THE ART OF PHOTOJOURNALISM Image of the Month
Baby Feet by Roger Bamber, 18th February 1993, The Guardian.
By Alan Sparrow
Roger Bamber's caption tells that the picture shows Baby J and the photograph was taken on February 9th at King's College Hospital, London, adding: “To Anna and an unknown father (believed to have fair skin and blond hair), a much-loved son”.
The story was that this child was among the first of what is now a common practice - a single mother choosing to use an anonymous sperm donor in order to start her own family - but this mum was one of the very first women in the UK to use this method.
She was a trailblazer, and she was so happy with her new arrival she agreed to do the picture to raise public awareness.
The pioneering mother chose not to be identified in any way - in 1993 the practice still carried a considerable stigma. To portray the caring, sharing single mother Anna and her week-old son “J”, Roger decided to hide both their identities by just showing the mum’s hands holding the baby’s feet.
Over 2,800 children were born to sperm donors in 2019, and according to a recent report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) 70,00 babies have been born as a result of donor eggs, sperm or embryos since 1991.
Sadly, Bamber died in September 2022, just as he was creating a book of his work. He had been a photographer since the 1960s and worked for both the tabloid press and the broadsheets. His first Fleet Street employment was with the Daily Mail in 1965, but after four years he moved to the newly launched Sun where he worked for 19 years leaving then to freelance. He felt that he could express himself better in the broadsheets.
His contribution of witty, striking images was welcomed with open arms by the Guardian. Bamber was a very rare photographer in that he was the only one to have won Photographer of the Year while working for both the tabloid press (The Sun in 1983 ) and the broadsheets (The Guardian in 1992.
An exhibition of his work was displayed at the Brighton Museum and attracted over 40,000 visitors. The exhibition was to coincide with the book, Out of the Ordinary, which was published in March 2023 and is now among the Amazon steady sellers, available at Waterstones and has been restocked several times at the Brighton Museum.