Quiet, Warm, Lights Down
    29 November 2019

    Quiet, Warm, Lights Down

    For four years, a Ukrainian photographer Yulia Sagan has been shooting the emergence of a new life—the childbirth

    Her own baby photobook starts with a black-and-white photo from the maternity hospital featuring newborn Yulia lying next to six other babies. For a long time, the woman believed that each of them saw their first day on earth, just like her. And when she realised this was not true for everybody, she took on birth photography—capturing families expecting a baby and the delivery itself. Thus, she says, the moments of the emergence of a new life are preserved not only in people’s memories but in their family photo stories as well.

    “My story started long ago. My dad was a photojournalist. We have plenty of albums and dad’s archive photos at home. When I visit, I always look through them.

    Once, turning the pages of the albums for the umpteenth time, I saw my own birth. Dad took a picture of me in the delivery room just after I saw the light.

    It was in the ’80s. Men were not allowed in maternity hospitals. But dad told them he had to deliver a story for the newspaper tomorrow so he needed to shoot. Back then, taking pictures of childbirth was akin to filming drawings at a high-security military facility. Such photos were taboo in Soviet society.

    The next day, the newspaper got out, and everyone learned that I had been born, that my story had begun.

    Only later did I realize that not everyone has such a photo. I’m one of the few.

    Delivery rooms have three rules to abide by: “Quiet. Warm. Lights down.” Nothing should break this sacred rite.

    I avoid anatomical details of childbirth, procedures, examinations, epidural anaesthesia. I capture emotional moments of a new person coming into the world. A woman giving birth is beautiful and sincere; men are emotional. The main frame is a newborn baby.

    This is his or her first day on earth.”

    [This publication was created with support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ukraine. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Norwegian government.]

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