Light & Shadow #11

Birth — Pullman, WA 1981

I look at this as one of, if not the most poignant picture of my whole career. The fact that it’s the birth of my son has a lot to do with the feelings it elicits, but it’s a powerful photograph regardless of the personal connection.

The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is true. I don’t think I can wax eloquently enough to express my feelings about this picture except to say I always think of the unavoidable ‘polarities’ of life — the extremes along our scale of experience. Laughter and tears, courage and fear, beginning and ending…

As I was to experience the miracle of birth, what else would a photojournalist do but take pictures?

Things were moving pretty fast on the morning of July 3rd, 1981 as the nurses moved us into the delivery room. The moment of truth had arrived. My baby was about to make his debut. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I took a light meter reading and set my Leica accordingly. I was shaking like a leaf.

Oh crap! They turned the lights off!

The thing about photography is that if conditions change, you need to carefully analyze the situation and make appropriate adjustments.

So I guessed.

He’s a grown man with a son of his own now, but when I think back I can still feel my baby boy snuggled on my chest as together we took a nap.

It was wonderful.

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