• Jill and Polly in the Bathroom, 1987
  • Graham Cracker Box, 1983
  • Daughter & Mother, 2002
  • The Daughters, 2002

No one knows family dynamics like artist Tina Barney. She’s spent a career photographing large-scale portraits of families, starting with her own, and created some of the most iconic images along the way (see above). So as part of our special Mother’s Day Issue on Tory Daily, we asked Barney to not only talk about her own work but to share her favorite mother-children images of all time.

I love photographing families because…
They form an interesting dynamic. I’m not sure I love photographing them. These portraits are made with a large-format camera and are quite complicated to produce.

The first family portrait I ever made was…
Sunday New York Times, which is a photograph of my great friends gathered for a wonderful morning ritual.

When photographing families, the first thing that always catches my eye is…
The gestures they use to communicate with one another.

The key to taking an interesting family portrait is…
There is no key to making photographs; it’s hard work, which includes much looking and paying attention.

The best advice my mother gave me…
Stand up straight.

Read more features from our Mother’s Day Issues, past and present.

Photographs © Tina Barney, courtesy Janet Borden, Inc., NYC

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