We first discovered this work after it was submitted to the Portrait Awards 2015. Although it was not chosen as a finalist by the jury, the editors of LensCulture were impressed and decided to publish this feature article about it. Enjoy!

No other country provides such generous terms of parental leave as Sweden. The current system allows both parents to stay at home with their child during 480 days in total, while receiving an allowance from the State. Out of these 480 days, 60 must be taken by the father or else are lost.

Loui, an artist, took leave for one year to be with his son Elling:

“There was never any discussion about who should stay with Elling. That we would split parental leave more or less equal has always been obvious to us. Had I not had the opportunity to be at home with our son for almost a year, I would probably not have known who he is as a person and what his needs are.”

The purpose of this allocation is to improve gender equality. In order to promote a more equal sharing of parental leave between men and women, a so called “equality bonus” has also been introduced. The more days that are shared between parents, the higher the bonus—it’s possible to receive up to 1, 500 euros.

In spite of the generous allowance and cash incentives, only a fraction of Sweden’s dads use all of their 60 allocated days of parental leave. Even fewer parents choose to share the days equally between mother and father.

These portraits seek to examine the relationship between father and child, highlighting the bond built over stretches of time spent together, and the benefits of taking time off work for family.

—Johan Bävman