Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad

What does it mean to be a modern dad? Explore diverse images for Father’s Day through the lenses of these eight lifestyle photographers.

In the past few years, ​headlines​ for leading publications have declared that our understanding of “fatherhood” is changing. Stereotypes and prejudices about parenting and gender are breaking down, as ​studies​ reveal that there is no difference between mothers and fathers when it comes to important areas like warmth and encouragement.

At the same time, fathers around the globe have advocated for fair paternity leave and an active role in their children’s upbringing. And today, we see diverse and realistic depictions of loving fathers in the media.

With Father’s Day around the corner, this is all cause for celebration. We asked eight talented photographers to take us behind-the-scenes on some of their most poignant and uplifting sessions.

Some of them work with their own families, while others collaborate with clients, friends, and acquaintances. But each and every one of them is a tribute to the unique and enduring bond between father and child. It took a long time for Father’s Day to become a recognized holiday, but these images prove just how important it is.

1. “I’m lucky to have been able to capture this shot with Sunny’s facial expression.”
Ashley Kamara
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Gratitude and Love

Image by Ashley Kamara. Gear: Canon EOS 6D camera, 35mm 1.4 L lens. Settings: Exposure 1/1250​ sec; f1.4; ISO 500.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

Sunny, my daughter, had just turned seven. I had my camera out to capture her blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. The blankie she’s holding has been a keepsake for her since her infant years. It is always with her in moments of celebration and in times of comfort.

Her dad makes an effort to squat down to her level to maintain eye contact during conversations. He’s always full of one-sentence reminders, especially after we celebrate being alive and well another year. He subtly reminds our children about gratitude, joy, and love, and he hopes to fill them with confidence.

I’m lucky to have been able to capture this shot with Sunny’s facial expression. I know it so well. She makes it after receiving a compliment.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Embrace Luck

Image by Ashley Kamara

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2. “I love how ​real​ this moment is.”
Inti St Clair / Blend
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Seek Real Moments

Image by Inti St Clair / Blend. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III camera, 24-70mm lens. Settings: Focal length 50mm; exposure 1/100 sec; f4; ISO 640.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

I love how ​real​ this moment is. These dads were so tired, as all new parents are. But they still wanted to know if I wanted them to clean up (I didn’t), how they should act, etc. I told them I just wanted them to ​be. I told them to enjoy their new baby, and I captured that. The love and awe just shine through.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Let the Moments Be

Image by Inti St Clair / Blend

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3. “As someone that has worked with several families, what has stood out to me is their family dynamic.”
Alpana Aras-King
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Capture Family Dynamics

Image by Alpana Aras-King. Gear: Nikon D700 camera, 50mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/400 sec; f4; ISO 320.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

DJ is a fellow photographer. I have known him for a while and was honored to capture his sweet family. We did this session with his wife and two boys at their home. On numerous occasions, I had already seen DJ interact with his children, taking on that active dad role. It might be taking the boys out for hikes in the Oakland Hills or cooking a meal together—in all its messy glory.

Alpana Aras-KingAlpana Aras-King

mosaic__mobile-caption">Pictured: [1] Alpana Aras-King [2] Alpana Aras-King

As someone that has worked with several families, what has stood out to me is their family dynamic. It is pretty evident that this father is an equal parent in his children’s lives. This tender moment of holding his baby boy is in every way a testament to him being a great father—a role he seems to cherish.

Website | Website | Instagram | Instagram

4. “I’m most inspired to shoot images that are reminders of what’s important in life.”
Nicole Sanchez
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Important Moments

Image by Nicole Sanchez. Gear: Nikon D810 camera, Nikon 24mm f/1.8 lens. Settings: Exposure ​1/320​ sec; f2.8; ISO ​10000​.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This is my husband and our two sons. I’m most inspired to shoot images that are reminders of what’s important in life. Family life is made up of so many little moments that fly by and are soon forgotten. Life with kids can get so busy, and taking time to enjoy the downtime makes life sweeter.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Little Moments

Image by Nicole Sanchez

While adjusting to life with two, we spent a lot of lazy mornings in bed, and I have my husband to thank for that. He’s always reminding me to slow down and not worry so much about the time or the to-do list. Because of him, we have many memories of moments like this, just enjoying being together before getting our day started.

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5. “This image was taken at a fresh 24 session—a session following the first 24 hours after a baby is born, usually in the hospital.”
Cynthia Dawson
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Sweet Moments

Image by Cynthia Dawson. Gear: Nikon D610 camera, Sigma 35mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/320 sec; f2.8; ISO 1600.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This image was taken at a fresh 24 session—a session following the first 24 hours after a baby is born, usually in the hospital. These are some of my favorite sessions, and the main thing I remember about this one was how calm this dad was in comforting his new baby. She quickly settled for him, and he then spent the rest of the session cuddling her and admiring her. It was very sweet!

Cynthia DawsonCynthia Dawson

Pictured: [1] Cynthia Dawson [2] Cynthia Dawson

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6. “This image was taken on vacation with my family.”
Devon Hall

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Sweet and Silly

Image by Devon Hall. Gear: Canon 5D Mark III camera, Sigma Art 35mm lens. Settings: Exposure 1/4000 sec; f2.8; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This image was taken on vacation with my family. The young boy is my son, and the handsome dad is my husband. This moment was fleeting; the sun was harsh—not typically what I prefer to shoot in—but the capture was gentle, sweet, and somewhat silly. Both my boys were sharing in an afternoon treat—beer for dad and pizza for the boy. It perfectly sums up the relaxed vacation mood we all love.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Lazy Summer Days

Image by Devon Hall

Website | Instagram

7. “I wanted to photograph them as candidly and naturally as possible…”
Katie Rain
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Shoot Candidly

Image by Katie Rain. Gear: Canon 5D Mark IV camera, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8II L lens. Settings: Focal length 61mm; exposure 1/400 sec; f3.5; ISO 160.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

At the time of this photo, the dad was away doing training to become a San Francisco Bar Pilot. He would only be home ​one​ day per month, so his daughter was stuck to him like glue during the session.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Make Time for Something Special

Image by Katie Rain

I wanted to photograph them as candidly and naturally as possible, which was very easy since all they did was laugh and play together! I think it’s easy to forget to take pictures when you are busy, but I am proud that this family made the time for the photoshoot on his day off so their kids could have some great memories.

Website | Instagram

8. “One day each month, I charged my batteries, pulled out my camera, and kept it with me at all times.”
Laura Froese
Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Shoot Everyday Moments

Image by Laura Froese. Gear: Canon 6D camera, Sigma 35mm f1.4 lens. Settings: Exposure 1/320 sec; f3.2; ISO 1250.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

We had our first two boys very close together—just over a year apart. I knew the year baby joined us was going to be crazy, hectic, and foggy, but I kept having this image of myself as an 80-year-old woman sitting on a sofa and trying to reminisce about “the good old days.”

I knew that I wouldn’t remember everything, and while certain moments or occasions would stick out in my mind, the “everyday” would be lost over time. So I set out to do a special project that year. One day each month, I charged my batteries, pulled out my camera, and kept it with me at all times.

I documented the boring, the mundane, the smiles, the tantrums, and really just the simplicity that I knew would be taken for granted in the moment but special down the road. I did a “day in my life” once a month for a full year, and this image of my son playing with daddy’s razor pretending to shave during teeth brushing time was one of those everyday moments. It is something easily forgotten but eternally precious.

Diverse Images that Redefine What It Means to Be Dad — Keep it Simple

Image by Laura Froese

Website | Instagram

Top Image by Cynthia Dawson.

Want to learn more about shooting incredible portraits? Pick up tips from the pros with these articles:

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Shooting Portrait Photography That’s Anything but Ordinary
Diverse Beauty Images to Inspire Your Next Photoshoot

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