Columbus, Ohio-based photographer Aaron Sheldon was riding the bus with his young son Harrison when he had an epiphany.
“What was a normal everyday event for me had him completely transfixed,” he writes. “I realized that my son is an explorer, and that the world I take for granted, to him, is an amazing place filled with new sites and experiences.”
Later that week, the two were discussing bravery during a visit to the doctor’s office when young Harrison provided further inspiration. “What about astronauts, Dad?” he asked. “Are they brave enough?”
What started as a simple game of pretend to get through a medical appointment soon expanded to an ongoing photo series with Astronaut Harrison in the starring role, exploring the world around him, and, more recently, addressing the role that autism has in how Harry sees that world.
We recently asked Sheldon a few questions about the project and his photographs to share this heartwarming story as a Father’s Day treat.
All photos © Aaron Sheldon, Documentary Dads
Jill Waterman: Your project Small Steps Are Giant Leaps started as a way to avert your three-year-old son’s fears of certain places and objects by referencing the bravery of people such as astronauts. Did your son (Astronaut Harrison) already have an interest in astronauts, or did he already own an astronaut helmet when you had that first conversation about bravery?
Aaron Sheldon: Shortly before we started the project, Harry got an astronaut helmet from the gift shop at our local science museum, and he was enjoying learning about the planets and space travel.