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This Is How: ‘Sisters For Life’ by Denise Motz

An honour to have the fantastic Netherlands-based TiR member Denise Motz on the blog today to take us behind this recent Reportage Award of hers! Not only is the story behind the image powerful, but Denise’s insights into the way she works and got this capture, along with lots of supporting images, really makes this a must-read. Thank you, Denise!

This moment takes place in a backyard in Ede (the Netherlands) just after the toast. A very cozy and homely environment with lots of greenery. The women look like two friends, but they are in fact two sisters. The woman on the left is the mother of the groom and could only be there very briefly. I was told in advance that she might be there only for half an hour during toast time. She was dementing and soon it would become too crowded for her.

The Aunt of the groom, the woman on the right, was there all day. She was mentally very sharp, but in bad physical shape. The moment the mother of the groom arrived I shifted all my focus and started following her. After a congratulation round she was put down next to her sister by the home help who also kept an eye on her constantly. The beauty of this is that she did not recognize many people anymore, but with her sister you saw her come back to life and she was very happy!

Image by Denise Motz

Congratulation round

Groom & Mother

Image by Denise Motz

First moment between the two

Image by Denise Motz

With helper

In order not to ruin the moment, I waited on my knees from a distance with my 85 mm lens. I wanted to make it feel like you could be the third sister in the moment. There were many pictures where the helper held and comforted the woman, but because of that I did not come as close as I wanted. I was waiting until she left them alone for a bit. The glass of champagne, the touch of the hands and the look in each other’s eyes made me melt, this was it!

Image by Denise Motz


For a while I thought that the colored picture was better, because the colors were so beautiful. After a good thought on it with colleagues, I decided to go black and white. The colors distracted too much from what it is all about, the moment between them. The smile is also more powerful because of the beautiful lines in the faces that are now more visible. I’ve darkened the background a bit so that they stand out more.

sisters for life by Denise Motz

Black and White

Moment after

Powerful images don’t need the best settings. Big moments are in the smallest things!

You can see lots more of Denise’s work over on her website, or here on her This is Reportage profile.

Enjoyed this ‘This is How…’ article? Then you’ll love the fact that we have lots more pieces like this over here. If you’re interested in joining TiR then head over here to see the benefits that a membership brings.


Aga Tomaszek

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