• PROOF:
  • July 17, 2015

The Love Between Mother and Child, in Photos

Twice a month our Your Shot community runs a photo assignment with a topic chosen by a guest editor. Our most recent assignment, Mother and Child, was imagined and curated by National Geographic contributing photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who’s known for her documentary work focusing on sensitive issues facing women and girls around the world.

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For this set of Your Shot images, I wanted to visualize something visceral rather than literal. I began with this quote:

“[A] mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.” —Emily Dickinson

Given the global reach of Your Shot, I wondered how the community might capture this idea visually.

As I looked through the images, intimacy, love, and strength were just a handful of the emotions that appeared. It was not the images alone that inspired me but the stories behind the photographs. Here are five photos from the final edit that stuck with me because of their visual strength and their narratives. —Stephanie Sinclair

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Picture of a mother cheetah standing over her cubs in Kenya's Masai Mara reserve
Photograph by Mohammed Yousef, National Geographic Your Shot

One of the first images to catch my eye was by photographer Mohammed Yousef. Mohammed shared the story of Malaika, a well-known cheetah in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve. In his caption, Mohammed explains the protective expression and stance he captured as the mother stood over her cubs. “A lioness killed one of her cubs, [now] she is left with five.” Not only did this image have beautiful light and strong composition, but it also resonated so strongly with the quote I shared from Emily Dickinson.

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Black and white photo of a woman gazing down at the shells of eight broken eggs that she cradles in her arms
Photograph by Tracey Stevens, National Geographic Your Shot

The stunning portrait by Tracey Stevens is of a woman named Alex, who is eight months pregnant, delicately holding several broken eggs. Her caption reads, “The eggs cradled in her arms are representations of the eggs she lost and the babies she miscarried. There was both pleasure and pain while taking this photo, the pain of loss and the joy of a new life who is now a gorgeous full-of-life two-year-old.” I felt it important to show a less frequently photographed aspect of the mother and child relationship. Tracey’s depiction of infertility and loss is respectful and powerful.

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Picture of a mother looking at her daughter in her school uniform in their small home in Nepal, before she sets off for the school day
Photograph by Daniel Perlaky, National Geographic Your Shot

Daniel Perlaky submitted a thought-provoking image of a moment between a mother and daughter living in Nepal. Daniel showed a sophisticated understanding of the decisive moment, looking not for peak action but instead for a subtle yet powerful instant. “This beautiful and honest moment completely captured my heart,” he writes in his caption. “They remained quietly like this for nearly a minute.” The farming family left their home to move to a smaller shack with a location that would allow their daughters to attend school.

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An aerial photograph of a mother taking a nap with her child on the ground in Delhi, India
Photograph by Ankit Narang, National Geographic Your Shot

Ankit Narang didn’t have to travel far from his home in Delhi to photograph an image for the Mother and Child assignment. As he explained, “[While] some laborers were working right below my house, I climbed up on my terrace and unexpectedly found … [a] mother … taking a nap with her daughter. Forced to work as a laborer due to lack of education and no other means left to make a living … they make the construction site their temporary home, moving from one place to another.” I loved that Ankit not only found a beautiful moment but also took the extra step of learning about this family, thereby making the image much more powerful.

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Black and white photo of a girl holding up her right arm which is clad in a boxing glove, and looking up at someone who is out of the grame, as they wipe her face
Photograph by Cletus Nelson Nwadik, National Geographic Your Shot Photograph by Cletus Nelson Nwadik, National Geographic Your Shot

For the final photograph, Cletus Nelson Nwadik wrote about his experience traveling to Nigeria after living many years abroad. “Academically girls are doing better than boys at schools in my village,” he said. “Boys [die] more than girls in their infancy … Without girls my village will perish. Girls have so [many] burdens on their shoulders. They sometimes hold the weight of the world on their shoulders. But girls [live] longer and often [are] not involved in drugs as much as boys … The future belongs to girls … Poverty and getting married at [an] early age are their biggest challenges …”


For more photographic interpretations of Mother and Child see the rest of the published story on Your Shot.

Proof has featured the work of Stephanie Sinclair many times. Hear her talk about creating a sense of urgency through photography, and listen to her discuss her latest assignment for National Geographic magazine, photographing the living goddesses of Nepal.

There are 7 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Elaine Stewart
    August 7, 2015

    There is nothing so precious as new life. You have captured the essence of care and protection. Thank you.

  2. Kim Zürcher
    August 4, 2015

    Amazing photographs. If I may make a small comment: Malaika is a Cheetah and not a well-known leopard in Kenya

    • Coburn Dukehart
      August 4, 2015

      Thank you noticing that! The caption has been corrected.

  3. Mohit
    July 25, 2015

    Narang’s capture is making me emotional ..i witness similar sight here and there in India.

  4. Ingrid Wassenaar
    July 23, 2015

    These photos make me sad. They speak about the enormous burdens that are placed on females, and how those burdens are transmitted from one generation to the next without being lightened — indeed being made heavier. Females seem to me to bear a disproportionate responsibility for the happiness and wellbeing of others, while being deprived of these things themselves.

  5. Regina Philangee
    July 23, 2015

    That was beautiful

  6. Don Snell
    July 17, 2015

    The intimate photos remind me of Eugene Smith of days gone by. Well done.

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