Three Generations of Motherhood In Over 40 Years of Vintage Photos

2 minute read

“The aging and getting ill and passing away, it’s part of life,” says photographer Arlene Gottfried.

Mommie (powerHouse 2016), Gottfried’s latest and most personal book to date, is an epic compilation of over 40 years documenting her mother, grandmother and sister’s lives in New York City. She modestly describes the project as “a portrait of three generations of powerful women.”

Since the 1970’s Gottfried’s become known as a chronicler of the often overlooked characters on the streets of New York City but here she captures the most intimate story of the women in her family. “Part of it was trying to stop time,” she says “which of course I couldn’t do.”

Mommie presents an unflinching portrait of her family, finding exquisite beauty in the most ordinary moments, comfort through the darkest parts of the aging process and hope in the continuation of life. “I mean life wasn’t easy,” she says, “but they gave so much the best way they knew how.”

Arlene Gottfried is a photographer based in New York City. Her photographs can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. Gottfried is the author of Midnight (powerHouse Books, 2003), The Eternal Light (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 1999),Sometimes Overwhelming (powerHouse 2008), Bacalaitos and Fireworks and her most recent book Mommie (powerHouse 2016).

Paul Moakley is the Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @paulmoakley.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at