From hidden women to influencers and individuals – putting mothers in the frame

As Mother’s Day approaches, there are many images of her.

We are two mothers who also happen to be photographers. We think critically about how photography tends to define the image of the “Mother overly.”

Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother is a classic example. It was taken during the Depression era in America. Her two children are leaning against her frame, the central figure and her arms are in the quintessential nurturing pose of a mother embracing an infant.

Lange’s photo recreates the ultimate feminine symbol: Madonna with child. Not all images of mothers are created equal. How mothers are portrayed in photos has changed over time. From the earliest snapshots to those on screens, it reflects our changing views of their role within society and family.

The woman behind the child

The mother has appeared in photography throughout history. Theodore Maurisset’s drawing is perhaps the first illustration of a mother interacting with the art form. This illustration shows a mother battling with her child in a comical way to get him to take a photograph.

Next time, in Victorian times, she will be the “Hidden Mother,” buried under a thick velvet fabric, holding her child still so that she can be photographed. She is furniture.

Roland Barthes continues to explore the theme hidden in Camera Lucida – the most important photographic treatise.

This intimate book revolved around a photograph of Barthes’ mother when she was six years old. He calls it the Winter Garden photo. He never shows the picture, even though it is central to the book.

It allows him to recognize her autonomy and passage into the role of mother: “I studied the little girl and at last. He can ” now see her as a mother and recognize her passage into that role. “I studied the gir” and finally discovered my mother.”

He does not find her as an adult but rather as a child.

Pure love

The “dea of purity is linked to the Christian ideal of m”ral goodness associated with the immaculate mother.

The mother is the one who brings us into the world. The mother is pictured first in utero, and then she pushes, removes, or pulls the baby out of utero and into the world.

Birth is now a photograph in modern society. A mother’s identity changes through conception, from pregnancy to delivery.

Advertisers remind us that this archetype is based on other sexual representations doing everyday activities. Most images show her at home, performing household chores and demonstrating her cooking and baking skills.

Her glowing skin, feminine softness, and healthy hair are all notable qualities.

The mother changes and shifts over time.

She is both a 1950s homemaker and a modern soccer mom. She glows in pregnancy like Demi Moor, who graced the cover of Vanity Fair. Later, she emulated Beyonce as well as the yummy mummies on Instagram. She may change her values, but she will always be defined by her relationship with her child and her nuclear family.

She will become “the other mother” if she does not fit the mold. In literature and cinema, archetypes such as the monstrous, working, angry, or” crack mother ha”have been presented. However, few photographs capture her departure from pure.

The photographic medium is not able to convey such complexity without captions or parody.

Alec Soth captured mothers who were struggling with opioid addiction in 2018 for the New York Times Magazine. Soth’s images don’t moralize or glamorize. The women are shown in relation to their kids without captions.

Read more: Forget flSoth’sand coconuts for Mother’s Day: keep free childcare going instead.

The possibilities

What other photographic possibilities exist for her if she isMother’sarchetypal or transgressive mother?

The Instagram account and the book Mothers Before show photographs of mothers who are not yet mothers. They are submitted by their children and captioned.

The captions describe the value of each woman as a caregiver, even though the pictures show mothers at a young age.

Fiona Wolf was awarded the Head On Photography Festival Portrait category last week for The Gift, a story about a “modern family of a girl who is born to a warrior mother and two loving fathers.”

Charlie Engman, a fashion photographer, represents his mother. They work closely together. They avoid cliches in the work th” they produce together.

Engman’s book MOM presents an image of motherhood that is different from traditional family portraits and nurturing matriarchs. Engman’s woman is in control of her image and a person who can stand up for herself, regardless of whether she is pregnant or not.

Engman’s mom has a name, unlike Barthes. She is Kathleen McCain Engman. She is sexual, has agency, and is not the hidden mother. Engman’s songs are in a different category: she is amorphous and elusive, as well as individual.