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Mama Tried – a self portrait series

Mama Tried is a self portrait project that stemmed from a single photo. The single photo was made for an assignment as part of my mentor ship with Kirsten Lewis. The assignment was to choose a song and create an image, of any genre. I chose Merle Haggard’s song titled, ‘Mama Tried’, perhaps you can pick out with photo of the series that was. The chorus goes like this:

And I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied
That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried

I decided to continue the series by creating different self portraits of me and my five children. These images are imagined a head of time, in my head, then on paper through a drawing and scribbled notes in my notebook. I often find myself jotting down notes in a day of something that happened, an ordinary moment or gesture, that is universal to mothers, that I could possibly use in one of my photos. The images are ‘semi-posed’, but let’s be honst, by subjects are candid human beings and any direction given to them is inspired by candid, everyday moments.

When I find opportunity to do a self portrait, we set up the camera and anything needed. With five kids between the ages of one and nine, the images never turn out exactly as I had planned, and I encourage the spontaneity from the kids, as I know it makes for better photos. I just make sure that the timing of everyone and composition is as I wish. I use the ten second timer or a remote to take a self portrait. It takes a few tries, and the kids are always rewarded after their work with ice cream or another treat.

My hope is that these photos are a treasure hunt of classic moments giving the viewer a feelings of nostaglia and love. Follow along, as we plan to continue creating images for Mama Tried – a self portrait series, for the years to come.

Check out our other projects we have going on here.

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