Playful Dads: A Documentary Photo Project

PLAY is missing from most of our American lives these days. We’re so busy, and play is the first thing to go when we feel rushed. Play and fun are critical components to childhood and shouldn’t be brushed aside so easily. It’s in play, together, that we bond and forge memories. It’s in play, particularly with their fathers, that children discover their boundaries, find self control, and learn to take risks. It’s in play and fun that our marriages continue to build in friendship.

My husband always insisted he wasn’t creative. I realized a few months ago that while he isn’t crafty, he is most absolutely creative.

His flavor of creativity is in play. When I see a pool noodle, I think of floating in a pool. When HE sees a pool noodle, he sees a weapon, something to jump over, something to blow air in faces, and a million other things.

Whether it’s cutting down brush to cover our swing-set, constructing a teepee in the woods, generating obstacle courses in the yard, or launching stuffed animals off the treehouse to be caught in a parachute, it is all about having FUN.

Moments together are meant to be enjoyed.

Several months ago, I decided to start pulling all of my images of Shawn and the kids playing in our normal life over the last few years into a collection.

Thus was born my Playful Dad Project. It’s said that we should tell our kids when they endeavor to play a sport, that we so enjoyed watching them play (not just that we’re proud of their accomplishments on the field).

When I view these images, that’s what I see. Before my eyes is a man who so thoroughly enjoys his children, enjoys their company, and engages their playfulness and imaginations. When our children are grown and look upon this, they will know, “Oh. My daddy LOVED me.”

And yes, sweet children, he does.

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Photographer Carey Pace

photographing dad and children

Story + photography contributed by, photographer Carey Pace.

See more of Carrie’s incredibly moving images:

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How to Preserve Your Family Stories and Memories in Photographs | Documentary Family Photography
Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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  • Oh my goodness! these images tug on my heart strings! That first photo of the little girl on the swing….I can’t stop staring! I absolutely ADORE documenting Dads and their children. There’s just such a special bond unlike any other. Thank you for sharing these!