James Friedman 1,029,398 Cigarettes

01_Mom, 1972

Mom, 1972

Mom

Mom, 1977

Mom

Mom, 1942

Mom

Mom with her last cat, Max Katz,1986

Mom

Mom, 1973

06_Mom, 1990

Mom, 1990

Mom

Mom with her older brother, 1929

Mom

Mom with her older brother and nephew, 1975

Mom

Mom visiting Pop's grave, 1970

10_Mom, 1983

Mom, 1979

Mom

Mom and her brothers Mack and Ivan, Miami, 1931

Mom

Mom and her brothers Mack and Ivan,1987

Mom

Mom with her brothers, 1990

Mom

Mom, 1975

Mom

Mom. 1989

Mom

Mom, 1964

Mom

Mom and me, 1990

Mom

Mom, 1959

My mother began smoking when she was eleven years old and we determined, towards the end of her life, she had smoked approximately 1,029,398 cigarettes during her lifetime. 1,029,398 Cigarettes shows the life and death of my mother through photographs I made starting when I was nine years old and continuing for three decades, until her death. The project reveals the transformation of an attractive, charismatic woman to one suffering the torturous physical ravages of emphysema caused by forty-seven years of smoking.
Contrary to her camera-shy nature, my mother actually encouraged me to photograph her during the harrowing last eight months of her life, all spent either in a hospital or a nursing home. While the initial objective of 1,029,398 Cigarettes was to make indelible pictures that would move smokers to seek help for their addiction, our project became, unpredictably, a way for us to connect on an emotional level that had previously been impossible. The most significant benefit of our photographic collaboration was discovering ways to express affection toward one another; I don’t remember any kissing or even minimal displays of affection between members of my family as I was growing up. But, after visiting my mother in the hospital on a daily basis for eight months and photographing frequently, we began—for the first time in our lives—to kiss goodbye when I departed for the day. Our newly discovered demonstrations of affection were poignant and bittersweet, as we knew she had only a short time to live.

All images © courtesy of James Friedman

www.jamesfriedmanphotographer.com