• January 22, 2015

Instants: Broad Brushstrokes

In our series Instants, the Proof staff brings you a snapshot of recent dispatches from the @natgeo Instagram feed. Follow us to experience more from National Geographic on Instagram.

Photographer Aaron Huey is a Renaissance man of sorts. Known for his poetic stories on the people of Svanetia and the Lakota, Huey is thoughtful, energetic, and versatile. It’s almost impossible to keep track of where in the world he is, whether it’s in the desert with his son Hawkeye, in the wilds of Denali, Alaska, or hiking around Siberia. Over the years, Huey built a personal relationship with late folk artist Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain in California. Wherever he goes, he has a broad but defined vision for the work he does. It’s steeped in passion and determination. In a world where everyone has a camera or smartphone, it’s important for a photographer to have vision.

Here we share a small glimpse of Huey’s recent travels: a roadside stop in South Dakota, Sufism in Pakistan, Salvation Mountain in California, a casino in Las Vegas, and a high-altitude vista on a mine in Alberta, Canada.

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Ron and George Jr. Outside Rapid City, South Dakota

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Dogon burial chambers in the Bandiagara cliffs, Mali

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A pilgrim runs his hand along solid silver doors with verses from the Koran at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, a Sindhi scholar, mystic, and poet. One of my favorite shrines in Pakistan—his tomb is surrounded at all hours by the faithful, many of whom gather to sing his poetry in the evenings. This is from an ongoing series on Sufism.

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The caretaker of a Sufi shrine in Multan, Pakistan

Leonard Knight’s paint brushes at Salvation Mountain, his 27-year project in southern California. Leonard built a man-made mountain from hay bales, trees, tires, adobe, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of paint. The U.S. Congress registered it as a “folk art site worthy of protection” in 2000.

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New York, New York Casino, Las Vegas, from a larger series of American portraits

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Thinking about this man today. Working on a book about the life and art of Leonard Knight and Salvation Mountain with Outsider Books for a February 1 release.

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Syncrude tailings pond near Fort McKay, Alberta, from a tar sands project for Outside magazine.

Follow Aaron Huey on Twitter and Instagram.

There are 2 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Gautam
    February 20, 2015

    A phone camrea is still a camrea. The use of filters and special effects need not be employed as is suggested. One can shoot just as straight with a phone camrea as with any camrea. Photoshop may or may not be used with any photograph, so the phone camrea in and of itself has nothing to do with manipulation of an image.The phone camrea as part of popular culture only means photography is now becoming a common language . Great! Does not mean suddenly everyone is a great photographer any more than the use of the 300 words in the English language, used by anyone over 6, will be a poet , a novelist, a playwright, a journalist, or even articulate. Human nature precludes that some will use any tool better than others. This photo commonality will only raise the aesthetic bar higher, not take it lower. It will allow for real authorship, rather than tech expertise.It is very strange for me than some in our business would fear or condemn any tool which takes pictures. Why is an iPhone any more of a gimmick than a pinhole camrea? One may choose quality level any way they choose. Yet any camrea in the hands of a real author will yield something magic. The more of them out there trying , the more special the talented will become.David Alan Harvey/Magnum

  2. Ramiro Perez Ramirez
    January 22, 2015


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