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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Uhmmm...morbid spin on baby pics
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05/13/2016 08:01:32 AM · #1
I honestly don't know how to react because this to me is a totally bizarre situation. Yes I know the Victorians were into shooting their dead loved ones, but I didn't really think that trend still existed. Anyway someone posted on my FB page this morning a notice looking for volunteer photogs to take pics for an organization called NILMDTS and it's taking pics of families with...dead babies.

Morbid is the only word I can come up with. I'm sorry, but there is no other way to put it. I know people want closure after they've lost an infant or child, but isn't this just a little much?
05/13/2016 08:22:12 AM · #2
Not at all morbid. I can't understand why you would write this. 'Dead babies' = someone's child. You think they should just pretend the child never existed and move on...?

I think it's your posting that is 'a little much', not this organisation, the volunteers who work with them or the people who benefit from their services.
05/13/2016 08:34:09 AM · #3
On the other hand, if it is the grieving parents & family who want the photograph & they can find a photographer willing to do it, then I don't think it's any of my business. I can't sit in judgement on someone grieving a dead baby, or on anyone in the grieving process. The ceremonies & processes we have for dealing with death are so inadequate, so unsatisfying, that I support anything anyone can think of to help the survivors. I'm the last of my family. Death sucks.
05/13/2016 10:38:10 AM · #4
Well-put responses.
I'm not sure how I would react in such a situation. It's painful just to think about.

Originally posted by pixelpig:

On the other hand, if it is the grieving parents & family who want the photograph & they can find a photographer willing to do it, then I don't think it's any of my business. I can't sit in judgement on someone grieving a dead baby, or on anyone in the grieving process. The ceremonies & processes we have for dealing with death are so inadequate, so unsatisfying, that I support anything anyone can think of to help the survivors. I'm the last of my family. Death sucks.


Originally posted by Paul:

Not at all morbid. I can't understand why you would write this. 'Dead babies' = someone's child. You think they should just pretend the child never existed and move on...?

I think it's your posting that is 'a little much', not this organisation, the volunteers who work with them or the people who benefit from their services.
05/13/2016 11:52:00 AM · #5
I think it's a beautiful organization doing wonderful work. I have nothing but admiration for the folks who donate their time and services to this cause.
05/13/2016 05:09:17 PM · #6
I see the world much differently from most others, so not surprised by the offended-sounding feedback. Ok, maybe saying 'dead babies' is a little extreme, but I don't go in for the North American tendency to be so delicately 'oh mustn't offend anyone ever' PC on every topic under the sun. I say things as I see them, always have, always will. The local cemetery is jammed with headstones of children who died young, and I've asked a few family members how they coped. They shrugged and said they just buried their dead, no matter who it was, grieved them, then got on with life. I got a few odd looks when I mentioned this organization!

From what I've heard and seen from conversations with many people about this topic, it's one thing to have photos up in the house of the deceased, taken when they were alive, and quite another altogether to have up a photo of someone who was dead when the photo was taken.

Anyway, I still think this process would only exacerbate the grief instead of helping with the healing process. But if it makes people feel good to be a part of it, I'm sure there are many other organizations like this all over the world where those who want to volunteer the services can make their presence known.
05/13/2016 05:35:01 PM · #7
I tried to be a photographer for this organization, but they have to require malpractice insurance and I couldn't afford that. (My BFF had a stillborn baby and all she has of her child is a Polaroid of him. She told me about wishing she had more to remember him by... which is what spurred my interest.)

Anyway, so I applied to be a retoucher (they only allow BW images of the babies... but even still, some are disformed). I passed the test on the three images they sent me.

And I began.

Soon, Hubby began to recognize when I'd been retouching images. I was depressed.

The loss of a beloved baby affected me greatly and I ended up not being able to do that either.

I have great respect for the people to donate their time, talents, and... emotions to parents and family who are hurting.

But, I can definitely see how you think it's gross/morbid, Susan. I've never lost a baby, but I'm pretty sure I'd want a photograph. And a professional one would be better than a Polaroid.
05/13/2016 05:38:17 PM · #8
Originally posted by snaffles:

...

From what I've heard and seen from conversations with many people about this topic, it's one thing to have photos up in the house of the deceased, taken when they were alive, and quite another altogether to have up a photo of someone who was dead when the photo was taken....


I don't think the families display them in their homes. My friend has her Polaroid in a box upstairs. She rarely looks at it. But... she can if she wants to, because... she has it.

I think it helps to have it there... even if she never looks at it.

If she didn't have it, I think the loss would hurt more... there's no way to see her child... even if she wanted to. Without a photo.
05/13/2016 06:34:49 PM · #9
Thread from 2007 ...

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05/13/2016 06:57:13 PM · #10
And another thread from 2011
05/13/2016 07:10:46 PM · #11

I've been a retoucher for them for more than 8 years and am currently serving on the Digital Retouch Artist Review Board. This kind of retouching does seem odd to many people, but judging by the overwhelming number of requests from families, it is becoming more and more accepted.

One father who contacted me to retouch images of their stillborn son said that that was their son and they weren't going to act like he never existed. They feel that the loss of their child is no different than the loss of a child at any age. They do display several images in their home.

All that being said, I rarely tell people what I do, because I do know that many people find it unusual and yes, morbid.

And, if anyone IS interested, we are always looking for skilled DRA's, as the turnover of DRA's is fairly high, it is definitely not for everyone.
05/13/2016 07:30:23 PM · #12
I most certainly can speak from personal experience on this matter as I had a newborn die on Christmas Day in 1985.

Do I have photos of my darling son....Not one.

Do I wish I had known of an organization such as this one then and would I have availed myself of their service.... Most definitely.

Keeping a visual image of a loved one that you got to cherish for only a fleeting moment most definitely would have been a benefit for me over the years. Having images and opting not to look at them is a choice...something that does not occur when one does not have any images to look at (for whatever personal reasons)

Luckily for me, his twin sister survived and today occupies the greatest part of my heart and I will die a happy man for having had such a wonderful child.

It would seem that I lost and won at the same time.

Ray

Message edited by author 2016-05-13 19:32:13.
05/13/2016 07:48:45 PM · #13
Interesting site... Thanks 21_F.gif Snaffles for letting me know about it. On first glance, it does seem pretty morbid, but I've had some experience in my family of losing a child shortly after birth, and the parents of that child cherish anything they could get during that short time, most of all photographs. I just signed up to be a photo editor of that site.
05/13/2016 08:06:28 PM · #14
21.gif ecmguy, glad that some good has come of this!

And Ray...I had no idea that you had lost your son at birth, and you are so lucky to have Krista. ((hugs))
05/14/2016 02:34:39 PM · #15
I could not do this - emotionally - but I so admire photographers and others who are willing to give their time and talents in this way.

Message edited by author 2016-05-14 14:35:13.
05/15/2016 12:58:45 AM · #16
I was that photographer for my sister-in-law who had to deliver her stillborn child -- a boy they named Oliver. I wasn't planning on it nor was I prepared for it. We visited the hospital and were invited in to see the child. I had my 35mm camera in my bag with about 20 frames of black and white film remaining. Through tears, I took some of the most meaningful pictures I'll probably ever take. It was all very surreal. I printed several frames in the darkroom that were displayed at the child's service. She cherishes the pictures. With that backstory, I make no apologies sharing this here.
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05/15/2016 09:45:09 AM · #17
Originally posted by bvy:

...With that backstory, I make no apologies sharing this here.


Not criticizing any of the photogs who have done this type of photo already...if you read my OP you can see I was wondering why the parents would want such pics taken. Anyway question has now been answered.
05/15/2016 10:37:53 PM · #18
Coming at it from the other end of the age spectrum:
I brought my camera in it's bag to my father's funeral in the chapel. They had provided a viewing of my father's body in the casket for just the immediate family. (Jewish tradition does not allow for a viewing as in a wake.) I stayed behind with my father when my mother and sister left the room for a private moment and it was at this time I confronted my own resistance to photographing my dead father. I remember reasoning with myself that through heavy tears and tremors I would never have been able to hold the camera steady for a good shot so I never took the camera out of the bag. How I regret that decision now. There would have been no retouching for that picture but regardless of how it would have turned out it would have been a memento of my profound sorrow and loss and despite how morbid it sounds I would love to relive that moment again.
05/15/2016 11:42:14 PM · #19
Susan, I don't know if you have a child, but I find in many cases, when someone just can't understand any number of things a parent would do, that perspective often changes once they have their own. Whether it's matters of discipline, education, religion or taking a picture of your deceased child. To say that you can't understand the love a parent has for a child until you have your own, is the understatement of the century.
Working for a hospital system, I have come across this practice and these pictures many times.
05/16/2016 08:09:22 AM · #20
Originally posted by smardaz:

Susan, I don't know if you have a child, but I find in many cases, when someone just can't understand any number of things a parent would do, that perspective often changes once they have their own. Whether it's matters of discipline, education, religion or taking a picture of your deceased child. To say that you can't understand the love a parent has for a child until you have your own, is the understatement of the century.
Working for a hospital system, I have come across this practice and these pictures many times.


No I do NOT have children...largely in part cause from a very young age I had to answer the phone for my dad's practice, when it was still acceptable for patients to call their doctors at home. I had to be clinical myself, to disassociate myself from the anguish on the end of the line - and guess what, my dad was an OB/GYN, responsible for bringing new life into the world!

But after taking far too calls like this....

Caller: Is your dad there? It's Mrs So-and-so and I need to speak to him RIGHT NOW!!!
Me: 'I'm sorry he's not in at the moment, can I take a message?'
Caller: 'Yes tell it's Mrs So-and-so calling and I'M BLEEDING TO DEATH!!!!'
Me: 'OK Mrs So-and-so, I'll page him.'

Then, me to dad's pager: 'Dad, Mrs So-and-so just called and says she's bleeding to death. Can you call her?'

...I decided that there was no way I was going to have children, ever. Not with so much pain and trauma involved, and that was even before they were born. Can you blame me?
05/17/2016 08:04:51 AM · #21
I read your post 21_F.gif snaffles and my thought process took me in a different direction.

I wondered, what if we could take all of the horrors of wars and have our younger generations have an appreciation of the deaths, maiming and other atrocities associated with wars ... if only to convince them that they should not participate... wouldn't that be fantastic.

I can fully appreciate your personal views in this matter, but as you indicated earlier, you asked a question and got answers. From your perspective, this type of activity might be viewed as morbid and some of us offered a different perspective.

As for the last part of your comment, if I had to withhold participation in all of those life experiences that could have lead to pain and trauma, then I fear I never would have loved, married, had children or cast caution to the wind in many of the endeavours I did embark upon.

Have a wonderful day my dear friend.

Ray

05/17/2016 12:40:09 PM · #22
Originally posted by RayEthier:

I read your post 21_F.gif snaffles and my thought process took me in a different direction.

I wondered, what if we could take all of the horrors of wars and have our younger generations have an appreciation of the deaths, maiming and other atrocities associated with wars ... if only to convince them that they should not participate... wouldn't that be fantastic.

H.L. Mencken on War
Oscar Wilde on War
05/17/2016 04:55:14 PM · #23
Originally posted by RayEthier:

...As for the last part of your comment, if I had to withhold participation in all of those life experiences that could have lead to pain and trauma, then I fear I never would have loved, married, had children or cast caution to the wind in many of the endeavours I did embark upon.


Keep in mind, Unca Raymee, that I was probably about 10 years when I made the conscious choice to remain childfree. So I was a little short on life experience at the time. However I cannot say I regret my decision. And I have never said anything about witholding participation in other life experiences that lead to pain in trauma....after all I've been here neary 10 years, haven't I? ;-)

I certainly don't live life in fear or sheltered away from anything that causes me harm. But nor do I actively seek out situations that WOULD certainly cause me intense pain and trauma. When I take risks they are calculated ones, or at least as much as can be done. As an adult woman who's had to live with ASD her whole life, having to interpret what everyone else takes for granted on pretty much a daily basis, I stand by my decisions.

Still, that didn't stop me from meeting someone very special to me while I was in BC - a situation that caught us both off guard, I might add, as neither of us were looking for anyone. We are having a long-distance relationship, speaking on the phone almost every night. And yes, I am weighing pros and cons. But that's another matter altogether.

Message edited by author 2016-05-17 19:05:19.
05/17/2016 10:25:45 PM · #24
Goes back to turn-of-the-century. Check out Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip: http://www.wisconsindeathtrip.com/

Amazing compilation of news clips/photos from that era including pictures of deceased children. https://www.flickr.com/photos/whsimages/sets/72157602476458793/

Message edited by author 2016-05-17 22:49:06.
05/17/2016 11:57:12 PM · #25
Originally posted by snaffles:

I was probably about 10 years when I made the conscious choice to remain childfree. So I was a little short on life experience at the time.


I am fascinated by this, Susan. One of our offspring does not want children.

Can you tell me more about your decision... made at ten years of age... and carried out until now, please?

I really want to understand this. It's so foreign to me... wanting to have a child as soon as I married. We have four... and none are married although two are older than I was when we married.

What made you make that decision then... and what made you stick to it until now?

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