I started photographing my mother to learn how to use a camera; I continued doing so in order to spend some time with her. I’m still photographing her to witness and tell our story.

Photography is a sort of bridge in our relationship—it helps me to know her. With this statement, I don’t mean that photography can fill the communication gap between us. Spending more time with my mother, I have realized that our relationship is charged with life’s difficulties and contradictions. What I mean to say is that photography is one of the very few moments where we connect and discuss things; in fact, it has been the main one for several years now.

The project is called “Daniela: Portrait of My Mother,” but it’s not only my mother’s portrait. In this work I represent her life’s situations and events, the ones that directly impact me, and my own family experiences. Sometimes the situations I stage become real: a memory and an experience that I witness in the very moment I shoot them.

“Of course, some painful cracks developed in my soul, and I lived away from reality for who knows how long.” This is one of the sentences my mother wrote in her diary. It offers an important reference point for this work.

—Niko Giovanni Coniglio

Editor’s Note: Coniglio’s project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017—don’t miss the work from all 44 of the outstanding, international talents! You can follow Coniglio’s work on his personal website. This work was recently published by Vogue Italia.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like these previous features: Side of the South, a timely rumination on the photographer’s family and the American south; Emmy’s World, the story of a young photographer and her unique relationship with an idiosyncratic older couple in The Netherlands; and The Restoration Will, a moving tribute to parents lost in Japan’s devastating 2011 tsunami, partially shot with the father’s camera.