By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
I love him. At times, I was impossibly angry with him. After decades, I can't say I fully understand what makes my dad tick.
Maybe that's one reason I was interested in how some of the best photographers who happen to be fathers would show fatherhood in their work.
Andrea Frazzetta, who lost his mother in the pandemic, has been rethinking what it means to be a father—and rebuilding a relationship with his own dad. Fatherhood, he says, “has taught me fear and courage at the same time, and realigned the values of my life.”
Ivan Kashinsky (above) says the pandemic—and being grounded from work on the road—has deepened ties with his two children, 6 and 3. “I’m trying to hold on to this moment and enjoy it. I’m thankful for this unexpected gift of a deeper relationship with them. Together, one day at a time, we grow stronger as a family.”
I hope you enjoy the following photos, and will consider our full story, put together by Maura Friedman and Amy McKeever. If you want more, here is a vintage collection of Nat Geo images of fathers and children. One last thing: Don't forget to give your dad a hug or a call this weekend, if you can.
Al J Thompson, his two kids pictured outside his garage, noticed an uptick in video games and online media with the pandemic. “This led us to take our children on bike rides and walks around the neighborhood as we find new avenues to combat loneliness,” he tells us. “We teach them the importance of getting vitamin D from the sun, being responsible through social distancing, and various other health factors."
Italy’s Frazzetta, who we mentioned above, had noticed that after two months of isolation, his son, Diego, was so unaccustomed to the outdoors that he had become afraid of ants. “To immerse ourselves in nature again, my wife, my son, and I took refuge in the Alps. My father joined us and, for a couple of days, three generations—my father, my son, and I—found ourselves walking in the woods."
When he and his family went into isolation in Indonesia, Muhammad Fadli was most worried about his daughter (above). “It turned out, however, that she has been the happiest one of us at home. It’s been a learning moment for me,” Fadli says. “As an adult, it’s easy to forget that there are good things around you no matter how difficult the situation is.”
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Today in a minute
Togetherness: A photo essay on the extraordinary friendship of photographer Kristen Emack’s daughter and niece (above) has captured the 2020 ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography. Emack shared first place with Jason Houston, whose Last Wildest Place project explored the remote Purús/Manu region in southeastern Peru, home to perhaps the highest concentration of isolated “uncontacted” tribes on Earth. See the full list of awardees.
It was 155 years ago today: Nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, two months after the Civil War ended, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally got word they were free. This year Freedom Day, also known as Juneteenth, has taken off amid a nationwide discussion on race and police violence, Rachel Jones writes for Nat Geo. Here’s her photo-laden story on Juneteenth and the 93-year-old Texas woman who is fighting to make it a national holiday. If you’re interested in another chapter of neglected American history, HBO is making its Watchmen series, which centers this season on the 1921 Tulsa massacre, free this weekend.
Leaving behind the potter's wheel: A school shutdown left ceramics artist Isaac Scott without a creative outlet, so he began carrying a camera to rallies in Philadelphia after the police killing of George Floyd. Tear-gassed twice, threatened often, Scott kept taking striking images, some of which have been featured this week in the New Yorker. “I’m a six-foot-three Black dude and I knew they’d have no issues beating me, and people like me, over the head,” Scott told the magazine. “I could only see things like that if I was really up close and with people." Hat tip to David Guttenfelder for the link.
A legend marking the moment: One of the best living photographers today is Eli Reed, the first Black photographer to join Magnum and a member of the influential African-American photo collective Kamoinge. Covering last week’s funeral of George Floyd, Reed worked like a watercolorist to capture the fleeting moment, writes Chaédria LaBouvier for The Cut. Reed showed “what it meant to be in the sticky humidity of that Houston evening that smelled like grief, mosquito repellent, candle wax, and cedar wood," LaBouvier writes. See the images here.
What it meant: Photographer Patience Zalanga was working the Minneapolis protests and internalizing their causes at the same time. “I couldn’t separate the deep grief I was feeling with the job,” she wrote in a candid Twitter series. “When I take pictures, I FEEL them too. I am also processing what I’m feeling through my photos.” She thanked readers for their support and editors for their sudden interest in her work. She then asked three questions: “Is this where it ends for some of us? Will you collaborate and engage with Black storytellers and photographers after this moment? Do you commit to building relationships with Black storytellers and photographers in the future?” Thanks to historian John Edwin Mason for the link.
Your Instagram of the day
A father’s ‘love’: “I have faced a lot of violence, mob attacks, police cases–because of my sexuality.” In 2009, Pearl (not his real name), a transgender man from Ghana, was arrested. When he refused to "confess" to being lesbian, he was handed over to a crowd. Gasoline was poured on him as he was marched to a bonfire. Moments before what would have been Pearl’s murder, his father arrived, saving him. However, fatherly love did not extend to accepting Pearl’s gender identity. The "cure" lay in prayer, it was decided. Pearl was sent to a prayer camp. He eventually escaped the camp and a father who would never accept him. Today, says photographer Robin Hammond, he’s an activist for transgender rights. June, Pride month, marks the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969, which changed gay rights in the U.S. and beyond. Transgender people of color were at the forefront of the riots.
Subscriber exclusive: In their words, how children are affected by gender issues
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The big takeaway
A pleasant COVID-19 surprise: Thailand was the first place outside China with a reported case of the coronavirus. Photographer Sirachai Arunrugstichai thought the nation was done for. It didn’t have the money for mass screening. The public health minister was inexperienced, but he did turn over the effort to experts. It was ordinary citizens who rallied to protect themselves—and stop a major outbreak. “The public is strict about mask wearing,” Arunrugstichai tells Nat Geo. “If I forget to wear one, the ‘aunties’ on the streets glare at me intensely, making me run back home in shame to grab a mask.” Above, as restrictions are easing, masked crowds are filling Bangkok's Chatuchak Market, one of the largest in Southeast Asia. Below left, a woman feeds Buddhist monks, who are not allowed to buy food; on the right, traditional dancers wear face shields at the Erawan Shrine in downtown Bangkok.
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Overheard at Nat Geo
Brave: Nearly a thousand African-American pilots who served in World War II learned to fly at Tuskegee, Alabama, the only U.S. military airfield that trained black cadets. Just 10 of the famed Tuskegee Airmen remain today, and retired Lt. Col. Harry T. Stewart, Jr., who turned 95 last Independence Day, is one of them. Stewart told Nat Geo that prejudice kept him from becoming a commercial pilot after the war; he became a mechanical engineer instead. His hope for the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen? “I just want them to be remembered as good citizens—good Americans who felt duty-bound to join in protecting their country during times of need, even in the face of discrimination.” Above left, Stewart, who flew 43 combat missions in a P-51 Mustang, holds a model of the plane; at right, in the cockpit at age 21, holding up three fingers to show the number of enemy aircraft he shot down escorting American bombers.
Subscriber exclusive: A trail-blazer who helped defeat the Nazis—and encountered discrimination at home
The last glimpse
Really big nets: Who needs a fishing pole when these traditional Native American fishing techniques exist? In this image, featured in National Geographic’s February 1939 issue, these men fished for salmon in the Columbia River by lowering nets into the river as the fish swam upstream. Sara Manco, our senior photo archivist, was struck by the daring of the men, hanging by a rope on the side of a cliff instead of using the rod-and-reel method. “I love the element of danger in this photo,” Manco tells us, “for something so many of us take for a peaceful and calm activity.”
Subscriber exclusive: Why we must protect freshwater fish