An Intimate Meet with Elinor Carucci: The Visually Private to Public


The stunning body of intimate work, ‘Closer’ was created by Elinor Carucci during 1993 and finished in 2003. The main inspirations of this portfolio of work were of her own mother – therefore the themes displayed are very personal of intimacy and relationships, exploring how these develop and become stimulating.

Carucci found a absence of intimate works – that ‘frustratingly’ do not portray the ‘natural’ birth and development of pregnancy, of which continued as a dominant theme that runs through ‘Closer’.

“Society might tend to hide (intimacy) – I photograph it all to liberate myself”

Its clear that Carucci captures moments of joy and beauty, the really magical moments but then contrast that by works that are so personally positioned that the focus can appear abstract to those who are not familiar with her works.

“I didn’t always plan to what I photograph(ed) – sometimes it was a surprise!”

Carucci admitted that she was so used to working in an intimate environment before going into commercial production. In 1998 imaginative commercial work meant a lot for Carucci, mainly photographing families.

“They know Im a woman – so it’s easy for me to go into the family and photograph strangers’ lives. I don’t photograph differently, I come with all my heart though it’s not emotionally the same”

Here, Carucci is describing her position and social discourse as a woman, being able to be provide that familiar ‘mother-figure’ to complete strangers who are welcoming and eager to trust. Not only her identity as a woman, her identity as a photographer that, during this time, was developing rapidly and formally noticeable as trustworthy, respectful and known for her ability to capture intimacy that, I believe, was not being done in the ethical and approachable way Carucci effortlessly portrayed. Despite this, Carucci admits that even though she still creates intimate works of other’s lives, she can not emotionally compare it to her own.

“Im learning myself as a photographer – learning how to get into someone else’s life and it really made me grow”.

Sensitivity of Carucci’s photographs and the personal lives (of her own and strangers) are captured so naturally. Not only the emotional and physical process of pregnancy but life changing and emotionally destroying periods of life were also visually documented, such as: depression, cancer and autism.

An example of this intimate work Carucci became so passionately and emotionally invested in is case of Kelli Stapleton (2014). Carucci documented this case on behalf of New York Times, allowing her audience to see the unspeakable into a public domain.

During 2014, Stapleton attempted to murder her own autistic daughter, for further information on the trial: (

For the New York Times coverage of Stapleton in prison, photographs by Carucci:


Q/A’s with Elinor Carucci

“If and when do you have breaks between your works? “

“Until I start ‘seeing again’ I will restart taking photos after a break”

“…To make images that are for me – when working I assist that I know. I feel as though my life is one big project in forms of family and relationships…”

“(With regards to social media) – it’s a different world everybody is exposed to today.”

Carucci acknowledges her growing confidence and relationships with her participants, of whom she interviews after, during the photography process: “I have no plan to force closeness, sometimes really amazing conversations happen, other times they don’t.”

“I developed a lot of sensitivity by dancing and photographing – helped gain and heighten the understanding of sensitivity (especially when) with participants trying to understand who they are and what they want from me.”

Carucci admitted that she is emotionally and physically so fulfilled as a mother with her children – which is clearly shown by the way her photographs interact with her audience. Introducing almost an escape into her world that displays natural struggles, joys moments of ‘everyday’ lifestyle.

Do you feel pressured to try and convey that?”

“The conversations (I have) with mum’s in a park – they might not even know Im a photographer! So my personal work I can fail and no one will know… Im showing a lot of myself – its comforting for me.”

Carucci’s ethical approach to her methods is refreshing and provides the additional personal touches to her works. With regards to how Carucci structures these bodies of art,

“I open with a strong image… I want to talk about real people starting with family and ending with family. There are some things that you can do better on your own – I was more successful for doing things on my own.”

Intimately meeting with Elinor Carucci deepened by understanding to the process of how bodies of art can be developed, though in a natural way that allows the flow of the (visual) documentation appear effortless, enhancing and ultimately engage your audience into your own personal work(s). I wish to continue to use the methods Carucci had expressed throughout the duration of meeting with her – to continue to not attempt to force a relationship with participants and allow the conversation to develop itself, therefore providing a unique body of research and evaluation.


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