Photographer Zun Lee didn’t set out to create a series that shattered the stereotype of black men as absent black fathers. In fact, “Father Figure,” was meant to show black men in positive relationships with their children as a personal journey.
But the project morphed into more than Lee could ever imagine.
A decade ago, Lee discovered his biological father was a black man with whom his mother had a brief relationship. Lee was raised in Germany by his Korean mother and her husband, a man Lee assumed was his biological father, and who was also extremely abusive. Once Lee learned the truth about his biological father, he felt pain and rejection from the man he never met. For Lee, that pain reinforced the stereotype of the absent black father.
As a photographer, Lee had focused primarily on street photography, but he began working on “Father Figure” after he was encouraged during a photography workshop to try to tackle a long-form project. He did, and recently turned the work into a book, due to be released by Ceiba Foto this September.
During shoots for the project, “Father Figure” developed into a more personal project with a deeper meaning. Now, Lee hopes to not only shatter the stereotype of black men not being good fathers, but also the idea that black men are people to fear.
What a wonderful way to proactively combat the false narrative that black fathers are absent.
To see “Father Figure” and other works from Zun Lee visit www.zunlee.com.
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