Scottish Dads Through a Fresh Lens

Photographer Eoin Carey talks about his new ‘Father’ project which documents the tender and tired routines of everyday fatherhood. And what life is like for him as a single parent.

Scottish Dads Through a Fresh Lens

Eoin Carey is one of Scotland’s leading portrait and documentary photographers.

With over 13 years experience working in Arts and Entertainment, he has captured countless famous faces from George McKay to Danny Boyle as well as a diverse range of exciting, dramatic performances from artists at the National Theatre and rising stars at Glasgow Barrowlands.

However, more recently he has turned his lens towards capturing the quieter, tender and tired routines of everyday fatherhood through his 'Father' photographic project.

Find out more about the Father project

What is the ‘Father’ Project?

Father Project BookI made ‘Father’ with local dads in Glasgow. I wanted it to show them with their children in natural, domestic settings and capture the intimacy, stress, play and poetry of parenthood. It playfully looks at parenting from the point of view of fathers and seeks to counter the perceived stereotypes that still remain of fathers being either heroes, incompetent or simply absent, and shows the significance of a father's role in their children's lives.


What inspired ‘Father’?

Father Project

The project is inspired by my own experience of early parenthood as a single dad. Witnessing so many fleeting moments of chaos and beauty but without a free hand to document them, I wished that another set of eyes could have captured his experience.

I realised how much of parenthood goes undocumented apart from the smiles and the selfies, and how valuable it is for fathers and families to have a record of the ordinary, routine moments of parenthood and recognise the beauty in the private, imperfect, downright chaotic moments in the labour and love that is caring for a child.

What's the best thing about being a Dad? 

The best thing about being a dad for me is the constant sense of play and playfulness you get to have with children. I didn't know before becoming a parent that I really enjoy spending time with kids and get on with them really well. I find them so funny, delightful and extraordinarily intelligent, at all ages. I also really appreciate the gentle and more caring side of myself that I get to show to my daughter that I wasn't really in touch with before she came along. 

What's the biggest struggle about being a Dad? 

The biggest struggle is the juggle. I am a single parent and have been since my child was born. I co-parent her now with her mum and I also work freelance. Getting to the end of a week where all the pick ups, drop offs, classes, appointments, playdates and work commitments are all squared away is a rare and very challenging thing. There isn't family who can help nearby so support can be very thin at times which means there are moments where I am choosing between work and wages, or caring for my child. She is in school now so the strike days and recent sick days have been eye opening. Also, parenting across two households is a total unknown for me, coming from a nuclear family. It definitely throws up its own challenges and I am always trying to understand what the impact is for my child as she grows and develops. 

What one thing would improve your life, and the lives of Dads in Scotland? 

I think most dads would advocate for better parental leave when their children are born and better recognition from the workplace about the role of caring that they have. As someone who works freelance, and I know many others that do, I have received no leave or support with childcare and have just had to force my working life to fit around the ever changing schedule of my child. I am sure I am not alone but when school started I couldn't quite believe how quickly 3pm came around and how hard it is to achieve a working day around school structure. I would certainly feel the benefit of better after-school care options. 

How do you think society sees Dads these days? 

There is definitely change in the air. I see more and more fathers in the streets and parks and shops and libraries with their children solo. There is a greater sense of confidence and normality in a lot of fathers I see and I think this is fantastic. From a society point of view however, I am aware that change is slow and hard won. I do think there are still a lot of assumptions about fathers and men in general and the stereotypes of dads from film and ads of being incompetent, heroic or absent are not that old. Things are moving away from those old tropes and many many more men are realising they can be, and want to be, part of their children's lives but there is still a long way to go before there is more balance.

Discover more work by Eoin Carey