Monday, September 27, 2010

The first days of human life

If there is one lesson in life that continues to get hammered into my daily existence, it's that life will unravel on its own time and on its own terms.

Lex J. Lee entered my life a little earlier than expected. In fact, the Saturday he was born, my wife and I had plans to get things ready for the baby and had dinner reservations for Sunday.

Labor kicked in, and off we went to the hospital. I frantically installed a baby car seat while my wife packed a few items for her hospital bag. I also grabbed some of my camera gear, because I had planned to document the birth of my son. I wondered if I could stay calm and shoot in what is supposed to be an emotion-laden moment.

Once we got to the hospital, we were told the baby was coming that day. After that, it was a whole bunch of waiting until go time. I guess every case is different, but for the most part, I think there is a whole lot of waiting for most people. Luckily, there were plenty of college football games to watch on tv.

12 hours later, the little guy was fist-pumping and out of the womb. I wanted to document the birth of a child, but at some point, the delivering doctor and nurse made me be a more active participant in the process. Did I miss some shots, yes. Do I regret it, no.

Labor was a fascinating process, albeit a bloody one. I will spare you the gory details, but it was a pretty interesting and amazing experience. To think that I witnessed not just the birth of my child but in some sense the way every single person throughout the entire course of human history (minus C-section babies) enters the world was mind-boggling.

When I saw my son for the first time, I didn't know what to think. I looked at him. He cried. I snapped some pictures. He opened one of his eyes. I took some more pictures. I wasn't sure exactly what to think or do. My mind was racing with thoughts that refused to be organized. So I just started counting his fingers and toes. I guess I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Once I got to ten toes and fingers, I was stuck again. I realized what was happening and decided right then and there to cast off all preconceived notions of what a parent is supposed to do and what I've been brainwashed to believe the birth of a child is supposed to be like. I was going to experience this my way. And for me, a big part of that is photography.

Because I went into the delivery room knowing that I wanted to shoot this in black and white, I constantly scanned my surroundings for compositions with contrast. Oddly enough, when I think back to the birth of my child, black and white images play back in my head.

But since we live in a color world, I had to take a few images to reflect that as well.

Welcome to the world, Lex. You will grow up to know the sound of a camera's shutter like the beat of your own heart. For that I apologize in advance, but should you be interested in photography(during the downtime of your training for the NFL), Daddy has a DSLR waiting for you.

Hopes? Expectations? Fears? I suppose there is a lot of nervous energy swirling around, but more than anything, I just hope my son grows up healthy and I don't mess this kid up too much.

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