On Putting Dads in the Picture, With Sophie Harris-Taylor
Dadditude Newsletter #17
Dadditude interviews dads (and mums) from different backgrounds, professional fields and ethnicities to get their insights on what it means to be a parent in the current moment.
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Sophie Harris-Taylor is a photographer and mum based in London, who spent part of her lockdown creating portraits of dads and their kids. The series is beautiful, candid, and most of the shots are accompanied by short comments where the dads open up to the joy, the loneliness or sometimes the darker moments they experienced around birth and during the Covid lockdowns. She regularly shares new shots on her Instagram.
We spoke with her recently about her craft, her recent focus on dads photography, and getting things done as a busy mum.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Sophie, 32 from London. I’m a mum to Zenon, my son, and partner to his incredible Dad Misha. I’m a photographer working in advertising as well as on my own personal assignments where I tell people's stories and explore subjects which often go unnoticed. Most of the time these come from my own experiences, preoccupations and vulnerabilities.
Tell us about your kid.
He’s 2 and half, more energy than anyone I know, he’s got a beautiful sensitive nature about him.
How do you manage to mix work and family?
I’ve kind of got the best of both worlds, I’m freelance and have Zenon at the moment about 3 days a week. I get to work whilst also getting to do the mum thing, hanging out in playgrounds and going to butterfly houses. It’s pretty full on but this is probably cliché to say, I think I get more done since becoming a mum having less time to procrastinate.
How would you describe your photography style?
I’d say my work sits somewhere between documentary and something more staged. Aesthetically, I love working in natural and ambient light, I’m not one for gimmicks or heavily processed images. I’m interested in honesty, rawness and often seek to highlight and emphasise those moments of the everyday. In terms of the themes, my work tends to focus on the human experience, especially our relationships. I’ve worked on projects about realities of breastfeeding, skin conditions, dancers and a few on family.
You recently shot a series on Present Fathers. How did this project come to life?
My partner was pretty lucky to have several months of paternity leave so we were very much both involved from day one. Sometime after the birth of our son though, I realised he didn’t really know where to turn for support or explore and express this new role he’d found himself in. It made me wonder about the experiences of the countless other new fathers out there who we just don’t really hear from or see, at least not in comparison to new mothers. I guess that was the starting point of the project. In a time when we’re trying to close the gender gap, and many men taking on a more prominent parenting role, there seems to be an absence of support or discussion of this. I wanted to see if there was something dads could get from speaking about their own experiences and hearing those of others.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I’m working on my patience... But I think I’m pretty laid back overall. My kid loves mud, especially rolling and dunking his hair in it – and I’m quite happy to ignore the disapproving glances.
What stresses you out the most these days as a parent?
The fact that his new favourite word is ‘no’, you almost can’t win with anything – I’m working on my reverse psychology.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I feel like now everything’s started to open up again, there’s so many more experiences and places I want to show my son. I’m not great at planning, so I’m hoping to get a bit better at that and take him to see more stuff. I think that’s more something for now than the past!
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kid recently?
He’s starting to talk more and more in full sentences. When he comes out of nursery, he tries to list every single thing he’s done that day and gets so excited he trips over his words and runs out of breath. Also the role play is pretty fun too.
Thank you Sophie!
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We’ve enjoyed reading:
Dads Just Want to Help
Sacrificing for their kids makes fathers happier. Acknowledging that sacrifice will make everyone happier.
‘A Family Like Ours’: Portraits of Gay Fatherhood
A new book of photography features the intimate moments of queer dads in America.
Throwback: Dadditude Newsletter #6: On Raising a Daughter in America as a Latino Dad, with Super Papa Sergio Rosario Diaz
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