Artist's Statement

Dirk Anschütz

Portraits of an influential relationship - inkjet prints, 13x19 inches

I became the father of a boy in 2012 and the change this constantly evolving relationship has brought to my life is hard to overstate. Since I was the single child of a single mother (I never knew my father), I also have to navigate parenthood without a first hand male role model. This gave me an interest in photographically exploring the relationships of other fathers and sons.

The most basic role of a father is to protect his child while also allowing the kid to learn and grow by failing and getting hurt (but not too much). It’s a constant balancing of preaching caution and abandon. On top of that there’s the expected guidance in interpersonal, scholastic, tech-related, sexual (dear Lord, no!), and financial behavior. Plus installing a basic value system for dealing with a constantly changing world. What could possibly go wrong?

Obviously the father-son-relationship is incredibly influential for both. Many times a son will follow in his dad’s footsteps, and most dads have to make big life changes to accommodate their children. Children might have to return the favor when their parents grow old.

In many parts of our society views of fatherhood and manhood are shifting. A man’s role in his family and at work is being fundamentally reexamined and expanded. This creates new opportunities but also new responsibilities and anxieties. There is also a pushback on a private and political level. Meanwhile the way we as men are acting within the world is often deeply influenced by the father-son relationship.

In Fathers & Sons I explore some of the stages and variations of fatherhood. The fathers and sons in these images display the camaraderie, tensions, annoyances, competitiveness, pride, and love at the root of their relationships.

I want the images to feel vaguely like memories since memories are an essential bond between family members.