• November 11, 2013

Aaron Huey on Shattering Assumptions

“I think great photography … wakes people up to the diversity of the world and to the lives that are so different than our own.” —Aaron Huey

Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. In Oglala spirituality, heyokas are recipients of sacred visions who employ clownish speech and behavior to provoke spiritual awareness and “keep balance,” says Good Voice Elk. Through his mask, he channels the power of an inherited spirit, which transforms him into Spider Respects Nothing.
Stanley Good Voice Elk, a heyoka, burns sage to ritually purify his surroundings. From the August 2012 National Geographic story “In the Shadow of Wounded Knee”

Aaron Huey believes in photography’s “power to undo your assumptions about the world.” In Huey’s first story for National Geographic magazine, “In the Shadow of Wounded Knee” he explored the lives of the Oglala Lakota people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. His assignment evolved into a seven-year community storytelling project dedicated to sharing more voices from the Pine Ridge community members. Huey has given a TED talk, was a 2012 Stanford Knight Fellow, and has been honored multiple times by Pictures of the Year International and World Press Photo. —Julia Wall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read stories from the Pine Ridge Community Storytelling project

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

Follow Aaron Huey on his website and on Instagram.

Video Production Credits
Photography: Aaron Huey
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Julia Wall, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM
Shannon Sanders, NGM

There are 28 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. rajan
    November 23, 2014

    sir,u r great

    September 25, 2014

    hi!! sir,,, i love nature and wildlife photography so much than anyone else even my parents .i have a collection of nature pics but i don;i know that where and how to use them.. i saw your pics those all were amazing and full of silence and inspirations. plzzzz suggest me that how to apply for your magazine i.e., national geographic magazine

  3. April Maloney
    August 9, 2014

    Just a note to say Hi.. and I am still watching.

    • Dolors Bas Vall
      August 11, 2014

      Fabulous !!superb project

  4. mateen ahmed
    January 5, 2014

    fabouless pictures of national geographic channel

  5. Dolors Bas
    December 6, 2013

    awesome photo ….. sensitive …. different .. and with outstanding quality

  6. don thomson
    December 3, 2013

    My great grandmother Adelaide was one of sitting bulls last tribe members, wood mountain sask.canada

  7. kamal kwrd
    November 23, 2013

    this picture is meaning of sadness human often human can’t be free or can’t be visiting all of the world..it covered the beauty face and make it or have it a darkness,smoke and sometime human want to war.it’s so nice photo thanx

  8. Ferling
    November 18, 2013

    Thus we understand the purpose for taking photographs, and why the likes of NG need to invest so much in order to go beyond the average tourist. Even if it’s in our own backyards.

  9. GH
    November 17, 2013

    All this guy says it´s rigth. The photography can be like a ligth in the darkness. Gives to our mind respect. Brings us to a open hearth and mind. Give us the present of love the foreigners, make equals all the men.

  10. Dolors Bas
    November 17, 2013

    a photo awesome !!!

  11. Rebecca Lihong
    November 17, 2013

    You gifted

  12. Margaret Jenkins
    November 17, 2013

    I believe!

  13. sajib
    November 16, 2013


  14. Connie Koehler
    November 16, 2013

    Aaron, thank you for sharing. I’m still just a novice, but my interest of photography is grand. I love to take pictures and I always have. I am very happy you stated your last statement, “…with the voice and images of the people, whether trained or not, we will never be able to tell the truth.” Thank you.

  15. Aaron Huey
    November 16, 2013

    Kimiko, thats part of the point of the interview and the link is embedded below it. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/08/pine-ridge/community-project-intro

  16. Linda Cutler
    November 16, 2013

    Fabulous. You have a god given talent.

  17. Peggy Lathlin
    November 16, 2013

    I have always said that there is beauty all around us, you just have to know when to capture those moments & to freeze them in time. I love taking pictures, although I’m an amateur, I feel I can capture the essence of creating breathtaking images, because they are laid out right before our very own eyes!

  18. Roland Del Mar
    November 16, 2013

    Inspiring 🙂

  19. Brian Carey
    November 16, 2013

    There are so many “avenues” you can take with photography, always great to see what direction others are taking!

  20. AwesomePhotoBtw
    November 16, 2013

    Nya Nya Nya =’^_^’=

  21. William Hooton
    November 16, 2013

    I’m glad someone is reporting on the Oglala Lakota. Americans always seem to.forget those people who they have driven into submission. Sometimes I am sad for the sins of my country.

  22. Brian Flaigmore
    November 14, 2013

    Hey Kimiko, you should check out http://cowbird.com/huey/collection/pineridge/
    there are some stories and photos taken by people at Pine Ridge.

  23. Kimiko
    November 13, 2013

    Photography is also full of power dynamics. Whose in front of the lens, whose taking the picture? Who decides when to take a photo? Who decides who sees the photo? Issues of voyuerism, exploitation, profit and gain, culture vulturism, etc….all these difficult questions need to be asked. I would love to see an Oglala Lakota from Pine Ridge photograph their own community, receive props and honors, and dialogue with Aaron about the different perspectives!

  24. Amrutha Bushan
    November 13, 2013

    “..Photography has the power to undo your assumptions about the world..” Wow.

  25. Lily
    November 12, 2013

    It is so great project!!!

  26. MARk
    November 12, 2013

    For some reason the video is not playing on my browser. I am using Chrome on a PC.

  27. Wellington Gonye
    November 11, 2013

    It is truly honourable to work, persevere at bridging gaps that convolute in temporal fissures separating uniquely diverse peoples of a straggling world.

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