This Image of a Human Placenta Looks Like the Tree of Life

All images by Sarah Boccolucci. Used with permission.

There’s an image on the LooksLikeFilm Facebook group that has been creating quite a bit of interest. The photo is by photographer Sarah Bocculucci–she’s a birth photographer,  has been studying photography since high school, and became really interested in it once her career as a professional dancer came to an end due to injuries. “I love all types of photography and have recently taken film photography up again- talk about humbling,” Sarah states.

For Sarah, becoming a mother was the most important and most transformative day of her life. “It may be hard for some people to understand why someone would want pictures during a time that is very vulnerable, often messy, and extremely intimate, but as a mother of four I totally understand the importance,” says Sarah. “The photos may not be ones you pull out when company comes over but they tell the story of a life. Birth isn’t a subject everyone is comfortable talking about but ask a 90 year old woman in a nursing home her birth stories and she can tell you them.”

Phoblographer: How have you been able to balance both a work and personal life doing this and basically having to be on call at times?

Sarah: Being on call is tough!! You basically are glued to your phone, take your camera everywhere, drive places separately in case you have to leave, have a back-up plan for your back-up plan and a bunch of childcare options. The childcare part is the hardest because I am asking people to watch my young kids, but I can’t give them a date, time, or how long I will be. It is a tough sell. For this season in my life I only take one client a month. Once my kids are older I will take more clients, but this is what works for me and my family right now.

Phoblographer: So talk to us about the placenta photo, what made you want to shoot it?

Sarah: Most of the births I have attended the parents are asked if they would like to see their placenta. When parents say yes, it is held up in a bowl full of blood and they are shown where the baby lived, which side was attached to the mom and which side the baby felt. I always feel like this doesn’t really show them how beautiful the placenta can be, both abstract and organic. When parents have me encapsulate the placenta for them I always wash the blood away and take a photo so they can really see it. They are really an incredible organ, and each one is unique.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about your creative vision making this image, you made it look a lot like a tree of life.

Sarah: Before taking the photo I washed the placenta with water and was careful not to take too much of the blood out of it, so the vessels would be noticeable. I wish I could say that a lot of thought was put into the positioning or intention but honestly, there wasn’t. I made sure blood wasn’t surrounding it and then moved it near some lovely window light. I liked how round this one was and I pulled the umbilical cord down and they just naturally end up looking like trees.