Filed in Portraits — May 5, 2021

dear alaska dad

You have a bad rep. We have heard a million times that you are the problem with family photos: the stick-in-the-mud, the photo grinch who has to be bribed or forced against his will to don a starched shirt and bright smile. “I had to beg him for this session…” “He will be the most difficult part…” “He finally agreed after 10 years!” Sometimes even men feel like they are just an accessory to photos, the silent figure in the background of the frame. The wallet that has to show up, grin and bear it.

We take photos of hundreds of families per year and it’s true that it is not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes we can tangibly feel the weight of the argument you and your wife just had in the car. Sometimes we can see your discomfort when you are forced to wear clothes that don’t even look like you, tags still attached and ready to be returned. (Wives, pleassssse don’t do this. Let him be remembered as himself. Your photos will thank you.) But sometimes, a lot of times, you were put in a “grinch” box before you were even given a chance to be rise to the occasion…we have been mulling this over a lot lately and think that maybe people are wrong about you. Maybe your reputation isn’t really fair.

The truth is, you are tough in all the ways that matter. You work hard, you play hard, you hunt and fish and gather. You are a provider. A man’s man. And you hate the flipping starched shirt. (By the way, so do we. It’s not who you are.) You are really the backbone of our images. You are always the one that gets the first natural smile, when you toss your daughter against the skyline, hair whipping wildly in the wake of her laughter. You are the real deal. You are the tickle, the wrestle, the doubled-over-laughing. You are the inappropriate whisper in your wife’s ear, right before she finally throws her head back and laughs with her whole body.

Whether you think you like taking photos or not, you are the one we rely on. The steady ship. The anchor. The instigator. The ice breaker. Truly the most beautiful moments we capture are when your sons and daughters become most themselves in your strong arms. You are the author of that moment. Mom’s give it their all, they plan every tiny detail that they can think of, obsess over the what-ifs, dress a family, do a lot of legwork, but they still need you. And as awesome of photographers as we aspire to be, we also fall short. You are completely irreplaceable. No one’s like dad.

So we wanted to take a moment and thank you.

As wives: thank you for giving us this treasure of your time and energy. Thanks for actually being who you are instead of how we think we want you to be in our photos. Thanks for wearing your Carhart’s like a boss. Thanks for making our kids look at you like you are the sun and the moon and stars. Because you are.

As children: Thanks for always playing with us and making us laugh until we almost pee our pants. Thanks for making us feel special and safe. And even though we might not know it yet, thanks for taking the time to take these photos that one day we will look back on and feel it all over again. You love us. And it shows.

As photographers: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy life and trusting us to give you and your family something of beauty that will last forever. We appreciate you and your quirky ways, even your stubbornness and dry humor. Thanks for your willingness to let us lead you and for always keeping it real.

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