Poignant, touching, beautiful, funny…these are the words that describe the photographs in Pop: A Celebration of Black Fatherhood by Carol Ross. For the book, Carol photographed African-American fathers interacting with their children and asked them to share their thoughts on fatherhood. Gayle talks to Carol about the inspiration behind Pop and her creative process.
Carol says she was inspired to write the book by her own father and husband, who she says are two of the best fathers she's ever known. In addition, Carol says that over the years she has accumulated many images of fathers with their children—and she decided to create an entire book dedicated to all the great dads out there.
At the same time, she says she saw writing the book as an opportunity to portray African-American fathers, who she says often receive bad publicity, in a positive light. "There are a lot of black men waking up every day, making it happen for their kids, and it's not acknowledged," she says.
For the book, Carol invited a mix of celebrity dads and not-so-famous fathers to participate. "I didn't want anyone to overshadow the fathers—everyone [was represented] equally—and they're all normal dads, whether they're celebrities or not," she says. Her friend, actor Samuel L. Jackson, wrote the book's forward.
Carol says she shot all the photographs in black-and-white to coincide with her artistic vision. "Black-and-white is honest, it's raw, it's edgy, it is what it is," she says. "I wanted a real photograph, so that when another father opened this up, he felt like, 'Yeah, that's me!'" Carol says the photo shoots aimed to be revealing and authentic, too. "I wanted to be a fly on the wall and capture moments together," she says.
Carol also asked each of the fathers pictured in the book to share some thoughts about fatherhood, which she included next to their photograph. She says their comments made the book complete. "Their words really brought it home," Carol says. "I just didn't imagine how powerful the whole book would be once the words came into place."