

It was a good day- a terrific day… at Dollywood theme park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But it was a long day. And the drive home to Nashville almost three hours away was that much longer. Still, she never lost a mother’s glow. 

Carmen Dunham

These mamas are the light that shines on their babies’ faces. They continue to teach what love is, even in the most uncertain times. They are the reminders of why I got into family photography in the first place and having this front-row seat to these real moments is an absolute honor and is a gift, in itself, for me.

Saul Robbins

Zac Mills

A happy new mother, Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia, 2018

Keith Brofsky

I made these photographs while back home from college the summer of 1979. This era became the phase of her life most seared into my heart. I was 21 years old and beginning to cherish her more while becoming an adult. I’m now 61 and the hindsight is poignant.

Matthew Meier

Here is a pair of pregnant tiger sharks in the Bahamas. These 13 foot apex predators come to these shallow waters to help with their gestation before going off to give birth in a yet to be determined location. The pups are live born as fully functional tiger sharks, albeit much smaller, and the mother can be carrying upwards of 70 baby sharks. The larger the mother, the more babies she can typically carry to term. Though that direct correlation has yet to be proven, as no one has of yet witnessed a tiger shark giving birth.

Lola Akinmade

An indigenous Sami mother in Jokkmokk, Sweden, grooms her son at the 410+ year old Jokkmokk Sami Market held every year.

Wayne Simpson

My Mother and I have never been as close as I would have liked, as I was sent to live with my father at the age of 7. After 44 years I finally had the courage to ask my mom about her past and why she gave me up to my dad. I learned of a dark and painful past and gained a new respect for my mom and all that she has endured as well as her reasons for giving me up. She opened up to me over a conversation that lasted over an hour. She finally agreed to allow me to photograph her in a way that communicated the difficult life she has had.

Theresa Dimenno

She was quite a character. Over 20 years ago, I created a series about her called, The Twenty Years Since Daddy Left. My mother, Rae, collaborated with me on this project by writing the captions for each photo.

Ronnie Farley

Rita Farley, Flavorland, Colonie shopping mall, New York, 2003

K.M. Asad

Myanmar Rohingya refugee woman holds her son seen after arriving on a boat to Bangladesh on Shah Porir Dip Island at Cox’s Bazar 14 September 2017.

Tony Wu

Mothers of all species teach their children important life skills. Pictured here is an adult female humpback whale showing her young daughter how to execute a graceful swooping maneuver, flowing pectoral fins and all.

Nicola Longobardi

Art Wolfe

When you visit a location as often I have, you begin to recognize the ‘locals’, and I have a history with this bear. She’s a young female I’ve photographed in years past, catching fish like none other. This year she had two cubs demanding her attention and was still the best. As the male bears splashed and thrashed at fish, she was like an efficient machine; feeding her cubs was her prime objective. I knew exactly what she would do and focused on her.

David Levenson

My Mum Ivy, passed away in 2017 at the great age of 97. This is how I would like to remember her, in probably the happiest time of her life, as a girl in her 20’s in WW2. Her 15 minutes of fame came when her photo appeared in the London Evening News in April 1945. As one of the few ATS ( British Women’s Army) attached to American Allied Airborne HQ in England , Private Ivy Percival was picked by the photographer with two of her friends, to pose for a picture. As photographers do, he picked the three prettiest, and cropped out the ungainly Corporal he was told to put on the end.

Fast forward to 1980, and I was a young photographer with Keystone Press Agency in London, sent with an old photographer, in his 70’s, called Jimmy Wilds, to learn the ropes at the Windsor Horse Show. Jimmy was a miserable old sod, known as the rudest man in Fleet Street, and not impressed with being told to babysit me…. A couple of years after this, I found the original old print Mum had been given by the photographer…on the back, was the byline – photo by Jimmy Wilds/Keystone. 

Clark Mishler

Kaity Reiley, her 7-month-old daughter Beatrice and her dog, Jack, at the bottom of 9th Avenue, Anchorage.
Eighteen-month-old Alana walks with her mother in Sitka National Historic Park, Sitka, Alaska.

Steven Freeman

Alex Levy, a former division 1 athlete, is just as driven and passionate at being a wonderful mom, as she was competing. Her love of fitness and sports is something shared with her children Lyyli and Wynn, a spirit that comes across even in a simple backyard race. I’ve photographed the children since before they were born. It’s been a special experience documenting their growth as they evolve into young adults and athletes like their mom. Little did I know, that a small personal portrait project that began 15 years ago would continue on.

Zay Yar Lin

I took this while on a garbage fire project. I stumbled across this scene and felt so sad. First, I was thinking this female dog was doing normal breastfeeding for her little babies. But when I looked more carefully, I realized she was already dead.

This photo was taken accidentally but it shows the powerful love of a mother, and consequently, the moment of a cruel change for the future of the young pups. I believe no other kind of love can be compared to the unconditional love of a mother for her children or babies. It is a truly beautiful gift for everyone in the world.

Check out Part 2 here.

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