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Troy Colby photographs the fragility of being a father

Although filled with adoration, love and excitement, parenthood can be an equally nervous and daunting process. For Troy Colby, a photographer born and raised in a small rural farming community and now residing in Lawrence, Kansas, he presents his honest experiences of fatherhood in his ongoing series, The Fragility of Fatherhood.

“Hold my hand and hold your breath. I am learning as I pretend to know what I am doing,” writes Colby in the opening of his series’ letterhead. “I am so tired and worry more about you than myself. I am restless in this domesticated life. I long for more for you and myself. Things seemed easy when it was only the pitter-patter of your little feet. Life can be so unkind.”

As a stay-at-home father, Colby, at first, seems unsettled by this – tired and restless of the structured chaos that comes with raising a child. Within The Fragility of Fatherhood, he aims to share these struggles of the modern family – the domestic life, marriage, finances and wondering whether you’re being a good enough parent – as well as depicting how roles are still very much moulded, and fathers are still expected to remain strong and emotionless.

But it’s 2019 and the ideals of fatherhood have indeed changed. No longer are men expected to be the breadwinners, fitting into the bracket of the hunter/gather macho-male persona, and the role of the woman has become a more equal and respected one. Yet there is still some room for judgements of weakness, or signs that fathers are doing too little.

Colby channels these feelings of unease into a glorious collection of photographs. He describes his work as his family album, filled with warm embraces, delicate moments and documentary-style black and white pictures of his son. Even those who haven’t experienced fatherhood themselves can see how emotional, vulnerable and beautiful it can be.

The family album is a prominent theme throughout his work. Colby’s previous project, Examining The Relics, is a study of the family photo album, where he “gained an appreciation for the images that are chosen and how each image gets place within”.

Albeit drawn towards photography as a means of understanding the world around him, Colby, most poignantly, tends to turn his lens inward towards his children and wife – knowing that one day, these images will become his own autobiography.

“I see the way the light hits your face as you cry out for warmth, I see how it hits your face and shows the lines of wisdom, through the good and the bad. We are the quiet and unspoken, yet we scream the loudest,” Colby continues in the letterhead for The Fragility of Fatherhood.

“Rest your tired eyes. I will cover you in warmth. We will move past this and carve out our own light against the darkest skies. As the words, Are you Okay fade from our lives.”

All images: © Troy Colby

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