Recording a Child’s First Steps.

The photograph that was never taken.

Both Calvino and Sontag talk about “the passion of new parents for framing their offspring in the sights” (Calvino 222). According to Calvino, “[o]ne of the first instincts of parents, after they have brought a child into the world, is to photograph it.” Parents feel the need to follow a child’s every step with the camera, as if the memory of each individual stage of a child’s development could be replaced and erased by the following stages. Sontag adds that “[n]ot to take pictures of one’s children, particularly when they are small, is a sign of parental indifference” (8).

The photograph that I did not post represents the photograph that is “missing” from the documentation of my own first steps. I remember vividly that, when I was going through our family photo albums, I would ask my parents why there was a picture of my younger brother on the day of his birth but none of me immediately after I was born. They answered that on that day there was an unusually high number of births in that specific hospital, so the nurse was busy and must have forgotten about us. I would not say that I took that as a “sign of parental indifference,” but to the young child that I was when I asked about the non-existing photograph, and asked repeatedly, it did feel like something was missing, that I lacked this one thing that every other child had.


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