A Child is Born

“By 1957, I had already managed to photograph infinitesimal details, an umbilical cord, an index finger. Eight years later, technological development had come up with a wide-angle lens that could be attached to the endoscope. Now, a face appeared suddenly from out of the dark.”

A Child is Born follows the everyday life of an expecting couple, and lets us see how the foetus develops over the nine-months of pregnancy. All illustrated with Lennart Nilsson’s unique pictures.

The first edition was published in October 1965 by Albert Bonniers förlag in Stockholm, and written by Axel Ingelman-Sundberg and Claes Wirsén. Today, A Child is Born is one of the world’s bestselling photo books and has influenced millions of people’s attitudes to life and childbirth.

In 1976, a second updated edition of the acclaimed book was published, with new photographs of the development of the foetus, taken with an endoscope. Thanks to new technology, Lennart Nilsson could further develop his project of documenting the human being from within.

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A completely re-edited version of A Child is Born was published in 1990, in which Lennart Nilsson has used the techniques he developed over the years. Lars Halmberger, part of the team behind the first successful IVF child in Sweden, was the new author. The theme is the same as in earlier editions, but recent progress in medicine and technology called for a radical rewrite.

Many of the photographs are new, and the book is the result of years of intense work on documenting the first minutes, hours, days and weeks when a new human being is born. This edition was published in a total of 17 countries.

A Child is Born is the work that inscribed Lennart Nilsson in the history books as something far more than merely a talented photographer. His pictures of a child growing slowly inside the womb are as fascinating today as when they were first published in the mid-1960s.

Lennart Nilsson single-handedly explored the technology he needed for his groundbreaking work. In order to show the development of the foetus, he used macro lenses, light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and extreme wide-angle endoscopy.

“You have to go on and on until you succeed with something, not least when it comes to photography.”