Amazing Photos Document Newborn Babies’ First Seconds After Birth

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 10, 2015   |   12:00PM   |   Paris, France

A photographer is getting international attention over a pictorial display that has been set up in Paris, France from now until March.

Every human being’s life starts at conception and ultrasound images display in stunning detail the miracle of life in the womb. Now, one photographer has embarked on a project to document the first seconds of human life after that amazing 9 month journey inside the womb.

The photographer, whose wife gave birth via Cesearian section, says parents rarely get to see those first few seconds after the baby emerges.  Christian Berthelot says when his wife underwent an emergency C-section to save both her and their son he felt like he was living in a parallel universe filled with confusion. So he set out to document those precious moments.


“Far from the clichés and platitudes, I wanted to show us, as we are when we are born,” Berthelot says.

“When I saw [my son] for the first time, he was bloodied and covered in this white substance called vernix,” Berthelot recalled of his first experience with a caesarean. “He was like a warrior who has just won his first battle, like an angel out of darkness. What a joy to hear him scream.

Huffington Post has more on his experience:

Berthelot gained access to the newborns besides his own thanks to Jean-Francois Morievnal, an obstetrician in the hospital where his son was born. According to Slate, the two had connected on their shared love of photography, and it was Morievnal who proposed the idea that Berthelot start a series of midwifery, particularly focused on caesarean births.

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Berthelot had to prepare: he trained in a surgical environment and sought permission from the doctors and mothers he’d be working with. The mothers receive a photo in return for their participation — a stunning image of their child’s birth. So far, 40 children have breathed their first few breaths in the presence of Berthelot’s lens.

The resulting photographs are at once graphic, heartening, suspenseful and gripping, capturing those rare moments in which the future hangs precariously, as if on a thread. The artist freezes newborn humans, caked in blood and gunk, beginning their lifelong journey, thus creating portraits for the youngest possible subjects. “All these photographs are for me, the first performance of a new human being,” the photographer said.

“Cesar” will be on view at the Circulation(s) festival in Paris, running until March 5, 2015. See a selection of Berthelot’s young models below, each image accompanied by the child’s name, date of birth, time in the world, and weight.