It is in Jerusalem that photographer Elinor Carucci was born and raised. And it’s in New York City that she became a professional photographer. Inspired by her own family relationships, where the female protagonists are numerous and play key roles, she captures images with universal value, while remaining very autobiographical. In her book Midlife, she brings precious testimonies of women in this both challenging yet wonderful part of their life…

Why and how did you begin photography ?

I was fifteen and a half, and I was already doing some other art forms ; I was playing classical piano since I was 5 and I was studying drama theater. But photography was my first falling in love. It started by photographing my mother. I just took my father’s camera, walked in my mother’s room and took a picture of her. It was my first picture. I still have it somewhere. 

Then I continued to photograph her. She was not an easy woman to deal with : she is very beautiful, glamorous and she could be very demanding on me in terms of excelling. And suddenly, with photography, I found a way to deal with it. And there was also so much more than I saw and understood because I was photographing it. Then I photographed the rest of the family. It was different ways to experience the world. And it never stops. 

A year and a half later, when I was seventeen, I visited New York and that’s where I wanted to be a professional photographer. Thanks to my camera I feel more, I see more, I understand more and I dive into the world around me.

Who are your favorite people to photograph ?

The people I’m the most closed to. My mother definitely, but also my children, my husband, and myself. Sometimes I’m my favorite person, but not always. All of them are the people I think I can dive as deep as I can to the most personal and intimate places. With them, I can reach deeper to talk about universal things, but through the people that I know and love the most.

Why do women have a place of honor in your work ? 

I was raised by my mother and grandmother, I have a lot of pictures of her too, a lot of my work is about the core of who we are as human being but through the eyes of a woman ; it’s about being a woman, it’s about the women who brought me into the world and raise me, it’s about mother love and dedication which is maybe the most important theme in my work.

It’s funny when sometimes people look at my work or other photographers who deal with the theme of maternity, they think that’s a limited thing. Whereas we all come to the world through women and mother’s love is such an important element in our life. Actually, that’s maybe the most important subject in my work…

How do you cultivate your inspiration ?

Inspiration is an interesting thing. It can comes from the photographers that I admire through the year like Nan Goldin : her words, her honesty and directness.
Inspiration can also comes from other sources like stand up comedy. For example, my body of work Mother came to life after watching sketches of, and I know where not suppose to talk about him these days, Louis C.K. Because a lot of it are biographical, direct and honest work which are making us think and relooks a thing in a different way.

For Midlife, my recent book that came out in a fall, I was inspired by reading books but also by the women I talked to, especially the ones who are in the middle of their life. Inspiration can come from things you saw in the subway and photographers you admired, it can also comes from negative emotions, like envying someone. And most of all, inspiration comes from life. We were hit by Covid-19 and this affected my work too. Suddenly the weird lives that we are all living all over the world became an inspiration.