Families — Parents — Kids

Following in Dad's Footsteps: The Stunning Photography of Aaron Newman and His Son

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young boy photographer

I think it's the universal desire of fathers of all backgrounds to overhear their sons saying to their friends, "I wanna be just like my dad." One problem with being an outdoor photographer is that it's often grueling work with long hikes, exposure, funky camping, and bizarre meals - things surely to turn off any 11-year-old varmint in the modern era. For Aaron Newman (www.capturinglightandemotion.com), the story is different. "Trevor and I both enjoy many outdoor activities including hiking, shooting guns, shooting cameras, and camping. We also enjoy playing sports such as golf and football. One of the things we both enjoy the most is getting out and exploring blue highways, dirt roads and trails anywhere we can. It can be on the way to National Parks across the United States or even just a random road in one of Arizona’s deserts."

His son enjoys picking up the camera and hanging out with dad. Here's their cool story.

- Mark Stephens, AdventureParents.com

Your photos are incredible. I want some beta. What are you willing to share?

I have only seen a very small percentage of all the amazing places there are to see in Southwest - let alone the U.S. - but I do have a couple favorites. Currently my favorite region is the area north of Flagstaff. The geology is just amazing including lava tube caves, seasonal waterfalls, the Grand Canyon, slot canyons, painted deserts, and petrified sand dunes to name just a few. Then if you factor in the tribal people and their culture, it is really an amazing region that I think is unmatched by anywhere else in the world.

If I was to only pick three I would have to say Page AZ tops the list, the Lava River Tube Cave outside of Flagstaff is second (as I am still chasing my perfect shot in there), and then the Sonoran Desert South of the Phoenix Metro area as it is close to my house and an area that has some hidden gems.

When did you pick up photography and why?

Before photography I use to do pencil and pen & ink drawings. I purchased a Canon AE-1 camera at a pawnshop in Prescott, AZ back in 1996 and taught myself black and white film photography. The idea was to take photographs and then later draw them on a larger scale.  As I learned photography I gave up on spending several months on one particular drawing in favor of capturing unique light.

Trevor's a Great Photographer!

He will pass me up as a photographer.  He is currently shooting an Olympus E-300 dslr with two lenses. He has his own URL which leads to his photos in a section on my website: www.TRNPhotos.com

Does he like the hiking and early mornings that come with hanging out with a photographer-dad?

I have been pretty easy on him to this point. Most of the trips he accompanies me on are more ‘road warrior’ trips than hardcore remote photo locations.  We usually log around 1800 miles in seven days and stay in anything from a hotel, cowboy cabin, pup tent, to even sleeping in the car. He does pretty well on these trips but needs a real bed and some good rest after a few days of hard driving and random hikes.

He has yet to experience a 3am wake-up and a two-mile hike in the dark in the hopes of getting a decent sunrise shot, but that experience is coming real soon for him.

So, what's your camping set up?  Minimalist, Glamper, or Happy Medium? Tell me about it, no matter how "untrendy" it is.

Definitely not making any magazines with my camping setups. What I take depends on how long we are going and who is going. The road warrior trips are pretty light on gear, whereas weekend camping trips with my son and friends include a 15x10 cabin tent, cots, folding table, chairs, and sometimes even a full size gas grill for those camping cookouts.

A photo trip without the boy can be a pup tent, table, a chair, and a small gas grill or nothing more than a sleeping bag and an ice chest.  

I am going to have to join the trendy crowd and pickup an ARB fridge as I see the advantages of it in many aspects of my life and travels.  I am slowly being sold on a roof top tent (RTT) as well but that is a ways down the trail.

A GPS and a topo map get into a fist fight.  Who wins and why?

The map would eventually win, as the GPS would try to use a road that has been washed out for two decades and the batteries would die at the most crucial point.

My p.o.s. Garmin Nuvi is my nearest-gasoline-and-food-finder more than anything else. I do, however, use the "Where Am I" feature on occasion. My current process is to list GPS locations on a map of major junctions/crossroads and which direction to head at that location.  If the map doesn’t match the trails or it is hard to determine which road is correct I use the where am I feature and then compare that to my list.  This has proven to be very effective so far.

What's better: taking your backpack off at the end of the day, or watching your son build the campfire?

I can’t describe the feeling I had on my last camping trip when my boy started his first fire. We were on a weekend trip to Page with Expedition Portal member "Safado" and camping at Alstrom Point above Lake Powell. I told my son he was to start the fire without any paper or lighter fluid, only the natural grass, sticks, and the wood we brought with us. He was given a couple matches and I went to check out a couple viewpoints and get shots of the campsite -- expecting to come back to a frustrated kid and no fire. When I returned he had the fire going as requested without any assistance from Safado or use of man-made products (besides the matches). The feeling was one of surprise and of great pride.

While it is always a relief to strip that photo pack off knowing both hiking and shooting are done for the day – there is no greater feeling than seeing my son enjoying the outdoors.

What do you think are the three things that make a great photograph?

For me photography really comes down to two things: Light and Emotion.

In today’s digital age people worry too much about the rules, cloning out distractions or imperfections, or creating a technically perfect image. What they forget is that photography is an art and that allows it to be open to all kinds of interpretation and feelings beyond the technical aspects. Great photography wows you with amazing light or tells a story without using any words.  I would rather hear one person comment about the unique light or the emotions they feel when looking at one of my images, than a thousand people telling me the image is technically perfect.



Dave G.
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# Dave G. 2010-09-20 07:39
So what kind of camera is Aaron using? Amazing pictures and story BTW!!
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Aaron Newman
+1 / 0
# Aaron Newman 2010-09-20 13:41
Dave G.- I am currently shooting an Olympus E-3 and have two Olympus E-500 cameras as backups.
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0 / 0
# Ben 2010-09-21 08:31
Wow great pictures, great story. Love the father and son aspect. Made my day.
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Nathan Woods
0 / 0
# Nathan Woods 2010-09-21 10:06
Very, very cool. And what a great idea giving Trevor webspace on your smug account. I am totally going to do that same thing with my own kids. What a great opportunity to teach so many different things. Cheers!
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