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What is Family?

This assignment ran from May 13 to Jun 3, 2019.

When I think of family, I think of my grandmother’s house filled with the robust laughter of my large Italian-German family. I smell my grandmother’s homemade cookies. I see the stairs where we take a family portrait every year, in which someone is guaranteed to be blinking.

I grew up in a nuclear family; there was my mom, my dad, my sister, and I. My parents still live in the third house on the right side of our street. The home has a new coat of paint but the same feeling it has always had. As a photographer, I am intrigued by how societal changes are affecting our definitions of family. I enjoy exploring the differences between every family I meet and how those differences mold and shape their family dynamics.

Over the years, I have met a Mormon couple with quadruplets, a woman who got pregnant on her own through IVF, a transgender man who had an unplanned pregnancy with his partner, a group of senior synchronized swimmers who teach the youth how to swim, and a single mom of eight adopted foster children.

For this assignment, I want you to think about what family means to you. Is it your life partner, children, parents, or friends? Is it the traditional dish your mother cooks or the house you grew up in? Maybe it's your memories of plastic-wrapped furniture, coupons on the refrigerator, an old stuffed animal you never got rid of, or the creaking swing in your backyard. Maybe it’s a lake or a team. I want you to think outside the box and let me know: What does family mean to you?

Jackie Molloy
Independent Visual Journalist

Curated by:

Jackie Molloy
Independent Visual Journalist
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

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Published Jun 19, 2019.
Thank you for your contributions!

Editor's Update from Jackie Molloy

Posted may 24, 2019

Hey everyone! First off, I am loving all your submissions so far. It’s been a pleasure seeing both the similarities and differences between your families from around the world! There is a true sense of intimacy in many of your photos, some that stop me in my tracks and make me think of my own family. The other night I projected your photos on a big screen and was in awe of many of these submissions which were filled with quiet moments, loud moments, moments that make me laugh. I love to feel something when I am looking at photos - so thank you for that!

I have been keeping up with the discussion and want to note that this assignment doesn’t have to only be positive. If you have a distant relationship with your family, or maybe your family is a tough topic for you, that’s okay. Family is different for everyone and thats what I want to explore. As humans, we experience struggle and hardships and I think it's something that we need to show more and more.

Along with that, I would love to see some more photos that are a little outside the box. Things that maybe symbolize your family in a different way. Whether it’s a meal, a stuffed animal, a game, a love note, or old letter, or maybe it’s just a more artistic approach exploring your concept of family.

Keep up the great work everyone!

Jackie Molloy

Jackie Molloy

Independent Visual Journalist
Jackie is an award winning, internationally published visual journalist, currently based in New York City, working regionally. Family is the root of Jackie's passion for storytelling as she enjoys exploring modern families overcoming adversities all over the spectrum in topics ranging from transgender rights, fertility issues, foster care, and disability. In her spare time, Jackie can be found with her nose in a book, doing random dance moves, and exploring new places.