Portraits of a Zesty Mother


New York-based photographer Molly Matalon journals her relationship to her zesty mother against the tropical tones of South Florida. Matalon’s mother provides ample fodder for this lighthearted but tender documentary series, dressed to the nines in cheetah print, hair perfectly coiffed and makeup always done flawlessly. Matalon just completed her junior year at School of Visual Arts, she’s visiting her mother in Florida, and it’s raining there, so she has some time to tell us a little more.

When did you start photographing your mother and what draws you to her as a subject?
“I really truly started taking pictures of my mom in high school, for her. She was joining some dating websites and wanted me to take her picture for them because she knew I loved taking pictures already so I can only assume she thought it was a good idea. My mom’s overall character and personality is very…eccentric and she loves the camera. It seems as if she has a persona for the camera, but in reality what she displays for the camera is how she is in ‘real life’ as well.”

Do you see yourself in these pictures?
“I’m not sure about that one. We look a lot alike, so on the most visual level I can see myself. I see how I’ve become a lot like her since really honing in on this project. We are both very interested in looks and how one presents themselves to the world.”

How do these pictures reflect your relationship with your mom?
“My mom and I have a very symbiotic relationship as seen in these pictures. She needs me (to be the photographer, to be her friend…and then daughter, and to be someone to talk about) as I need her (to photograph and talk about).

Our relationship is very different than what I’ve experienced with most mothers and daughters. By introducing the camera to her and letting her be the center stage of my work, it makes her feel elevated and important on some kind of celebrity level. We are each other’s project, only my half is photographic.”






Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Matthew Leifheit is an independent writer, curator, and photographer based in New York City.

  • Joshua Goodman

    Well done Molly! And kudos to the author’s on-point call to “ample fodder”; as someone who knows both you and your mom well, I can vouch that he nailed it. Good work!

  • Exct photos & idea

  • Excellat Photos & idea

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