The birth of a child is a joyous and beautiful moment, but of course a scene of blood and gore. In his series “Cesar”, French photographer Christian Berthelot captures, using Caravaggioesque lighting, babies in their first moments of life after they are brought into the world via caesarean section.
What inspired you to take these pictures?
When my son was born, I was in a parallel world – only life mattered. I was a dad who accompanied his wife for the birth of their first child, so naturally I wanted all to be well and my son to be healthy; I was a father like the others. In the operating room, the parents do not see what is happening on the other side of the operative field: we hear and we wait, we imagine. And then I get there, and it is the first time we see our baby.
How did this photographic project get off the ground?
This adventure began almost by chance. A week after the birth of my child, I met Jean-François Morienval, an obstetrician in the hospital where my son was born. He loved photography, he knew I was a photographer and he wanted to discuss. About six months later, he asked me if I would take photographs of the profession of midwifery in the operating room, and if I would make caesarean photographs… I immediately said yes.
What has been the reaction to your photos?
I know there are people who react very badly, who find them disgusting. They tell me that I do not have the right to show children covered in blood, vernix and all; some even told me that the images are not real. This is absurd; children are not born in cabbages or roses. But there are those who are fascinated by my work; I give them the opportunity to observe in detail the violence of birth. What has this experience taught you? My perspective on the birth has changed. I discovered the dangers of birth. It is for this reason that I have decided to show the beginnings of a new human being.