In my role as a NICU photographer I photograph many moments I want to share. I hear many stories I want to share. Alas, they are not my moments and not my stories. I am also bound by contract with the hospital not to share pictures or identifying information. Sometimes, though, there is a moment or a family that really hits me. While I cannot share images the way other photographers do, I can tell you about my experience.
This is for the young NICU father I met last week.
I have this picture of you gently caressing your tiny daughter's foot through her incubator. Every bit of your right arm and hand that is visible in this picture is covered with ink. It's a beautiful juxtaposition of toughness and gentleness.
I have other pictures of you holding your daughter, just barely five pounds. She looks especially small in your arms. Your face is so soft and tender. It looks as though your heart lives outside your body in this tiny person.
I know from spending time with you that you are tender and compassionate. I saw that when you were with your daughter and her mother. I saw you surrender to both of them in this experience. I saw you allow yourself to be vulnerable. With a stranger (me) in the room.
I also noticed that you look like a total badass.
You have the appearance of the kind of person popular entertainment suggests is not worth of trust. I don't know anything about you beyond what I saw in the NICU during the short time we were together. From that I can say that I've seen the best in humanity. You were completely connected to your daughter. You were kind to and supportive of her mother. With me you were gracious and grateful.
Thank you for having the courage to show your true colors. Your little girl is fortunate to have you in her life. I know you will be behind her in every challenge she faces.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.