I remember walking through a cemetery marked with hundreds of elaborate headstones, each engraved with family names and epitaphs, when I noticed a small gray stone, no larger than a cereal box. Set deep in the earth, it read only, “Mother.”
My eyes filled as I wondered who was buried beneath the block of granite. Then I thought about my own mother and how she shaped so much of who I am.
When I think about special days, like Mother’s Day,, I consider motherhood in all species, and what a great gift to our world a caring mother is. The universal title “mother” evokes so many deep emotions.
As a documentary photographer, I am always on the lookout for pictures that tell stories of meaningful and compassionate relationships, whether among humans or between humans and animals.
We are bombarded daily with ugly images of people hurting or killing each other. We need to counter those sad, dark pictures with the lovely scenes of light and goodness all around us.
Recently, I was challenged by students to share some of my favorite photographs made over a long career. While this proved far more difficult than imagined, I eventually settled on a handful of photographs authentic to my way of seeing the world, regardless if they were popular or prizewinners.
One photograph I chose, made in Oklahoma in the mid-’80s, shows a woman—a mother—presenting a newborn lamb to its mother. It is one of those quiet, tender moments that reminds us of universal motherhood and the caring relationships people and animals can share. Perhaps that beautiful unspoken communication between the species is something only mothers can truly understand.
Take time to reflect on what motherhood means to you. See if you can capture in a photograph the sensitivity, power, courage and tenderness of motherhood in people or animals. Perhaps a portrait, sculpted by soft light, best speaks to the beauty of motherhood? Or, perhaps, nesting birds or other creatures going about birthing or raising their young best communicate what you see and feel?
Email your best image (just one, please) with caption information, including an explanation of how it affects you, to GPH@pur.coop. We may share submissions on our website and social media channels.