After eight years and endless attempts to have a child, Andreas and Jasmin from Switzerland decided to ask a woman from the United States to carry their baby. Their son Levi is born through surrogacy - genetically theirs, but grown in an adopted womb, that of a woman - Beth - who found it important to give life to someone who wouldn’t have existed otherwise.
Their decision came after they tried everything; embryo transfer, hormone treatment, egg retrieval, sperm donation and 12 x general anaesthetic. When nothing worked, there were adoption plans. They had hoped and failed so many times. They felt depressed and betrayed by their own bodies, yet were ashamed to talk about it even with close friends.
In surrogacy, the most primal need of human procreation and modern science lie so close together. Yet the idea of a child conceived in a lab, growing inside another mother, stirs up emotions and forces us to talk about medicine, ethics, philosophy and law.
Our aim with this fundraising campaign is to publish a photo book – Be Hers Be Mine – so that we can tell the story of Jasmin and Andreas and to have a conversation about such sensitive yet controversial human issue.
WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH SURROGACY?
Surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland and in many other European countries and is being discussed controversially. There are religious arguments and ethical considerations. There are US laws, Swiss laws and EU laws, which all differ on even the simplest question: who is the real mother?
Still, many parents choose this path to have a baby, simply bypassing local laws and politics. This calls for an open conversation on the social and political level - because problems often arise when things are left in the dark.
These are difficult questions that call for well-thought-of answers. That's why we want to create a space where people might start thinking about surrogacy not in terms of whether is right or wrong all together, but from a standpoint of why it is the right choice for a growing number of people.
WHAT'S IN THE BOOK?
We combine elements of reportage photography, portraiture, archival photos, interviews and documents to show an in-depth view of surrogacy. There will be layers of content to take you on a journey throughout the book and the story.
The book is to illustrate the emotions involved in the process of a couple unable to conceive a child and having to bring another woman into their relationship to fulfil such an intimate need and a vital part of womanhood.
Through pictures and text we want to go through this painful yet beautiful process together with the couple and the child-bearing mother and her family.
Our challenge as photographers was to capture the complexity of the situation and present it to the audience to give them an emotional insight into this process.
Rather than drawing a single conclusion, we chose an open-ended and artistic approach to this topic, because we believe it is the best way to show its complexity.
The book will be written in English with German translations.
WHO ARE WE?
We are Tom Licht and Djamila Grossman - a couple and photographer duo - from Zurich, Switzerland. Separately, we have published photo books and presented our work in various exhibitions. We have been around the world on magazine and newspaper assignments and have each photographed several personal projects. However, we have never worked together - until this story fell into our laps.
We were there for Levi's birth and spent time with the families in the weeks before and after. Hunkered down in their kitchen and hotel room in Appleton, Wisconsin, we spent days on end shooting photos and talking with Andreas and Jasmin and the other couple Beth and Trevor about the reasons that led them to pursue surrogacy.
It has been a touching journey for us and we feel incredibly lucky for the trust, warmth and openness we have experienced from both families. We would feel even more lucky if we got to share this tale with you and many others.
For more infos about our work and career, please see our Kickstarter Profile here.
WHATS THE TIMELINE OF THIS PROJECT?
Once the campaign ends, we will go into higher gear. We will give our friends over at Kehrer Publishing the green light to go ahead with the book. We have already been working closely with them up until this point and we will continue to do so until after the publication.
Next step is to hire a graphic designer - we already have a few in mind. This will be an amazingly creative process, which we are really looking forward to. How to tell this story? Which photos go well together? What questions do we want to pose? What is the feeling we want to create? There will be a storyline - a beginning, an end, and a journey we would like to take you on in between.
Around February we will send the book to Kehrer for printing. We will be there in case there are any last-minute questions or adjustments we need to make.
Finally, in March, the book will hit the shelves. We will have a book launch and gallery show in Zurich and start sending out your copies.
WHO IS KEHRER PUBLISHING?
Kehrer is a leading, internationally-renowned and independently-owned photo book publishing house located in Heidelberg, Germany. Tom has published two books with them, one of which was nominated for the German Book Award 2016. The work with the Kehrer staff has been remarkable and we will work together with their team on every step of the process. Here is a video from the printing of one of Tom's books, Daheim.
WHERE DOES MY MONEY GO?
Your money goes toward the publication of the book - the sum we pay to the publisher to print and make the book for you, as well as make it available to a worldwide audience. We also hire a graphic artist to work with us on layout and design.
Also: 5% of the rewards go toward kickstarter. 3-5% are payment processing fees.
Our calculations are for the bare minimum cost. We cherish this project and we want to see it come to life. If you help us exceed our funding goal - that would be absolutely fabulous! We will be able to add more pages with photos and interviews, and collaborate with an author to write the introduction to the book. Finally, we could have the book printed and bound more beautifully.
So please make sure you grab one of our rewards and share this project with your friends and family!
Below are the three images for the postcard set and the limited edition prints you can choose from in the rewards.
Risks and challenges
The main challenge for us is the risk inherent in every crowdfunding campaign: If we do not make our funding goal, Kickstarter will not charge you and we won't get any money at all. This means, no book.
But, as we have shared this story endless times over dinner with friends and family or even while chatting with random strangers, we have grown confident that enough of you would like to see this book. So we are thrilled to take on the challenge - roll with it & give our best.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)