Father Figure Project - Choices
"Beggars can't be choosers" was my motto when trying to find subjects during the DAH workshop. Luckily, this was my first photo workshop of any kind, so nobody alerted me to the foolishness of trying to put together a well-rounded essay in three days. I ran around NYC frantically day and night, getting my hands on any African-descended father that consented and that I figured would make a great subject. I mainly relied on the kindness of strangers and the dedicated efforts of a few friends who supported me tirelessly by talking up dads they knew.
In hindsight, I probably would have chosen a less difficult subject, and I certainly would have shot it differently had I properly researched this subject matter. Well, in fact, I have all the time in the world now, so the majority of my time does revolve around research, working with fatherhood organizations in various cities, as well as continuing to reach out to friends and associates. This project is still very much in its early stages, so I am trying not to steer my efforts in any particular direction. However, I can't - and don't want to - boil the ocean - as mentioned in my first post, my treatment of this subject stems from a very personal perspective, and in no way will this become a comprehensive photojournalistic oeuvre on Black Fatherhood. A lot of work has already been published in this area, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. I'll have to make certain choices soon - thematically, artistically, from an editorial perspective and logistically. and I think I'm at that fork in the road right now. Some of the choices that come to mind:
- "one cam, one lens" or different equipment - while I like the idea of the former, the reality is I already started out with the latter. That said, my penchant for "wide and close" will most definitely carry on.
- BW versus color - that is a tough one. For the workshop, I used BW to conjure up a tighter thematic consistency and more of a documentary feel. That said, color has been important in many shoots thus far. I'm continuing to process both ways and will see how things evolve. To that end, I've posted two images I used for the essay in this post, but in color.
- many different subjects versus a handful - this project will NOT be an anthology of portraits. I will line up as many dads as I can, but I've already developed a relationship with a handful of dads, whom I will follow regularly over the course of the project. This may very well become a longitudinal effort about their lives.
- still photography only versus multi-media - if funding materializes and other artists want to join in, I'd be happy to include other media for this project. I'm recording audio and interviewing dads and kids as we speak, as well as keping a diary of every shoot to jot down my own feelings. As mentioned above, we'll see how things evolve.
Right now, I'm just focused on shooting who and what feels right without being too rigid. I'm sure over time, certain focal points will emerge and you will see me making some of these choices fairly soon...