Who better to understand the beauty of Black Fatherhood than someone who captures their candid moments? Meet Naisha, a heartwarming and bold Photographer and entrepreneur in the St. Louis area. Naisha is the Founder and Photographer of YoSnap Photo Booth and Photography, and has also created the Black Fatherhood Project. Her purpose is to help debunk negative narratives of fathers and instead offer a positive light to their experiences. Her spirit, work ethic, passion, and the Black Fatherhood Project gained enough traction to appear on the Kelly Clarkson Show. This project continues to make a powerful impact on Black Fathers to spread positivity around the community. “I shoot black fathers–no guns needed.”
Origin of the Black Fatherhood Project
Naisha mentions that the project started as a Father’s Day mini session offering. After noticing what incredible things that she saw behind the lens, she recognized that someone else needed to see this. Naisha recognizes that there are people who don’t really value photography for what it is and aren’t able to understand how powerful capturing positive black fatherhood really is. She sees the most popular public picture of black men are mugshots, and she wants black fathers to know, “you are more than a mugshot.”
Therefore, Naisha put together this project where men can have a shoot for $8.46 (in honor of George Floyd) and capture the beauty and positivity of black fathers. Before each shoot, Naisha confesses that she prays over her session, prays over her camera, and prays for God to have His way in capturing everything that the world needs to see about Black fatherhood. This shows the passion, the love, and the intentionality Naisha possesses to ensure positivity within the black community—something that is more than necessary in this time. Look what those prayers have sewed.
Relationship with Dad
Naisha disclosed that through the numerous interviews she has participated in relating to her Project, she has never been asked about the relationship of the project to the relationship with her own father. She saw this as a general assumption that most believed she had to have a positive relationship with her dad to create such a positive project. Nonetheless, she was glad that this question was posed to explore her own thoughts about her dad, and for others to see the true motivation of this Project. She bravely and vulnerably unpacked such a touching topic for her.
Naisha reflected that her dad was involved but was not consistent. When they spent time together, it was such a fond memory. She remembers gutting fish after fishing and going to pow wows. But even so, he was not consistent.
The positive image of fatherhood actually came from “being married to a wonderful man” (her husband) and seeing how her husband provided for their kids. She always reflects that she wished she had that type of father as a kid, and recognized that as she got older, her struggles with her dad really impacted her life. Naisha contributed the difference in fatherhood to a shift in ideology around parenting. She mentioned that in the older generations, being a father meant to make money, raise the kids, but not to provide emotionally. She sees that there is a new type of black father that arose in the millennials—more hands on and emotionally driven. The relationship with her dad and the reflections of such has been the driving force to show positive black fatherhood in response to her less involved dad. Naisha passionately continues the calling to rewrite negative narratives into positive ones and to share more smiles for herself and others.
Juggling the Johnsons
Naisha and her family have a YouTube show called “Juggling the Johnsons” to showcase and highlight a healthy black family. As mentioned, she recognizes that there is a lot of media profit on drama and trauma exploited within the Black community; therefore, they seek to use this show to bustle down the stereotypes of black families and show people that there are real, and healthy, black families. Naisha recognizes that society puts people in boxes, so they hope that Juggling the Johnsons helps to break open those boxes and allow people to live as they deserve.
Five Characteristics of Black Fathers
Naisha highlights five things black fathers have that make them so powerful and incredible for the community and for their family. Naisha highly reflected and thought about her husband in each of these responses.
1) Their smile! She loves to see when black men smile and hopes that black men continue to smile a lot more.
2) Their sacrifices for their family. She loves that her husband not only sacrifices for her children, but also for their extended family.
3) They are a mentor. Black fathers always serve as such a powerful role model for the community.
4) Their love and close bonds. She is happy to see that more black fathers are okay with showing love and being intimate.
5) Pride. Naisha holds a lot of pride in being a black woman, so she loves to see how black men hold pride in the lineage and where they come from.
“I thank you for the smiles. I thank you for your kisses and hugs. I thank you for being there the times you were present, because when I’m with you it’s a good time, it’s fun, and there were always lessons. But, I wish you were there more. I wish you were consistent and I wish you didn’t make mom carry everything. I wish you cared more to be there for us and present in our lives.”
Words of Advice?
“If you find something you love, stay consistent. Give yourself a year, nurture it and pour into it. If you wake up every day and it doesn’t feel like a job, then keep going. Go through the highs and lows. That’s the risk, so take the risk.”
Naisha mentions that her biggest blessings have come from her biggest risks, and she “jumps off the porch even when it’s scary”. She reminds us all to give ourselves grace. Yo Snap, she’s a really dope person.
To learn more about the Project, or any other great things that Naisha is doing, follow her business page @yosnapstl on IG.