oh my god.
June 12, 2002 1:36 PM   Subscribe

oh my god. what's worse... retouching photos of 38 week stillborns for a living, or the fact that there's some sort of demand for it?
posted by jcterminal (29 comments total)
I think Adobe is using this site in their marketing of the new Photoshop 7 and the Healing Brush.
posted by clang at 1:45 PM on June 12, 2002

God, that's insane. And clang, you're going to hell :)
posted by GriffX at 1:46 PM on June 12, 2002

To be fair, he doesn't do it for a living:

This site is not about making money. It is about providing a service for people that have a unique need.
The process of retouching these photos can be time consuming however. Therefore, in lieu of a set price,
which may be burdensome to some but fine for others, I accept donations to help cover my
time and my expenses.

People need different things to allow them to heal. It may seem strange to us, but if it helps, I see no harm in it.
posted by ColdChef at 1:46 PM on June 12, 2002

This reminds me of so many 'What's the difference between X and a dead baby?' jokes...
posted by esch at 1:49 PM on June 12, 2002

It doesn't seem all that different than the act of an undertaker cleaning up a corpse with a bit of wax and makeup (I've been watching Six Feet Under).

But you'd think that the guy would do a better job. They look like he just set the paint brush to pink and went to town.
posted by aladfar at 1:57 PM on June 12, 2002

Hey, whatever works. Fine. But I agree aladfar, the quality of the retouching is what is truly disturbing. jct-What the hell were you searching for anyway?
posted by anathema at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2002

It doesn't seem all that different than the act of an undertaker cleaning up a corpse with a bit of wax and makeup.
But how many people display photos of their dead relatives? I mean, photos taken after they have died? That is the vaguely creepy part.
posted by mapalm at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2002

Ummm... wow. I'd like to be really jaded right now, but Lord that before and after section really takes it out of one. Possibly the most disturbing and thought-provoking thing I've seen in a while.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2002

i don't understand people that get all worked up over stillborns, i mean, it's not like you knew them, or had even seen them. you are not disqualified from having another baby. i mean, i know it must suck because you were probably really excited about the baby, but you were just excited about the idea of having a baby, not that baby... i am, of course, dead on the inside though.
posted by rhyax at 2:11 PM on June 12, 2002

This is just twisted. It gave me the creeps knowing I am looking at a dead baby.
posted by sahrens428 at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2002

i don't understand people that get all worked up over stillborns, i mean, it's not like you knew them, or had even seen them.

I'm going to assume from this that you are not a parent yourself. You don't always have to know someone to mourn for them. But, you know that. I, myself, was "dead on the inside" like this once, too. But, when all of my friends starting having kids, I saw the other side of it. You will, too.

And, FWIW, people have for centuries commemorated stillborns and created likenesses of the dead. It's only recently that it's fallen out of practice. See "The Others" for more on this.
posted by ColdChef at 2:22 PM on June 12, 2002

This looks a good deal like the still born baby doll site that was discussed a few months ago. Before anyone freaks out, read the old thread's comments to see that although somewhat odd to us that have never experienced it, for some it's an appropriate coping mechanism.

Before anyone starts calling these people freaks, try to see it from their perspective (I have no idea what it is like, but I'm certain it's crushing to go through this).
posted by mathowie at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2002

I take it back. After going back and making the mistake of looking at the before-and-after photos I'm thinking this guy does a great job.
posted by anathema at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2002

...it's not like you knew them...

I imagine someone with a uterus would have a much more intimiate connection with a developing child, and might disagree with your observation.
posted by piskycritter at 2:26 PM on June 12, 2002

Memepool had a bunch of links from this topic Monday.
posted by GaelFC at 2:32 PM on June 12, 2002

"I mean, photos taken after they have died? That is the vaguely creepy part. "

or 36 weeks after. ugh.

guess since he doesn't do it for money, it's a hobby?!?!

posted by jcterminal at 2:56 PM on June 12, 2002

Photographing the dead is not new, this interesting report titled 'Memento Mori' discusses the practice in the 19th century of photographing the dead, including examples. *Cue spooky music*
posted by insomnyuk at 3:12 PM on June 12, 2002

For some more historical perspective on this issue...
posted by evanizer at 3:28 PM on June 12, 2002

Of course, it's a hobby. One can equate this to digital taxidermy, albeit one in a human form. And a good deal of taxidermists happen to be hobbyists. Some of them become drawn to it largely because they are interested in preserving the spirit or corporeal beauty of an animal that was once dead.

The people behind this site are trying to keep the spirit of these kids alive through Photoshop doctoring. They aren't digging up graves and pulling a Norman Bates on us. They aren't assembling body parts and creating a Frankenstein monster. If such a practice allows people to come to terms with their grief, then I see nothing wrong with it. It may not be pretty. In fact, I was downright queasy when checking out the before and after photos. But if someone wants to offer a service that allows one to cope, I applaud it. We frequently take for granted that we will eventually die on this earth and that the decay process isn't exactly a pretty one. For any person, whether it be a skillful embalmer or the guys behind these photos, I have nothing but admiration at the determination to pull this off. That kind of passion helps people through one of the most terrible emotions on the human spectrum: namely, loss. I know that I sure as hell couldn't do that.

(And, yes, like many here, I offer the full disclaimer that I too have been watching Six Feet Under. :) )
posted by ed at 3:29 PM on June 12, 2002

Damn, rhyax, did you actually read what you were writing?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2002

I design medical websites for a living, and this type of thing is not uncommon. Most of the hospital newborn photo services on most hospital website offer these services. They photos are used in medical records and some of the parents actually want a photo.

I had a company pitch me their services when my old job was looking for a new photo service. This was one of their features and they actually passed around a photo of a stillborn baby to show what they can do. I was stunned but I was really stunned in the professional manner they acted in. They do this for a living and while most of us really cringe, it's done in a respectful manner.
posted by mkelley at 4:45 PM on June 12, 2002

What really hit me was the photo of the father cradling the child and the mother reaching out to touch him. This is the same way I held my child (thankfully still with us) in one of our first photos together and continue to to this day.

While I'd like to go all apeshit on some of the remarks made here, I'm sure it won't mean much until you have held your own. Hopefully someday you will get to experience it. When I see my daughter tonight, I will hug her the same way.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:48 PM on June 12, 2002

A friend of mine sent out "birth" announcements when her baby was stillborn last year. The announcements had a picture of the baby, the date she was born and died (same day). It was a disturbing item to receive in the mail, but I understand my friend's motivation -- she wanted to mark the existence of her baby.

These pictures might be gruesome to us, but I can completely understand how they would be valued by the parents.
posted by Badmichelle at 6:44 PM on June 12, 2002

The world continues to be weird me out on a daily basis.
posted by dopamine at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2002

i don't understand people that get all worked up over stillborns, i mean, it's not like you knew them, or had even seen them. you are not disqualified from having another baby.

Until you go through a pregnancy as a parent, I don't think you have any idea about what an emotionally powerful experience it is. Finding out a baby is coming; seeing the child in a sonagram; hearing the heartbeat for the first time; feeling a kick; reading stories so the child learns your voice; enduring the agonizing final days before labor ... the relationship is real well before you meet face-to-face. Even for a bystander (i.e. dad) like me.

After having gone through one pregnancy, one of the things that creeped me out about the birth of my second and third sons was knowing how big, active, and responsive they are while in the womb in the last two months before birth. There isn't much difference between a kid at full-term birth and two weeks earlier. In the womb, a child in the ninth month is alert enough that if a waistband around the mother's tummy is bothersome, the child will kick at it until she adjusts it. The child also can hear well -- my third son was always most active in the womb when his older brothers were within earshot.

I've seen a few of these sites by parents who are grieving a stillborn child, and some of them are by people who have great difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a child to term. In many cases, the loss of the child is coupled with the knowledge it might have been their last and best chance to bear a child.

I don't think the possibility to have more kids mitigates the pain and grief of a stillborn child at all, any more than it would ease the loss of a six-month-old. These aren't clones; each one has personality and potential that will never be replicated. Though these retouched photos make me squeamish, I can understand why a parent would want something that shows their child (and loss) are real.
posted by rcade at 8:11 PM on June 12, 2002

I've been there, twice. The pictures stirred up bad memories... then to scroll back down and read the recklessness in the comments. Unbelieveable.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 9:48 PM on June 12, 2002

One of my biggest nightmares being a new parent is losing my child. I've heard it said somewhere (a movie most likely) that parents have the worst imaginations for it. In any case, I would most likely just keep whatever pictures of my daughter that I had currently and NOT touch her up if anything ever happened.

Not something I like to think on very often. . .
posted by SentientAI at 5:59 AM on June 13, 2002

rcade: you expressed my own feelings better than I could have.

My wife and I have been through a couple of miscarriages, and unless you've been there it's difficult to understand how much of a loss it is. So, I'll take the high road and attribute some of the comments in this thread to immaturity rather than nastiness.
posted by groundhog at 6:21 AM on June 13, 2002

I agree with a lot of the comments that this seems outright creepy at first blush. But once you imagine that for many of these parents, they may have only *one* picture of their dead child, and that having that picture look a bit better may help them hurt even a tiny bit less at the loss of that child, well, it seems actually pretty cool to me.

I also understand how people who haven't had a child, much less lost one, might be unable to understand what's really going on here. Take a moment and try to fathom the level of hopes and dreams that perish at the stillbirth of a child, and perhaps you might begin to learn to be more sensitive.
posted by beth at 3:14 PM on June 13, 2002

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