Marina Hoppmann portrays grieving daughters who have lost their mothers.
Photography: Marina Hoppmann
Text: Ligia Popławska

In Mothers and Daughters the German photographer Marina Hoppmann reflects on the pain of loss through intimate encounters with young women, who like herself, have lost their mothers. At the beginning of the project, longing for a connection and an exchange of experiences, Marina took on the emotional task of interrogating her feelings and meeting other young women who have suffered through the same loss. Hoppmann met the women in their personal spaces, who wearing their late mothers clothing, disclosed their feelings and memories in front of the photographer. The series of emotional portraits captured with calming sensitivity, accompanies images of their mothers taken from family archives and letters written by each daughter after their mother’s passing. 

What motivated you to start Mothers and Daughters? 

I lost my mother when I was seventeen and I knew I wanted to make a project about her and about this pain of loss, for quite some time. At the beginning I didn’t know how and felt too vulnerable to start the project. But I had this strong longing for exchange and felt the urge to talk to women who have suffered the same loss and who might have similar feelings. I have a lot of clothes from my mother, in which I feel really safe and close to her. This led me to the idea to take a portrait with her, with her on my mind and with her clothes on my body. Not only do these garments build a visual, but also a physical connection, a shared body, between mother and daughter. I wanted to honour and visualise our relationship, even if she’s not around anymore.

What did you find the most fascinating and challenging while working on this project?

I am really fascinated by the courage of the women I photographed. I think it is so brave to be part of a project like this and to be so open with your feelings. 

This project definitely had a therapeutic effect. Confronting myself with my own grief, but also with theirs, their memories and feelings was not always easy. It was relieving and exhausting at the same time. Taking pictures and taking care of technical stuff, while talking about highly emotional things was also quite challenging. 

What is your main interest in the subjects you photograph?

Especially in this project it was all about our meeting, our conversations and the exchange of experiences.

What do you understand by ‘intimate photography’ and what do you find the most intimate in your photographic process? 

For me intimate photography means to create photographs that reflect your feelings or something that you experienced. In the process of my Mothers and Daughters series the most intimate was to turn the camera on myself.

What are you currently working on or planning to do next?

I will keep on photographing women for my Mothers and Daughters project. And I will probably stick to the topics of motherhood, love and loss for sometime. I can imagine photographing the women from my project again, when they will become a mother themselves. This would be beautiful.