In 2011 Zun Lee began photographing black fathers and their children in the Bronx and Harlem as well as in other urban areas (zunlee.com).
As Lee immersed himself in these families’ daily lives, he witnessed tender interactions that ran counter to stereotypes of black men as indifferent or absent fathers. Despite challenging financial and personal circumstances, the men Lee encountered were “loving, present, and responsible fathers,” he says, who worked hard to provide for and nurture their children.
For Lee, who is forty-nine, the project had personal resonance: He’d been raised in Germany by Korean parents. Then, in his thirties, he found out that his biological father was not the man who’d raised him but a black American. Lee had a fraught relationship with his Korean father, who’d been abusive to him. Though Lee never met his biological father, he was comforted by spending time with the men and children in his photographs.