Love through the lens

A Mother’s Day portrait session with Lynn Christoffers is just what we need.


Mother’s Day is about honoring mothers and caregivers, of course, but it’s also about connection and love. In the Children’s Room at the West Tisbury library this past weekend, photographer Lynn Christoffers celebrated Mother’s Day doing what she does best — capturing the essence of people and the connection they have with their loved ones. While viewing Christoffers’ photos, you can almost see the oxytocin, or “love hormone,” as it’s sometimes referred to, vibrating between family members and friends.

“I love to see the happiness in the people who show up. I love to capture the love between them, and the pleasant moments for Mother’s Day,” Christoffers said. “For many people, these photos preserve their children at that time — that 5-year-old, or that 2-year-old. I want to make sure I catch that for them.”

Christoffers has offered free portraits in honor of Mother’s Day for years. “I think the first time I did this might have been as far back as 2016, with a break during COVID,” she said. “I’ve always focused on taking pictures of animals and people — especially children. Child energy is what I think we should all strive for.” Though she doesn’t have children herself, Christoffers has eight nieces and nephews, and 17 great-nieces and great-nephews: “I’ve enjoyed helping my siblings with their children, and I’ve always been interested in the mother-child relationship.”

Many come back year after year to get their photos taken. “Last year when we took your photos, you girls were sitting upside down!” Christoffers said to twins Daphne and Claire Hunt. The girls giggled. Christoffers remembers everyone, and really enjoys the yearly reunions. “I get to watch kids grow up.”

“We’ve come back every year since the girls were born,” Amber Hunt shared. This year, Claire wore her best Anna dress and Daphne wore her Elsa dress, both from the popular Disney movie “Frozen,” to have their portraits taken.

“We love Lynn,” Amber’s husband, J.T. Hunt added. “She’s wonderful, and it’s so beautiful that she does this.”

Christoffers isn’t new to the photography game. She has been showing her photography and mixed-media installations both in NYC and on Martha’s Vineyard since 1988. She graduated from NYU with a master of arts degree in studio art and photography. “I studied video, installation, and mixed media. After I got my degree, several of my fellow classmates and I formed a cooperative art gallery in Soho, where we showed our work for five or six years,” Christoffers said.

Christoffers’ photos have also appeared in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, Martha’s Vineyard Magazine, Cape Cod Life and Home, the Boston Globe, ASMP Bulletin, Vineyard Style, and Arts & Ideas magazine. Christoffers’ book projects include more than 300 color photos in “Victoria Trumbull’s Martha’s Vineyard,” and “Cats of Martha’s Vineyard,” published in 2013.

In “Cats of Martha’s Vineyard,” Christoffers took over 100 photos of cats and their human families in various locations. Her love, curiosity, and respect for animals is just as apparent in her photos of cats as it is in her portraits of humans. In the introduction Christoffers wrote, “Each cat becomes a star. Once we meet, it’s unconditional love … they shine for my camera.” And they do shine, as Christoffers was on the money, capturing the character of Island felines and the connection they have with their humans.

Though mothers, grandmothers, and children are often the main clientele at the Mother’s Day photo shoot, Christoffers is an equal-opportunity photographer, recognizing that love comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms. “I’ve taken photos of men and single people and grandfathers — pretty much anyone who wants their portrait taken,“ she said.

And it was no different this year. There was a steady stream of folks of all ages and combinations of family members waiting their turn. Christoffers snapped portraits of grandmother Barbara Morgan, her daughter Christina Walker, and her granddaughter Angel Walker; married couple Joyce and Tom Dresser, mom and son duo Denise Guy and Dylan Plath, Marjorie Pierce, who came by herself, sharing that she was planning on sending her photo to her many nieces and nephews; dad and daughter team Owen Willis and Dahlia; two West Tisbury library employees, Olivia Gately and Caroline Drogin, the Burke and Fullin family, and many more.

“This is our third time back,” Whitney Burke said. Burke’s family photo included her husband Keith Fullin, her mom Chris Burke, and her children Bo Fullin, Emery Fullin, and Camden Fullin. “We’ve embraced this as a family event. It’s so nice that we can all come together and get a family photo,” Whitney said.

Though Christoffers doesn’t turn the photos over in a day, she does make an effort to get the photos out as quickly as she can. After editing each photo, she sends them to folks in a JPEG through email, so they can share with others as they see fit.

“I’m so blown away by Lynn,” C.K. Wolfson, Christoffers’ assistant for the day, said. “She does this every year. For free. And there are so many people who come in. She is the most generous person I know.”



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