It may be cliché to say that one of the greatest joys of becoming a parent is getting to watch your child experience the world for the first time. But it's absolutely true. That first step, the first taste of ice cream, the first trip to the ocean -- it's unbelievable to see how kids test out new experiences and react to them in this chaotic and exciting world. Photographer Aaron Sheldon takes this time of exploration personally with a photo series featuring his four year-old son, entitled Small Steps Are Giant Leaps. The photos, which show the little astronaut in a variety of different scenarios, remind all of us of how, in the words of Sheldon, kids are "exploring new frontiers. Our job as parents is to act as their mission control and co-pilot to make sure they can explore as much of their new world as possible." Read on for more of these adorable photographs and the poignant inspiration behind them.
Small Steps Are Giant Leaps began last year when Sheldon went on the city bus with his then three year-old and realized that this experience, which many adults simply consider part of the daily grind, was a stimulating and interesting adventure for a young child to navigate. Inspired, Sheldon began to look for other scenarios to capture his little explorer. The astronaut costume came into play during a doctor’s visit when Sheldon’s son, like many kids, balked at sitting on the exam tables. After discussing who would be brave enough to sit on an exam table, the father-son duo decided that an astronaut would definitely fit the criteria, and Sheldon’s son asked if he could wear his astronaut costume for future adventures as they imagined how astronauts did their laundry, went to the library, and got a haircut. Local Ohio companies got in on the project, helping Sheldon arrange the short photo shoots with access to hotel rooms, a local art museum, and the bus.
With his son as the focal point, Sheldon makes us see these common scenes in a whole new way. Details such as lighting, the way a space is organized, even the perspective of showing a child as he explores an adult-sized world, draw us in for a closer look. The photos serve as a visual reminder of how even the most mundane activities can be new to a child (and that a kid doing basically anything while in an astronaut suit is adorable). We love how Sheldon and his son have used the project as a way to get over his son’s fears, like hair clippers, and to spend some quality time exploring their city together.
Ultimately, Sheldon wants to turn his photo series into a gallery show and a book to remind parents of this important time of exploration and their part in it. Naturally, he has turned to crowdfunding and has launched a Kickstarter effort to raise related funds and to subsidize travels for more photo shoots as well as new space suits, saying,”a four year-old is pretty rough on wardrobe and props.” This project is such a fun way to visualize both the parenting and childhood experience of exploration, navigation, and getting to do it all over again through the eyes of our children.
All images courtesy of © Aaron Sheldon