Portraits of Fathers
27 Apr 2007
This portrait series presents in images my personal view of fatherhood. For me, the portraits are about relationships. My essay is a series of brief observations about the relationships I see when I look at the portraits. It is not important that you see what I see. Different viewers may have (and I hope will have) different interpretations of these portraits. Every viewer brings his or her own unique set of experiences to bear upon the interpretation of a photograph. This is what allows the viewer to connect with the image.
Two things stand out in my mind when I look at Roeban and Zoe. While their hands communicate tender affection, their expressions suggest mild disapproval, like the camera has intruded into their personal space.
Mel, Dakota and Kaylee shows us a father with daughters on either side of childhood. Dakota is beginning to pull away, to assert herself as an independent entity. Kaylee is still happy to be the child. Mel seems to accept both of his daughters for who they want to be.
George and Cecilia is about the wonderful optimism of a child growing up in a world of limitless possibilities and the guarded wisdom of a father possessing a hard-won knowledge of the realities of life.
In Walter, James and Mark the boys seem to be focused on life and events beyond the picture frame while Walter is focused on his sons. I didn't think Walter would like this photograph because his face is hidden, but he did. He said that having his face covered placed the emphasis on his boys.
David and Elizabeth offers us a quiet moment between a father and daughter. It is filled with contentment and intimacy.
Darryll, Derik, and Daxon is about a traditional relationship between father and sons. Darryll told me he liked the photograph, because it showed who was boss.
I went to photograph the photographer, David Michael Kennedy, in Galisteo, NM. I asked if I could also photograph him with his son, Jessie. Jessie was busy reading and said he wasn't interested. I shot several frames of David in various places around the house and ended up back in the living room. I posed David on the arm of the couch where Jessie was sitting, and without interrupting Jessie's reading, took the picture. To me the portrait reveals a relationship in which the father appreciates his son as an individual with needs and desires all his own, a relationship where each is allowed to be his own person.
Through his embrace, Kais epitomizes the proud, protective father. But, I see more. There is an edge to his expression and a tightness to his embrace that seems to communicate uncertainty or apprehension.
Ted looks up at Jacque as if to say, "You O.K. up there, buddy?" Jacque does not need to reply. He's just fine.
Two Fathers has got to be one of my all-time favorite portraits. It is filled with pride, bravado and genuine affection. I love the fact that the males all have such serious expressions, and only the young girl is smiling.