Powerful Images That Shatter the Stereotype of the Absent Black Father

Powerful Images That Shatter the Stereotype of the Absent Black Father

Zun Lee said he is not only trying to shatter the stereotype of black men not being good fathers, but also the idea that black men are people to fear, something Lee said is obviously connected to racial profiling.

“Basically, the statement I’m making is the reasons people assume black fathers are absent are the same reasons people assume black men are threatening,” Lee said. “People say [when looking at his work] ‘These are not the men I thought would be affectionate,’ and it confuses them to see these men with tattoos and muscles as being nonmenacing.”

“I wanted to invite people in, to get curious about what’s going on and not hit them over the head with something overly political,” he added about his work. “At the same time, the very fact that I’m photographing black fathers in this manner is by its nature very political.”

Photography is such an amazing tool, as I’ve posted before. It breaks down barriers and forces people to see past preconceived notions. I was incredibly moved by these images, and I am so pleased to share them with you.

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A man, a photo and the long search to find the person in it

A man, a photo and the long search to find the person in it  

See that guy? The one in the photograph. Worn work boots, yellow construction hat, hooded sweatshirt, purple winter jacket, broad shoulders, serious face, slumped forward, hands clasped, eyes locked on the stranger’s camera pointed at him.

That guy, who is he?

The photo provides a vague clue. Its caption reads: “I was Defensive Player of the Year.”

That could mean anything. High school. College. Professional. From 20 years ago. Ten. Five. Played linebacker. Defensive end. Cornerback.

That’s the genius in Humans of New York, a blog that features portraits of New Yorkers, so many hipsters and bankers, couples and their children and their grandparents, natives and immigrants, homeless and rich, tattooed and bearded and costumed. The portraits come with short descriptions, sometimes one sentence, sometimes four, just enough information to light cauldrons of speculation, to begin an exercise in collective fiction writing done by strangers on the Internet. The captions provide the beginning of the story. What you see in the picture is the rest of it.

This is a quiet story. It’s not flashy or dramatic; it’s simply a tale of trying to find someone, and what the search comes to mean for the man in the picture and the people searching for him. The story also asks the important question of why? Why do we care? Why do we need to know?

What’s your story?

Think You Know What ‘Queer’ Looks Like? Think Again.

Think You Know What ‘Queer’ Looks Like? Think Again.

In January 2014, Sarah Deragon posted a photo her wife had taken of her on Facebook with the words, “Queer Femme,” and The Identity Project was born. This photography project was launched because as a photographer, Sarah wanted to explore the labels that we use when we define our sexuality and gender. 

Sarah believes that The Identity Project resonates with people because the photo project pushes up against the preconceived notions of what it is to be LGBTQ in today’s society. Not only are the portraits striking, the participants in the project are playing with language, making up entirely new terms (transgenderqueer or inbetweener) and showing pride in their complex and ever changing identities.

Just fantastic. I love the idea of creating your own label, of really owning your identity. As the author of the Jezebel article stated,

I am firmly in the “labels are important and serve to bring people with similar marginalized experiences together” camp, although I know plenty of people within the queer community both in the West and in Japan who balk at labels. “Why do we even need labels,” they ask, “can’t we just get rid of all of the labels? We’ll be ever so much better off!” Well, I think that would be true if all identities and the expression of those identities were treated as equal. Then the unifying aspect of labels for marginalized identities wouldn’t be necessary. 

Check out Sarah’s website for more photos & information about her work. You can even donate money to expand her project to other cities across the country.

Sidenote: This reminds me so much of Project 562: Changing the Way We Native America. Another wonderful example of a photographer using her lens to help people see beyond labels and stereotypes.

Let’s Be Done With Terry Richardson Forever Now

Let’s Be Done With Terry Richardson Forever Now

“Terry Richardson has been accused multiple times of sexually harassing models on set and of coercing them into performing sexual acts on camera. He has made being a predatory creep into a part of his personal brand, part of the on-set culture on his shoots (just ‘Uncle Terry’ being Uncle Terry!). For Terry Richardson, the ‘art’ and the monstrous artist are inextricably intertwined — and it’s time for the fashion world and his myriad celebrity collaborators to stop pretending this hasn’t always been the case.”

More here:

Another Model Comes Forward With Horrible Terry Richardson Allegations (surprise! they involve sexual assault!)

And:

Meet the Woman Who’s Terry Richardson’s Partner in Perverse Crime

If you’re as disgusted by this as I am after reading through this horror show, there’s also a change.org petition for you to sign.

Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America

First, read Jezebel’s Combating the Misrepresentation of Native Americans, Through Photos. Then, for more background and photos, read The New York Times’ Rejecting Stereotypes, Photographing ‘Real’ Indians. Finally, because you’re just as into this as I am, check out Matika Wilbur’s Kickstarter video as well as her own blog for more photos and information. Bonus: you can also watch her TEDx Talk, Surviving Disappearance, Re-Imagining & Humanizing Native Peoples.

“Last December, Native American photographer Matika Wilbur embarked upon a journey with a staggeringly ambitious goal — over the next few years, she hopes to photograph members of every single Native American tribe. There were 562 recognized by the federal government when she started (and 566 now), hence the project’s title: Project 562.” [Jezebel]

“She only asks her subjects to be photographed outdoors on indigenous land. It is challenging, since weather and lighting are as unpredictable as where her subjects choose to be photographed is. She has waded through icy water, flown in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon and driven thousands of miles. After printing her images, she hand colors sections with oil paint to emphasize certain parts.

At the completion of the project, she plans to create a moving photo exhibit, accompanied by a book, photographs, video and geographical mapping features to pinpoint tribes across the country. A collection of her images and audio interviews will be on display at The Tacoma Art Museum in May.” [New York Times]

Amazing, amazing, amazing. People like Matika Wilbur give me hope for humanity, and that is not an exaggeration. Let yourself be moved by her passion and creativity.

Portraits of One Person as Two Genders

Portraits of One Person as Two Genders

These portraits really speak for themselves. In case you need more convincing:

“For the series ‘Alone Time,’ Levine recreated and photographed typical domestic environments that play with gender stereotypes. As a twist, he used only one model to play both the male and female characters in the image. The result, Levine said, ‘challenges the normative idea that gender presentation is stable or constant. Rather, gender expression can be fluid and multiple.'”