Sanctuary

January 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Photo by Kathy Phillips, U.S. National Archives. Public domain.

A young father bottle-fed his 15-day-old son in our waiting room. The son had a rare syndrome and the bottle was fitted to his condition. Milk was spilling out. The father kept on feeding, talking to his son and wiping his chin.

They had arrived from a smaller hospital the day before. The father seemed uneasy about the scheduled photography of his son. Many congenital syndromes results in very distinct features and his son was no exception. Unlike most local hospitals, we see a lot of kids with different syndromes at the national hospital. I greeted the father and congratulated him on his firstborn.

In the studio I placed them both on a large mattress, so he could comfort his son while I shot full-body photos and close-ups of some of his facial features. I talked to the boy all the time to maintain his attention. The normal things you say to a baby. When they left the father was much more at ease. “Thank you,” he said.

I arrived at the children’s neurosurgical ward to photograph a 1-year-old boy with another serious syndrome. His mother didn’t know any Norwegian or English and looked very apprehensive.

The boy had both limited motoric function and facial expression, so it was hard to tell at first how much of what was going on he sensed. But when I took the first photo his face changed slightly to reveal a hint of a smile. “You sure have a  great smile,” I said and took another photo.

I needed profile photos as well, but that turned out to be hard. Whenever I moved, he turned his face to me and kept on smiling.

By the time I finally got the photos and left, his mother was smiling too.

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