Photo of Stillborn Baby Wins Aussie Photo Contest

Judges in Australia’s most prestigious photography contest have awarded top prize to a photo of a father holding his stillborn baby. The photo in question is the first photo above on the left.

Such a photo has never won before due to the controversial nature of the subject. The other photos above were also winners in various categories in the Head On Festival competition.

The video below provides more details about the award.

If the photo of the father and his baby was taken and entered in the competition without the father’s permission, then the photographer deserves severe castigation IMO, although the video makes it sound as though the family had agreed to the photo.

It is hard to imagine why a father would agree to publicize such a personally difficult moment, but who knows?

Gil Meydan, the photographer who took the shot of the stillborn baby freely admits in the video that he sought impact rather than beauty in his shot, and he speaks in a rather matter of fact manner when discussing the stillborn child. That is because he is a medical photographer at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, so he is used to viewing scenes of stillborn babies.

Moshe Rosenzveig, the Head On Festival Director, concurs that beauty occupies a second place goal for the photography in his festival. He too emphasizes emotional intensity as the photographer’s primary objective when shooting the photos.

Perhaps it is just me, but the two men sound somewhat like a paparazzo does when he stalks a celebrity for that hot shot that will make him a bundle of money.

Should photographic art be judged on its shock value, for beauty or for some other attribute? IMO shock value simply for the shock it imparts to the viewer has little value at all. Once people are used to photos of stillborn babies photographers will be forced to rachet up the controversial nature of their photography in order to get noticed.

What comes next, photographic art of an abortion in progress?

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13 comments

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  2. Krista

    This photograph is amazing! it shows the love and acceptance of the situation. there is no reason it should be controversial. we see pictures of babies all the time. some of which are those who endured much violence and yet the public scoures over them. this man has literally witnessed an act of god from beginning to end. conception to death. it is a beautiful picture. my condolences go out to the family for their loss but i feel etremely lucky to have seen the emotion of this father at that moment.

    • Well, Krista, I am so glad you are so open minded. Unfortunately, I have not yet arrived where it is okay to enter photos of the deceased in photo contests. Guess I am just a Neanderthal in that area.

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  4. Wow I’m literally the only reply to this awesome read.

  5. Erin N

    This is a beautiful picture and I am saddnend on how this article was written.
    There is nothing wrong with any photo of a father and his beautiful child at any moment. This is a photo of one of the very few moments of bonding this father will ever have with his child. He was robbed of all the dreams he had with his child in it.
    The family as it the photographer mentioned had no issues with this being displayed because they are proud of him.
    I too am a proud parent of a Stillborn. I too have no issues with sharing his photos which were taken in our most intense time of grief. Why because he existed and I am proud of him.
    I guess you wonder why would the family agree to share such a moment? To stop people looking at this as a taboo and rather looking at this as a beautiful child no matter what gestation, who was dearly loved and longed for by his father who does not care for what their child looks like to others as all he sees is he loved child.
    This is to help people who are looking at this see this picture as a child that had a purpose even if you do not understand it.
    This picture is to help people stop looking at this as SOMETHING dead but SOMEONE that has a NAME, a family, to see this is a child who has entered and left this world with short bitter sweet memories for the family.
    This picture is to help people to look at it as child whose footprints on the world in their precious short life are so big by being part of a beautiful picture that won an award raising issues like the one this columnist has.

    My condolences to the family who’s little one passed away too soon but a big thank you and your child on behalf of parents who have lost a child to stillbirth for sharing your moment that we know is all to well and hopefully help others see the bigger picture of our precious ones lives.

    3 babies every day in Australia are stillborn. That is approx 1500 families who are affected.
    In the last 5 years that is approx 7500 babies died and families affected. Wake up open your feelings. It isnt uncommon for a photo like this to exisit. I hope this moment never happens to you.

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  10. I am a photographer and as such understand the controversial nature of some photographic opportunities. I agree that he definitely needed permission. IF he did in fact gain permission before entering, I can see no fault. America sees worse violent images in the news. Such as the dead bodies in the streets during coverage of the Haiti Earthquake. Stillborn children is a sad and horrible thing to experience. As a mother of two children, I am blessed to not experience this, but I know another photographer and mother who has. They don’t hide what happened. They publicly have photos in their social media profile and openly discuss the pain they went though. Although it may eventually desensitize viewers, greater awareness needs to happen in order to fund research to better understand what causes such painful losses. What better way to reach people than through photography?

  11. anne

    This article is discussing to say the least..The photographer has captured the fathers last moments with his beloved child.

  12. kathy

    I had friends, years back.. that had lost their baby hours after birth. They had made sure, once the extremley critical nature of the baby was known to have photos taken. They wanted to capture that very limited,yet blessed time they had with their child. While I admit, it was a little startling to see the photos as first, I wholeheartidly understood their intentions. I have always felt priveledged to have been given the opportunity to see and hear about their lovely child in the only way they could share.

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