If the idea of taking an extensive road trip with your kids only conjures up images of gas station bathrooms, fights over hotel bed arrangements, and a constant chorus of "Are we there yet?", take a deep breath and dive into the images of Wild & Precious, a photo series documenting father-daughter road trips over the course of five years. Dad of three Jesse Burke is a photographer with a keen interest in nature -- and he's intent on passing that affinity on to his kids. Through his portraits of traveling companion and daughter Clover, Burke trains his eye on a growing child in the midst of ever changing natural surroundings. The photographs depict the rugged rocky shoreline, stunning mountain vistas, shade covered forests, and everywhere in between. You'll definitely want to take a look at all this stark gorgeousness (and then plan your next family road trip adventure).
Most parents want to give their children an appreciation for the natural world, but few pursue the task as diligently and thoroughly as Burke. Born from a desire to make his child “feel at home in the wild,” Burke literally goes the distance, trekking across the country with his oldest daughter to experience the awe-inspiring and the mundane aspects of the natural world. With a steady stream of Johnny Cash playing in the background, Burke and his daughter traveled to places where they could explore nature in varied majestic forms. Although many of the photographs prominently feature his daughter, Burke also allows the viewer to see how minute humans are in comparison to the staggering dimensions of nature: the height of trees, the vastness of canyons, the immensity of a whale. At times it appears as if Clover is the only person left in a quiet, wild world.
Burke doesn’t shy away from the harshness of nature and our relationship to it, depicting a beached whale, freshly cut lumber, and the bodies of dead animals. As any nature-loving parent knows, these images (and the realization that nature isn’t just butterflies and sunflower fields) are part and parcel for children to understand both the beauty and the devastation of the environment. Burke’s camera is focused lovingly on his daughter throughout, documenting her own evolution as she grows from young child to preadolescent. As a parent, the images compel us to adventure and connect with our kids in places where there is stone, sand, wood, water, where screens (handheld or other) have no place since the largest one possible is playing right before our eyes.
Burke and his daughter’s journey have now been compiled into a book and a short film, so you can bring a little of this traveling love letter to nature and parenthood home with you. Burke is also a member of Childhood Unplugged, a group of photographers who are trying to encourage children to get back into the art of play.
All photos courtesy of Jesse Burke