Dads are pretty darn awesome.
They're also increasingly becoming known for being especially kind, gentle, and loving. Unfortunately, this side of fatherhood isn't often shown in imagery. But photographers and photo companies are working to change that.
1. This amazing papa looks totally at ease holding his adorable child. Photo by Layland Masuda/Getty Images.
According to Tristen Norman, head of creative insights and planning at Getty Images, making sure photos of loving, compassionate dads are included in their photo archive is an important way to shift the narrative of masculinity and fatherhood.
2. Who says dads can't clean up after their kids? Data — and this super cute photo — say otherwise. Photo by Maskot/Getty Images.
"When imagery only tells us one narrative, these views emerge as restrictive and one-dimensional, omitting diverse voices and ultimately normalizing a singular stereotype," Norman says. "Just as images have this ability to set narratives, so too do they have the power to change perceptions. Which is why it is so important to us to change the visual narrative around fatherhood — and we’re in a position to help do that."
Why is it so important to present imagery of fathers in loving, patient moments with their kids? Because research shows it's pretty darn important to them.
According to the Pew Research Center, dads have become just as likely as moms to see parenting as a central part of their identity.
54% of fathers surveyed reported that parenting is rewarding all the time, in contrast with 52% of moms. In short, a lot of dads love parenting — and they want to be good at it.
3. Yes, dads are pretty excellent multitaskers, too. Photo by Maskot/Getty Images.
"As parental roles have changed and expanded, we don’t need to hold on to this outdated view of fathers being disengaged, remote, or even absent," Norman says.
"Positive imagery has positive impact, so showing fathers doing their daughter’s hair, reading to their children, cooking with them, teaching them responsibility are important in influencing the next generation of parents."
4. Reading or simply spending time with your dad can be one of the most meaningful moments of the day. Photo by Anchiy/Getty Images.
Some of the positive imagery reflects the fact that dads are making important gains in the child care arena.
In fact, according to research from 2016, fathers reported spending about eight hours per week caring for a child, about triple the amount fathers reported providing in 1965.
5. Yes, dads can, will, and should do laundry. Oh, and they've got time to play too. Photo by Hero Images/Getty Images.
"Showing active fathers who are rolling up their sleeves, wiping faces, changing diapers, getting messy and involved, is so important in breaking down old typecasts and presenting new role models for men," Norman says.
In addition to breaking down decades-old stereotypes, Getty Images is also looking toward the future of fatherhood.
As the number of same-sex parents continues to rise (according to Census Bureau data, there are about 110,000 LGBTQ couples raising children) in the U.S., Getty hopes to continue showing more diverse imagery of fathers, including various jobs, ethnicities, and sexualities.
"We really want to expand this view of fatherhood and all socialized gender roles," Norman says. "Showing dads who have no hesitations about playing with their daughters on her terms, whether that means playing tea party or building a model rocket ship. Or dads teaching their sons how to cook as well as how to catch a baseball. We need to move away from the nuclear family with the station wagon and elevate LGBTQ+ families, single dads, older or stay-at-home dads. And we need to broaden the scope of fatherly love."
6. This heartwarming photo shows that dads can be just as nurturing as moms. Photo by Yoshiyoshi Hirokawa/Getty Images.
It's important that society creates imagery that shows dads playing a key role in their child's life.
As stereotypes, such as only being the "sidekick" or "fun" dad, start to become less common, Norman hopes that Getty Images and other photo companies ensure that visuals amplify a diversifying definition of what it means to be a good dad.
"This is a stereotype that has been particularly prevalent throughout history, but can play out differently within specific communities," Norman says. "It can be as mild as ‘sidekick’ or ‘disengaged,’ or as pernicious as ‘deadbeat dad’ or ‘absent father.’ Visually showing this commitment to parenting and sustained connection throughout a child’s lifecycle — not just as infants — is fundamental to breaking down these harmful clichés."
7. An educational moment with dad can be a great way to end the day. Photo by Adam Angelides/Getty Images.
"These images challenge the old (and toxic) visual manual to fatherhood, empower men to be equally present in raising their children, and enable society to embrace the full spectrum of today’s fathers."
If fatherhood continues to look anything like these photos, I can't wait to see what's next.