A love letter from photographer Sophie Mayanne

In a new series for CR, we’re asking artists and creatives to talk about the people or pieces of work that have most inspired them. Here, Sophie Mayanne – who created Mothercare’s Body Proud Mums campaign – pays tribute to her mum

What’s beautiful about inspiration is sometimes it’s closer to home than you think. As a photographer – more often than not – it makes sense to photograph what we know. Some of the very first photographs I took were of my mum. Although she wouldn’t forgive me if I showed those now, these images were defining in my language as a photographer. I explored her relationship with her body, and weight loss.

Like myself, my mum has had difficulty with her weight – and my images at this point had begun to explore how women felt about their bodies, and how this affected their relationship with fashion. Fashion was a pretty new world to me back then, as was photography. My mum was the first person to trust me behind the camera. The first person to hug me when I published my first editorial. And she is always the one I call when things go wrong!

Sometimes I joke that I should photograph her again, and I am normally met with ‘been there, done that, worn the T-shirt!’ – but I know for both of us we shared a deeper connection through taking those photographs. We have always been close, but as I navigate adulthood, we are now beginning to know each other more as adults, our mother-daughter bond deepening as we go.

Years later, I have found myself experiencing complex body issues too, and exploring my own journey with weight. Something we have bonded (and argued!) over, as we did in the very first photographs I took. I now instead find myself turning the camera on myself to try and understand things better. I borrow those initial ideas, and explore them with a slightly more skilled eye than before.

Exploring my own thoughts and feelings in this way has allowed me to see just how hard it can be to hold up a mirror to myself – an inkling of how my mum may have felt trusting her 16 year-old daughter to photograph her in all her truths.

So thank you, mum – for being the first person to trust me completely. For always being there in my work – sometimes physically, and always emotionally – and for continuing to inspire me through my own difficult journeys, and image-making.

All photos shown here are part of Mayanne’s recent self-portrait series. You can also read about her Body Proud Mums project for Mothercare here; sophie-mayanne.com

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes