As more mothers become breadwinners and fathers are free to take on more domestic roles within the home, new definitions of masculinity and manliness emerge. That’s where parenting magazine Kindling Quarterly comes in. With publisher and editor David Michael Perez at its helm, the periodical hopes to shift societal definitions of fatherhood to include more progressive roles. Within a plethora of magazines geared towards the trials and tribulations of motherhood, he and co-founder August Heffner carve out a space for frank discussions on male parenting. Operating out of Brooklyn, Kindling Quarterly recognizes an emerging generation of fathers, steering away from topics like dirty diapers and vaccinations and offering up an honest exploration of deeper questions of feminism and masculinity.
For our latest Offset group show, Perez picked out a group of courageous images that speak to the changing roles of fathers from the Offset collection, a new source of high-end editorial and commercial photography. He tells us more about Kindling Quarterly and the kinds of photographs that spark his interest.
Tell us about the inspiration for starting Kindling Quarterly. How old was your son Amon when you had the idea?
“My son was very young when August (Heffner, Creative Director) and I decided to start the magazine. This was either brilliant or woefully naive. More than anything, when my son was born and even beforehand, I felt there was a lot missing from the dialogue on male parents, whether it be the emotional demands, how it relates to gender equality, or how the father role shapes our society at large. Fatherhood felt like a genuine mystery and I wanted to talk to other dads about their experience.”
How is Kindling Quarterly different from the typical parenting magazine you might pick up at the doctors office?
“Kindling is different in so far as it isn’t a how-to or a parenting advice magazine. It is not premised on the idea that if you do this or try that you’ll be a prefect or better parent. Rather we just try to make sense of the joys and challenges in an honest way. It’s incredibly challenging and why not accept that? I always say KQ is ‘about fatherhood’ as opposed to being a ‘dad magazine.’ Fatherhood — as well as masculinity — is a changing, mutable construction that affects everyone and we aim to explore it accordingly.”
How would you describe the look of the magazine?
“Elegant yet relatable.”
Who are some of the photographers you work with and what are you looking for in a photographer?
“We’ve had the pleasure of working with so many talented photographers, including Shawn Brackbill, Bill Phelps, Aaron Wojack, Herschel Baltrotsky, Julia Gillard, Theo Morrison and Theresa Andrea, Trevor Smith and Zun Lee among others.
“Visually capturing men actively engaged with their children is surprisingly tricky, so many of the precedents involve heroic portraiture which we really want to get away from. We find that the most successful shoots feel the most natural.”
Can you tell us about a few of the more interesting shoots you’ve worked on for the magazine?
“Noel Camardo’s photography of the artist Matthew Day Jackson (Issue 3) sticks out right away. He shot it at his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is an amazing space. He was an incredibly generous subject and has an amazing team around him. Not to mention a race car in his backyard! I thought our Issue 5 editorial (‘One Day In Maine’) by Muwin Collective was particularly sweet—chef Ravin ‘Bas’ Nakjaroen took his daughter mushroom foraging. The photographer Jonathan Levitt is such a great story teller.
“Both the Everard Findlay and John Moore features from Issue 2 also felt really special. Each photographer (Bill Phelps & Herschel Baltrotsky respectively) expressed that the shoot felt like a day at home with a friend and it really shows in the work.”
What types of fathers do you look to feature?
“As we grow we hope the magazine will only get more diverse in terms of the backgrounds of the dads we feature. While a lot of the men in our pages work in creative fields, it is not a necessity. More than anything, I want to feature men who strive to be present and engaged with their children, have a point of view, and feel fatherhood is in need of some major changes.”
Where do you find inspiration for the magazine?
“Well at the risk of sounding hopelessly sentimental, honestly the biggest inspiration comes from the day to day time with my son and my partner Molly. If I’m working too much or losing focus of that, the work really suffers. Yet as enthusiastic as I am about fatherhood, I don’t relate to a lot of ‘parenting’ or ‘dad’ culture per se. The magazine is my attempt to see a more modern, feminist version of fatherhood.”
Tell us about your Offset collection.
“June 15th (aka Father’s Day this year) was my general inspiration. I wanted to capture that feeling of early summer, as well as a more rare version of masculinity. There are so many great photographs of men playing with their kids or holding newborns in the Offset collection, but I was drawn to the images of men being a supportive partner during home birth, or in the case of the Lauren Pisano image, the vulnerability of an embrace.”
How did you go about choosing the images? Where you looking for something specific or did you include the images that simply caught your eye?
“I wanted to the images to be compelling on their own right outside of a broader theme while also working well as a whole. I definitely wanted the collection to feel like summer. I should note the song ‘Summertime Clothes’ by Animal Collective was definitely bouncing around in my head while going through the site.”
David Michael Perez, publisher and editor, courtesy of Jeffrey Gray Brandsted. ‘Kindling Quarterly’, Issue 5 2014.
All photos featured in this post can be found on Offset, a new curated collection of high-end commercial and editorial photography and illustration from award-winning artists around the world. Offset is an exclusive category channel partner on Feature Shoot.