May 9, 2018
Appropriately, this is our Mother's Day episode, and our title borrows Maya Angelou’s description of her mother from “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” Photographer Elinor Carucci struck us with some of her own perfect power during this week’s recording of the B&H Photography Podcast. I doubt much stands in her way, but there's a calm too—born of family support, nurtured by maturity, and assured with the confidence that comes from presenting yourself to the world, warts and all—in other words, from “putting yourself out there.” Our talk today is about her photography, particularly her fine art work as represented in her books, Closer, from 2002, and Mother, from 2013. Both works are an exploration of motherhood and family, the first centered on her own mother and, the later book, on herself as a mother, and her children.
We do speak about her photographic style and technique, we talk about editing decisions, camera settings, lighting, macro lenses, and how to recreate “spontaneous” moments, but the heart of our conversation is motherhood and family and how an artist portrays family and self, particularly in a manner as personal and intimate as Carucci’s. If you know her work, there should be little surprise that, in conversation, she is candid and open about her process, her talents and her flaws. We talk about burning negatives, authorship, influences that come from strange corners, and just how difficult it is to make a good photo. If you are looking for a “Hallmark moment,” this may not be the episode for you, but if you enjoy an engaged, introspective and, at times, hilarious conversation about art, family, and culture, then settle in for this Mother’s Day present, wrapped for photographers everywhere.
Guest: Elinor Carucci
Photograph ©Elinor Carucci, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery