The Reluctant Father
Phillip Toledano shares about the challenges of fatherhood in a stunning photographic series
The Reluctant Father is a photographic series that follows New York based photographer Phillip Toledano’s journey into fatherhood. Contrary to the ‘tsunami of love’ that many come to expect with the arrival of a newborn, Toledano’s honest recount of his first year as a father exposes the challenges of forming an emotional connection with a child, or as Toledano termed the newborn Loulou, a ‘sea-sponge’ or ‘the alien’ (he wittily quips in one photo of Loulou ‘take me to your leader’). Accompanying each stunning photo in the series is an honest reflection on the developments in Loulou’s life. Her eating habits are likened to that of a wild animal, handling her sporadic cries is compared to handling an explosive.
Toledano’s series balances humour and hope with regret and confusion. Of the strain a child places on a marriage he says, “And then there was my wife, Carla. When Loulou was born, she vanished.” He also mourns his late parents whose absence was made more apparent by Loulou’s arrival. “When you have a child, she becomes your past, present and future. I not only see myself and Carla in Loulou, but I see my parents too.”
As the series progresses, Toledano clearly begins to settle into the role of a father, noticing that he has become a stereotypical statistic: the father who whips out his iPhone in the middle of dinner to show photos of his daughter. Towards the end of the series, he himself notices the differences “It amazes me. There is such a sense of love in these pictures that wasn’t there before.” The heartwarming and brutally honest series reveals the journey from observer to participant, from photographer to father.
All photo credits to Phillip Toledano
Read The Reluctant Father (which is now a book as well) here!