Thirty-Five And One
by Morgan Kazanjian
The bond between mother and daughter is an indescribable one, but Rachel Hulin comes pretty close with her intimate, ethereal and classically-inspired portraits of herself and her daughter. Titled “Thirty-Five And One” for the subjects’ respective ages, the series draws on the color palette of Baroque and Flemish styles, with emphasized reds and flesh tones in each image. The sense of nostalgia found in Rachel’s previous work is present in this series as well, unifying this project with her overall style.
I’ve always been interested in the personal documentary; be it in still lifes or portraits, and when my kids came along it seemed a natural progression to make work involving them to capture this very heady time of motherhood.
Some photographers struggle to create personal work, whether it be for a lack of time, a lack of ideas, or whatever else, but the creation of Rachel’s personal work isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity.
I really don’t know how I wouldn’t make personal work – I’m just compelled to make images all the time. I’ve been more interested in making discreet bodies of work lately, perhaps to sort of harness the chaos that surrounds me with two children, and to make sure I finish the projects.
While the images feel effortless and natural, creating the series didn’t come without some unique challenges.
This was the first time I’ve made any self-portraits, so that was a major block I needed to overcome. I think a big crux of the project is that I’m in my mid-late thirties, I’m feeling the pull of middle age, and if I’m going to include myself in a picture, now might be the time!
The actual creation of the photos was inspired by various things. Rachel would sketch and takes notes on her phone whenever she had an idea or saw something visually intriguing, and the influence of classical paintings is undeniable. The idea of how classical paintings of motherhood can influence contemporary portraiture is something she’s very interested in. She plans on continuing to explore it as she expands the project to include other people with their children.
The images are very specific to her, but the universal topic of motherhood has allowed Rachel’s work to resonate with a wide variety of people.
I think a lot of mothers of different generations have really related to the project; especially relating to the special mother/daughter connection. So that has been really wonderful.
To see more of Rachel’s work, check out her website.