Lennart Nilsson, Pioneering Photographer of the Miracle of Life

Real Alternatives serves residents of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana by providing free, non-judgmental, life-affirming crisis pregnancy centers. The state partner organization also offers counseling and parenting support services. To date, approximately 300,000 women have accessed Real Alternatives’ help in these three states. In early 2017, the world lost a revered figure with the death of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson at age 94.

In the 1960s, Nilsson took groundbreaking pictures of babies still in the womb. The highly detailed images, including facial close-ups, illustrated the cycle of human development before birth in ways that the public had never seen. Lennart Nilsson began the project in the early 1950s using specialized electron microscopes and other equipment. After 12 years of work, he published the photos in Life magazine, then in A Child Is Born, a book that became an international success, quickly going through five Swedish editions and appearing in 25 other languages, including English.

Although Nilsson never received any medical or scientific training, the government of Sweden honored him a few years before his death with a lifetime achievement award for his pursuit and transmission of knowledge. Pregnancy support centers, social service agencies, and maternity homes greatly used Lennart Nilsson’s book as a tool to show clients the development and the humanity of the pre-born child.

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