Lucy Baber: “Philadelphia’s Family Photographer” and Social Activist
Combatting stereotypes plaguing Black fatherhood, one photo at a time
BY GABRIELA L. LARACCA
“Philadelphia’s Family Photographer,” Lucy Baber will be bringing her photo exhibit, 100 Black Dads, to the Banana Factory this fall.
Baber started the 100 Black Dads project in 2016, with two other talented photographers, Sabrina Guyton and Ore Adesina. Their mission was to represent the loving, hard-working and nurturing side of Black fathers in America, amidst the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The trio of photographers wanted to explore what it means to be Black while raising children in today’s culture and climate.
“I was inspired by the countless men of color in our greater Philadelphia community who show up for their families with love, tenderness and dignity every day,” said Baber.
Baber is a Philly-girl, born and raised in North East Philadelphia. After moving to Lancaster County with her family when she was nine, Baber eventually returned to the city and has lived in Mount Airy for the last 14 years, an area known nationally for being diverse and racially harmonious.
Having lived in a diverse array of areas throughout her life, she recognized lives do not look the same everywhere and not everyone gets the chance to interact with those different types of communities and lifestyles. She also recognized that some people only experience other demographics through the media.
“That really informs a lot of ideas and stereotypes about other groups of people because they don’t interact with diverse populations frequently,” she said. “I think we’re afraid of what we don’t know, and it’s really easy to form stereotypes about people.”
Through this realization, she realized she could use her art to tell a story.
“I thought maybe, if we took this approach of storytelling and focused on empathy, we can start to tell the broader story, and maybe some people who don’t live in the neighborhood that I live in, could start to see the broader picture.”
She wanted others to have the same realization she did—that fatherhood doesn’t always look the same for everyone but despite our differences, the love of parenthood is the same, universally.
“Not all fatherhood looks the same, but ultimately people are just people and none of the stereotypes we are taught to care about matter,” she said. “When you see a dad playing with his kid… [and] that kid lights up when they look at them, the rest just doesn’t matter. Love is the unifying factor.”
Her remarkable talent is even more jaw-dropping because Baber taught herself photography, with no formal schooling, through taking online classes at a website called Clickinmoms.com.
Along with the 100 Black Dads project, “Philadelphia’s Family Photographer” is known for taking family and newborn photos, but also giving back to the community with her work.
“My photography frequently allows me to support local, progressive political campaigns, protests and rallies, Philadelphia public schools and various women’s health projects,” said Baber.
The “100 Black Dads” exhibit will be installed in the Banko Gallery from Oct. 24, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021. It will also be featured online, starting at the end of October, to safely view from home.
The Banana Factory will also be offering limited capacity, in-person gallery tours of the exhibit on Nov. 10 at 10 a.m., Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 10 a.m, in accordance with all CDC, city and state health and safety guidelines.
There will also be a special First Friday virtual panel discussion on Nov. 6, 6:30 p.m., with Baber, all participating photographers and some of the fathers who volunteered for the project. The panel will be available here; registration will be required.
In lieu of print sales, Baber asks that donations be made to her chosen, Philly-based charity Waterarms Over Firearms, which celebrates the Super Soaker as a symbol of Black excellence and peace. It hopes to inspire youth interest in STEM fields, resource conservation, and non-violence.
To learn more about Lucy and the 100 Black Dads project, visit https://www.lucybaberphotography.com/100-black-dads/. For information on the exhibit, visit www.bananafactory.org.