I went many years without asking a crucial question about my photographic obsession with hats.

Why?

I think I was afraid of the answer. I think I still am. It’s such a visceral attraction—one that often has me going to great lengths to capture the “man in the hat”—that I’ve jumped into oncoming traffic and put myself in harm’s way to get the shot.

I knew it was something deep inside me. I avoided thinking about the why for so long, but I’ve finally come to terms with the answer.

First, it’s not a fashion statement and it’s not about the hats themselves—it is about the man under the fedora. It’s really about looking for the father I never had. I’m searching for my dad and in a twisted way a man in a hat is the ideal 1950s stereotype of a father figure.

So, I keep coming back to the streets, searching, searching, searching…

—Richard Koci Hernandez