More than 1,300 of you submitted around 3,000 pictures, and more than 20,000 votes were recorded, which created a short list of 10 finalists per country. The result: 12 winning pictures from four different European countries that will be featured in Flickr’s 2014 European calendar.
Without further ado, here are the selected winners:
Street photographer Zun Lee, known on Flickr as eudæmon, has always been attracted to capturing images of parents and children. Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, he’s drawn to these moments – specifically fathers and sons. For Zun, exploring this relationship is deeply personal, especially after learning a family secret that changed his life forever.
"In 2004, I learned that I was the offspring of a black man," says Zun. "It was a bit of a surprise. I didn’t know about this until much later in life. Basically my mom had a brief romantic relationship with a black man. When she told him she was pregnant with me, he disappeared."
Zun’s Korean mother moved to Germany in the 1960s. After he was born, she married a Korean journalist and they both raised him. Throughout Zun’s life, despite their problematic relationship, his stepfather was the only father he had known. This new revelation not only shocked him, but left him extremely hurt.
"There was a lot of anger, resentment and confusion on my part," Zun admits. "But it was easy for me to hang on to that hurt and not deal with it. Because for me, as long as I could project my feelings of resentment onto a negative stereotype, I could conveniently push it aside and say, ‘I guess I’m just part of the absent black father narrative myself, so what else is new?’"
Zun grew up to become a doctor, but still had lingering questions and thoughts about his identity. Over time, in an effort to understand that stigma of black fatherhood, he began to explore and dissect it.
"It’s a very polarizing discussion," says Zun. "When we talk about black fathers, the imagery associated is that they’re irresponsible, they’re absent, they’re deadbeats and not willing to pick up their share of personal responsibility. The examples to counter the negative stereotypes are Dr. Cliff Huxtable or even Barack Obama. It’s one or the other. There’s very little about the everyday dad who may not be perfect, but is still a part of his child’s life."
It’s this idea that set off the theme of his latest work – Father Figure, an exploration into the lives of real black fathers. Zun wanted to delve into the lives of men who made the choice to be active participants in the lives of their children – in a sense, go beyond the stereotype.
"I wanted to show very authentic, true moments of fatherhood," Zun says. "But I also saw an opportunity to find a connection or resolution to the feelings that I had towards the father I’ve never known."
In the beginning, finding the kind of fathers Zun was looking for wasn’t easy. He didn’t have a specific image in mind – solely because he wanted to break away from common stereotypes. Zun spoke to hundreds of fathers and eventually found five families to work with on a long term basis.
"In order for me to get the images that I wanted – that for me would refute the stereotype – I knew I would really have to imbed myself into the lives of these families," Zun says. "So what that meant was, for a period of time, I had to live with them for several days or several weeks so they would get used to me being around."
During this time, Zun witnessed many things that caused him to rethink his preconceived notions of fatherhood.
"I had a lot of assumptions about what it meant to be a good father and a bad father," Zun admits. "A lot of these assumptions were shattered just by being in the presence of these fathers – just observing how they parent. A lot of them had very difficult situations but yet they still found a way to make fatherhood work for them," Zun says. "It might not be the Dr. Cliff Huxtable sense or the Barack Obama sense, but nonetheless they’re there. They’re present and their families appreciate their presence."
"When the fathers are around the kids are really upbeat and happy," Zun admits. "And for me that was a big lesson learned in sort of not just focus on fathers, but focus on the fatherly interaction. The fatherly emotion that gets reflected in the families overall. I think the most important thing about fatherhood for the children is the knowledge that they matter. And that is the most important aspect that I try to capture."
But at times, emotions touched close to home. Zun had difficulty balancing the role of photographer versus the man who never experienced love from his real father.
"It was tough," Zun admits. "Being around these families who were so forthcoming with love and affection, brought up a lot of emotions from the things I never experienced as a child." Zun adds, "Remembering to press the shutter at certain times was not necessarily the easiest thing to do."
One of those moments (and one of his favorite pictures of the series) was with the very first father he photographed, James Reynolds from Harlem, NY.
"James was teaching his son how to tie a bowtie," Zun recalls. "And his son had never done that before. So James tied a bowtie himself and sort of mirrored that behavior to his son. He [James] told his son to follow his footsteps, and it led to a moment where the son is trying to tie a bowtie. And you could see the father hovering behind in the mirror looking at his son… and kind of watching if he gets it right or not."
"Personally it was difficult because nobody taught me how to tie a bowtie," Zun admits. "So again it was sort of—here’s something that I wish my father would have helped me with. And so that was very symbolic for me."
In the end, Zun’s project was an eye opener; allowing him to witness and capture the reality of African-American fatherhood today.
"All the fathers I profiled take their responsibilities seriously and go about their business very quietly," Zun learned. "I saw the everyday father that’s doing something every day to be there for his kids. It basically shattered the stereotype; which is exactly what I wanted to show."
Witnessing so many fathers trying the best they can be, also led Zun toward the path of forgiveness and redemption about his own.
"Each of the fathers that I photographed could have been my father," Zun says, "But at the end of the day, for me personally, it wasn’t about whether I wanted to meet the man that I didn’t know existed. It was about resolving how I felt about the situation and the decisions he made. And ultimately just forgiving myself even for having certain preconceived notions about him. And for hanging onto that resentment for so long. I think this project more than anything else helped me be on that path."
The project also encouraged Zun to think about himself and his own desire to possibly become a father someday. "I think I’m much more confident now that I not only want to be a father but also that I would be a terrific one."
Do you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.
Our previous Flickr Friday theme was #CreativeCommons, and here are our favorites from your submissions.
It was a completely free theme were you were in charge of what you capture as long as you are cool with releasing it under a Creative Commons license. We saw a multitude of contributions, from landscapes to life events, from portraits to pets, from food to festivals, and from leaves to light trails. There are many more themes you can discover in the Flickr Friday group pool. Thank you for all your contributions to the ever growing pool of easy to use Creative Commons photos. Don’t forget to visit the discussion thread showcasing your favorites.
We know winter is getting closer on the Northern Hemisphere, so for our next theme we want you to remember that it’s always good to stay warm and #OnTheSunnySide. Either if you take the chance of waking up early to catch the first ray of light or just playing with the lights and shades that you find along your day. Share the brightest side of your shots with us. Our favorites of the week will be showcased right here on Flickr Blog next week.
On April 26th, 1986, one of the two worst nuclear disasters in human history (the other being the Fukushima Daiichi disaster) took place at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the then Soviet Union.
26 years later, the 30km exclusion zone surrounding the power plant is still one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the world and will remain uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.
In May and October 2012, СмdяСояd visited the Chernobyl exclusion zone to take the eerie, but at the same time moving photographs you see above. When the authorities finally evacuated the area, people were told they could presumably return after just three days, which is why most residents left their personal belongings behind. Despite the decay, it almost feels like the city of Pripyat that nearly 50,000 people once called their home has been frozen in time.
Many other photos showing different locations of Pripyat, including a school, a hospital, the "Palace of Culture" and urban scenery can be found in СмdяСояd‘s set Chernobyl & Pripyat.
Isolated in the Arabian Sea, the four islands of Yemen’s Socotra contains natural scenery unlike any other place, literally. At least 700 species of plants and animals are exclusively found in this World Heritage Site (inscribed in 2004), and the abundance of biodiversity is spread across 1,466 square miles of dunes, caves, and mountains. The naturally manicured appearance of the dragon’s blood trees — appropriately named for their blood-like red sap — symbolize the striking uniqueness of this location.
Photos are at the heart of Flickr, and we heard many of you ask for an easy way to showcase your photos offline. Today we’re happy to announce Flickr Photo Books. A clean, stunning design with a beautiful professional finish that brings your stories to life. For the first time, your photos can go from Flickr to photo book in as easy as one click.
We’re particularly excited about the creation tools we designed to do the work for you: Flickr will analyze your photos and intelligently crop, position, and place them automatically.
Your photos. Your story.
Flickr’s free terabyte of space allows all of us to share and store our photos in full resolution. These pictures also deserve the best canvas possible when you take them offline. We searched high and low, and found the finest professional printing methods and materials to showcase your photos, all at one compelling standard price. (What others consider extras, we consider standard!)
But what makes a photo book truly unique is YOU! It’s your life, your stories, and your photos. All the amazing things you share with other members of the Flickrverse every day. From the perfect shot, to your vacation adventures, 365 selfies, baby’s first step, squared circles, or the dream wedding. All the things that inspire you and all of life’s moments can be captured in your Flickr Photo Book one stunning page after another.
Each Flickr Photo Book begins with twenty pages of premium white proPhoto paper with a Lustre finish that meets every photographer’s demanding expectations. Simple layouts dedicate one photo per page in full bleed glory or with room to breathe surrounded by a margin. Bound tightly for maximum security (no loose pages here!) your top shots are wrapped in a sleek, photo wrap high-gloss hardcover complete with a matching dust jacket. No cramped formats, no awkward descriptions, no spoiled memories!
Save time, Flickr fast!
We’re moving fast to bring you new features, tools, and apps to make taking, sharing, and discovering photos fun and easy. We designed Flickr Photo Books in the same way, so you can go from a collection of photos to a photo book in minutes!
Your sets are now a gateway to creating your book: It’s as quick as hovering over a set and clicking on the book icon. Flickr will take care of the rest.
Our intelligent tools analyze, crop, position, and rearrange your photos to look their best. Or course, customization is easy with our Page tools. Slide the scale to zoom in or out, hold and drag the photo to reposition, or click the arrows in the upper right hand corner to switch between full bleed and margin.
Easily preview your book in the Storyboard view. Drag and drop to arrange photos and spreads, delete photos, or, add new ones from any of your sets.
It’s that easy! Flickr Photo Books are here just in time for the holiday season and available within the U.S.* in about a week!
Thank you for inspiring us every day to find new ways to bring your photos to life. We are extremely excited for Flickr Photo Books to find a place in your home, with your friends and family, and all the other people you’d like to share them with! And trust us when we say, we’d like to see your books. Once your books arrive at your doorstep, share your designs in the Flickr Photo Books group to let others see your beautiful work.
If you have ideas or feedback, come over to Flickr Ideas to let us know what you think.
* For those of you outside of the Continental U.S., please stay tuned we are working on bringing you Flickr Photo Books soon.
With winter quickly approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time for the first snow of the year in many places. Enjoy these snowflakes, white streets and landscapes, and take a look at more first snow photos taken in the past weeks in our image search.
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