These are the photos I still love‎.

Photographs are like your own children. You see the beauty in them; you also see the flaws. Maybe they are not the popular kids at school, but you love them as they are. You must—they are yours.

These are the images that were not chosen to be in my book, MOTHER.

After Prestel committed to publishing my book, I narrowed down 10 years’ worth of work to 165 images. In that process, hundreds of beloved photos had to go.

I then sat down to edit the work with Karen Levine, my wonderful editor, who I loved and trusted. When we got down to 140, it was hard for me to continue. So, I left Karen to do the “dirty work.” And she did—still 15 more disappeared.

Many photos didn’t even make it to the first edit. Over the years I made MOTHER, I had collaborated with curators and galleries on exhibitions. In the process, some images were marked as “not strong enough” and shelved.

A few months ago, while looking for some files, I finally went through all the work again. I hadn’t seen all of the images at once for over a year. Suddenly, I saw them—the images that were too quiet to be noticed. Maybe some were just a little awkward, others just a little harsh. Maybe some really weren’t “strong” enough. Others were, but had been overlooked.

In that moment, a set of images from those discarded stood out to me. I saw them in a different light—I saw qualities I felt I had missed earlier. A wave of guilt washed over me. I felt ashamed that I hadn’t fought for them and defended them back then.

So here they are. My beloved images, after all that. The images I still love.

—Elinor Carucci


Editors’ note: Carucci’s book, an intimate portrait of motherhood, was called “stunning” by the Huffington Post and spotlighted on TIME LightBox after its publication by Prestel in 2013. These exclusive images from the series—picked by Carucci for our feature—have never been published before.