This film was inspired by memories of a cousin of the father of Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell, Jan Troell's wife, who gathered the stories in her book entitled Att människan levde. The main character was the cousin's mother whose love for photography liberated her somehow from her alcoholic husband. Maria Larsson won a photo camera at a lottery and her fascination with photography was enhanced by an owner of a photo studio, who discovered her true visual talent and unique sensitivity and who taught her the magic of photography. Maria started to take photos of her children and neighbours and her first success was a photo published in a newspaper. As her passion developed, a slight feeling was born between her and the photographer, a feeling which could not be fulfilled. Responsible for a large family, Maria was unable to get away from her husband whom she somehow loved.
Once again, like in This Is Your Life and As White as in Snow, Troell returns to the early 20th century, the epoch he has a special sentiment for. With a broad and fascinating social background, he paints a psychologically nuanced portrait of a simple woman and the awakening of her artistic soul.