Charlie Engman talks us through his ten-year project photographing his mum, Kathleen

The New York-based photographer gives a fascinating insight into the ins and outs of photographing your mother – and then turning it into a book.

25 June 2020


Our third speaker of the evening at May’s Nicer Tuesdays was Charlie Engman, a New York-based photographer, who took to the stage to discuss his long-term collaboration with his mum, Kathleen. The culmination of ten years, he talked us through his new publication, aptly named Mom – the launch of which coincided with the lockdown. But quarantine aside, he couldn’t wait but show us the physical document through our zoom call.

Then switching over to his screen, Charlie ran us through the process for making the book. “I’m much more interested in the relationship between images and what’s going on through that process rather than talking about specific ideas,” he began to inform us, before guiding us through an eloquently displayed selection of well-curated pictures of his mother.

Documenting familial relationships and the power of photography, it was a process that first commenced after university and quickly evolved into an immense project like no other. “The more developed that work became [I realised that] actually this person is a person,” he said. “She is a flesh and blood human with all sorts of contradictions and complexities.” Asking “what does it even mean to photograph someone?” this series is as intimate as it gets, and we advise you take some time out today to listen in and observe the making of this outstanding publication.

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