Denise Felkin


Denise Felkin is an award-winning British photographer, whose work migrates between creative portraiture and documentary photography
Driven by research-led projects, Denise collaborates with her subjects to create cutting-edge images that speak about current issues to reveal a truthful voice, and promote unity, equality, and compassion.
Denise's work has been published by BBC, The Observer, The Guardian, Huck Magazine and I newspaper, and has also featured at Glastonbury Festival, Brighton Photo Fringe, Brighton Festival, Brighton Photo Biennial, and many other events worldwide.
When Denise was nineteen, she told her mother that she did not want children. Her mother immediately dismissed her admission, and said she would feel differently when she was older; she never did.

Now aged fifty, she has conceived Mum’s not the word, a book of images of women who do not have children.
  • This important and poignant book of photo essays by Denise Felkin brings some much-needed humanity to bear on the harsh judgements that our pronatalist society holds about women who don’t have children. Each naked portrait is tender, vulnerable and raw, and the accompanying participant commentary is by turns shocking, illuminating, refreshing and heartbreaking. These women are literally laid bare, and this somehow gives them a greater right for their truths to be heard. Whether the women are childless due to infant loss, through motherhood ambivalence leading to a happy (or regretful) life without children, failed infertility treatments, clear-sighted self-awareness, unchosen singleness or other complex factors, they lie here and challenge us to appreciate for a moment what life might be like in their skin. Often those who’ve chosen non-motherhood – the childfree – are placed in one box, and those for whom this wasn’t what they’d hoped (the childless) in another; yet this courageous and sympathetic book lays them side-by-side, and in doing so, reveals the lived complexity and ambiguity of being a non-mother in our motherhood-obsessed world.

    Jody Day
    Author, Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children, and founder of Gateway Women Productions
  • Denise Felkin's "Mum's Not The Word" is an engaging and thought-provoking body of work. The artist clearly demonstrates how photography can be used to create debate and the World Photography Organisation is proud to have recognised Felkin at the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards.

    Scott Gray
  • Denise Felkin is a wonderful photographer and documentary artist.

    It’s not easy to utilise conceptual photography effectively for any subject, let alone to try and communicate the thoughts and feelings of women without children, and the negativity they face in today’s society. But Denise Felkin has done this beautifully with this remarkable series of photographs and words.

    I am truly moved by this work, and thankful to Denise and the women in this book. I learned a lot.

    Tony Bell
    The Observer
  • As a filmmaker on the same subject, what I enjoy most about Denise’s book is the vulnerability of the images. The raw honesty of women owning up at times to their struggles as well as their dreams, and the opportunities afforded to them by not having kids, is powerful. I have found in my work, and now in Denise’s, that people are incredibly moved by the visual. Bravo, Denise: you have produced a body of work that will support many women.

    Maxine Trump
    Director, To Kid Or Not To Kid the movie
  • Denise confronts our possible preconceptions and elegantly reveals the complexities of procreation, dispelling the notion that bearing children is an absolute. The accompanying quotes, by the women pictured, inform us of the infinite expanse of conditions that we might not have considered.

    Mum's Not The Word is a deep, thought-provoking. meaningful and concerned documentary.

    Ben Edwards
  • As a childfree-by-choice woman I think the book is an excellent way to share the stories and raise awareness of women who choose to be childfree or are childfree by circumstance. Society places a lot of expectation on women to have children, and you can feel as though you are the only woman who doesn’t want them. I think this book is necessary for women to hear the stories of those who are childfree, and equally important for men to do so, too. I love Denise’s choice to have the women in a foetal position, too.

    Caley Powell
    Producer, Lights Down Productions


World Photography Gala Awards special edition of Julia Margaret Cameron: Women Seen by Women. Mum's Not The Word receives an Honourable Mention. (January 2018)
National Open Art Competition. MS Amlin Sponsored Prize 'Continuity in an Uncertain World'. Mum's Not The Word. Finalist (November 2017)
National Open Art Competition. Mum's Not The Word. Finalist (September 2017)
10th Julia Margaret Cameron Award. Mum's Not The Word. Finalist in Editorial & Documentary category. (July 2017)
9th Edition Pollux Awards. Mum's Not The Word. Finalist in the Documentary category. (Nov 2016)
Photography Grant and Magazine. Mum's Not The Word. Nominee Award in People. (Oct 2016)
Sony World Photography Award Mum's Not The Word, Finalist in the People category (Feb 2016)
International Photography Award. I'm Not Voting Because... Honourable Mention. Professional Political/ Editorial. Honourable Mention (Oct 2015)
Magnum Photos & Photo London Graduate Award. Nomination. (April 2015)
Association of Photographers Open Award, Finalist. (Dec 2014)
International Photography Award. I'm Not Voting Because... Honourable Mention. Student / Political/ Editorial. (Oct 2014)
University of Westminster. Scholarship Award to study MA Photojournalism (2012 - 2014)
To find out more about Denise’s work, awards, and exhibitions, click here to visit her website.
Denise's book, featured in The Guardian supplement.

Denise with The Guardian Weekend supplement.

Denise's book, featured in The Guardian supplement.

Rachel Tomkins interviews subjects for The Guardian. Click the image to read the article.

i Paper featured Mum's not the word in it's printed and digital editions.

Mum's not the word was i Paper's Coffee Table Choice.

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