These Stunning Portraits Capture Men Before and After Becoming a Father

Childbirth is an anxious time for any parent. Some men describe labour, and the moment in which they became a father, as a "surreal experience" that has a transformative effect on their entire life.

Inspired by this, London-based photographer Tom Oldham spent 72 hours at the University Hospital Lewisham's maternity ward in an attempt to capture the array of emotions that occur before and after dads-to-be went into the delivery room.

Andy West, 36, from Forest Hill, said: "I’ve instantly realised that having a child is going to have such a profound effect because I’m always going to be responsible for another person." (Photo: Tom Oldham for PlayStation's 'God of War')

His stunning portraits aim to shine a light on the nerves and tension seen in fathers-to-be, followed by the joy and elation that budding new parents experience after meeting their child for the first time.

"When my son was born, my outlook on life changed instantly and I knew I would need to be there every step of the way to see him grow," says Toan Lam, manager of a family-run salon.

"Becoming responsible for another human being is the most surreal experience. I can’t quite put it into words – but I hope the portraits convey the magnitude of this feeling."

The men had their snapshots taken as their partners went into labour and then immediately after the arrival of their new-born baby, relieved and happy.

Hector Adebambo, 32 from Bromley, said: “For me, becoming a dad just kicked in naturally, it feels right. I’ve been speaking to my son for nine months and he’s finally here.” (Photo: Tom Oldham for PlayStation's 'God of War')

Oldham made headlines in 2014 with "On:Off", a project which captures musicians (including Ed Sheeran, Muse, Rudimental and the Prodigy) immediately before and after they went on stage.

"Playing a gig is an epic, draining experience but compared to becoming a father, it’s a walk in the park," he admits:

"These portraits capture a really powerful moment in the lives of these men and aim to showcase the enormity of becoming a parent."

"Having a child is a joint effort but sometimes, dads may be overlooked and they are left feeling less confident," explains Tracy Thomas, Lead Midwife at University Hospital Lewisham’s Birth Centre.

"Every day I see the change that men from all walks of life experience and I hope that the portraits encapsulate this incredible transformation."

Pedro Diego Fernandez, 34 from Sydenham Hill, said: “The birth was much more overwhelming than I expected but I felt amazing as soon as I held my healthy son and saw him open his eyes. I just want to be the best man for my partner and baby.” (Photo: Tom Oldham for PlayStation's 'God of War')

The 'Becoming a Father' project was commissioned by PlayStation to mark the launch of their new game 'God of War', which follows a Spartan warrior, driven by rage and a desire for vengeance, struggle to act as a mentor while navigating fatherhood.

"It is hard for human beings to truly change," explains the game's director Croy Barlog, who says he drew on his experiences when developing God of War.

"But one thing that can really motivate us is the thought of being responsible for a life, and especially the life of our child."

Toan Lam, 34 from New Cross, said: “When my son was born, my outlook on life changed instantly and I knew that I would need to be there every step of the way to see him grow. Becoming responsible for another human being is the most surreal experience; I can’t quite put it into words but I hope the portraits convey the magnitude of this feeling.” (Photo: Tom Oldham for PlayStation's 'God of War')

Tom Chappell, 35 from Hindley Green, said: “I think my priorities will change significantly now that I’m a dad. We only had ourselves to think about before but now everything will be considered with my daughter in mind... and rightly so.” (Photo: Tom Oldham for PlayStation's 'God of War')

Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com