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Dad’s-Eye View: Five National Geographic Photographers on Fatherhood

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Marina Yen Yen Vasarhelyi - Chin, Wilson, Wyoming, 2014.

This Father’s Day we asked five National Geographic photographers, who are also dads, to share an image of their children and tell us how fatherhood has shaped their images. They shared intimate photographs and stories of empathy, growth, memory, and hope. Happy Father’s Day!


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Madelyn embracing Meira, Norfolk, Virginia, 2015 Photograph by Matt Eich

When my daughter Madelyn was born in 2007, I was barely an adult myself at the age of 21 and not prepared for fatherhood. Madelyn was not planned, but her presence has given shape, form, and meaning to every day of my life since she arrived. She is a marker for the passage of time, reminding me of how quickly life is passing by. She is a beacon of light in an otherwise seemingly dark world. In 2012 our second daughter, Meira, was born. It is amazing to watch Madelyn transform into a nurturing and loving older sister and to witness the bond they share. Being a father changes everything about how I see the world and interact with the people I meet. When I leave home for time on the road they are always with me in the back of my mind. I find my children everywhere I go. —Matt Eich

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Campground swinging, 2000 Photograph by Ed Kashi

This image represents a moment of pure joy but also reflects the complete trust that a younger sister has for her older brother. I made this image in Southern California while working on an eight-year project about aging in America. My family and I were in the midst of a six-week cross-country working trip, so this was a moment of respite. What I’ve always cherished and admired about the relationship between my kids, who are three years apart, is the complete trust they have for one another. Isabel, the younger sibling, adores her older brother Eli and knows he would never hurt her. Moreover they trust each other’s judgment, something that has only increased over the years.

Being a photojournalist is a brutal profession for parents, especially mothers, but as a father who has missed literally more than half of my kids’ lives this is probably the hardest part of being in this profession. Having said that, I could not imagine surviving without my family. I’ve been enriched as a photographer and human being, sensitized to a wider scope of human emotion and empathy through my kids. —Ed Kashi

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Juno Liana Huey, 2015 Photograph by Aaron Huey

This photo of my daughter, Juno Liana Huey, was taken five weeks ago, on the first day of her life. The image was made seconds after she opened her eyes and looked at me for the first time—the first time she really stared into my eyes and connected with me through sight. It is a very special photograph for me, because in many ways it was her first photograph of me—the first real visual imprint of her father.

Photography has been a big part of my life with both my children. My son, Hawkeye Huey (who is now five) and I use it as an excuse to go on adventures together and meet people he wouldn’t meet any other way. I am often asked if I want my children to follow in my footsteps with photography, but for me photography is just one vehicle I use to make art with, one way to explore, communicate, and educate. The world Juno and Hawkeye will grow up in will be so different than the world of my youth. I hope as a father that my children will find exciting new ways to see, and create, and experience this life with or without cameras and that they can move through their time in this world with their eyes truly open. —Aaron Huey

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Marina Yen Yen Vasarhelyi-Chin, Wilson, Wyoming, 2014 Photograph by Jimmy Chin

I shot this image of Marina outside our home in Wilson, Wyoming. She was 15 months old. It was bitterly cold out so I bundled her up like the Michelin Man. She could barely waddle around but she was excited to be in the snow. There are a lot of “firsts” at this age and this was one of the first times she went sledding. I’ve spent a lot of my career documenting expeditions, trying to preserve special moments in time. Shooting with my daughter, albeit a little less physically demanding (so far), is really no different. —Jimmy Chin

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Logan, 2015 Photograph by Mark Thiessen

It isn’t easy being a father and a photographer at the same time. Traveling takes me away from the volleyball and baseball games that I love to see because my kids are much better at these sports than I ever was. I rationalize it as a trade-off. Although I’m sometimes not around for birthdays and holidays, I try to bring back unique experiences from the field.

Sometimes I bring home fun photography toys to play with. Recently, I wanted to experiment using a drone as a lighting platform and I needed a helper. What 14-year-old boy wouldn’t want to play with that? So Logan and I headed to the local park at dusk. Logan was apprehensive to take the controls after he saw me crash it a few times earlier in the day. Up it went into the twilight, Logan masterfully steering the drone as only an experienced video gamer could, and better than I ever could.

This Father’s Day I will be on assignment, out of the country. But I will be using my flash-equipped drone that Logan and I played with in the park. And when I clumsily steer it over the archeological dig site, I will think back to the fun we had that evening in the park. —Mark Thiessen

Jessie Wender has curated several collections from National Geographic photographers, such as Moments of Motherhood, Six Images of Mistakes Gone Right, and Picturing Love.

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