1. This is National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey.
2. And this is his son, Hawkeye.
3. A month ago the duo started their first collaboration, a trip to Salton Sea.
4. The Salton Sea is a lake located in the Colorado desert area in Southern California.
It is also home to Slab City, a camp for recreational vehicle owners and squatters. It has no electricity, no running water, no sewers nor toilets, and no trash pickup service. The closest stores are 4 miles away.
5. This trip was the first time that Hawkeye has had his hands on a camera, but it’s clear he’s already a natural.
“Hawkeye is only 4,” Huey told BuzzFeed. “So he gravitates toward anything and everything you put in front of him. He’s still in a stage that’s between a baby and a boy.”
7. The collaboration started as a way for Huey and Hawkeye to connect as father and son.
“I thought it would be fun to see if we could both do something on a road trip that I would also enjoy, I wanted it to be art based, and since I am looking through a camera so often that seemed a good vehicle for collaborative exploration. Our trip into the desert with cameras was not about photography; it was about connecting as a father and son.”
8. But has quickly changed the way that Huey shoots.
“When Hawkeye is with me it’s about Hawkeye, not about my photos. I have to keep a very close eye on him, so I am not as focused on my own images.”
10. It also reinforced the importance of exploring the world around him.
“Hawkeye is already a very social little dude, but I think that photographing people in this way opens him up to a lifetime of communicating with people who are very different than him and different than our local community. I think so many people get locked into a comfort zone with how we see the world and who we interact with, and we do that by limiting our exposure,” Huey said.
“Photography is one way for me to shatter that comfort zone, to be reminded every day that I venture out with my camera, that there are infinite worlds to explore — that I am not the center of the universe, and that my ideas are among the many perspectives and manifestations of life that make up this world. I hope for nothing less for my son, whether it is through photography or another medium of communication. It is all really about a way of seeing and experiencing the world, and the camera is just one exercise.”
12. But most importantly, Hawkeye is having fun.
“The first time he shot I told Hawkeye that he needed to flap the Polaroid back and forth for it to develop, so now he does it with every shot right before he hands it to the person to see. I love to watch him run around showing people his photographs, and I love that they are physical objects — not just digital files in an iPhone.
“That part is important for me, and worth spending the money on real film. It turns each photo into a genuine interaction, into a conversation. Everyone is smiling when Hawkeye walks away. When we were at the open mic night at Slab City, I sat on the ground and watched Hawkeye go around meeting people and taking pictures, and by the end of the night everyone knew his name.”