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  • Aaron Hardin Experiences the Feelings of Fatherhood

    Aaron Hardin is 33 year-old photographer living in Jackson, TN, USA, since 15 years. He teaches photography at Union University and works on editorial assignments here and there. Inspired by his daughter’s birth, his series The 13th Spring documents his new journey as a father.

    Can you give us some background information about how you got into photography?
    I discovered photography my senior year of undergrad. Most of my friends were photographers, so I guess I kind of stumbled into it. I studied video production and digital media, so picking up photography seemed natural. Sadly, I only had a month long darkroom class under my belt before they handed me a diploma and I had to get a job. Right out of college, I worked making local TV commercials as I studied photography on the side. After a few years at the TV station, I got an opportunity to work part-time at the local newspaper. The part-time job evolved into a full-time job, and set me on a course to work as a practicing photographer. But most of my experiences with photography were “trial by fire” with little guidance from anyone else. It really wasn’t until graduate school that I began sorting out my philosophy as a photographer and an artist.

    Your series The 13th Spring was inspired by your daughter’s birth. How does it evolve from that initial subject, can you explain us the title?
    The 13th Spring 
    began simply as an exploration of my community. My wife and I found out that we were unexpectedly pregnant during my first week of grad school at the Hartford Art School. Our doctor told us that we were not going to be able to have children, so our pregnancy was a total shock. The joy and fear of becoming a father began to seep into my photographs without me even knowing. It really wasn’t until the second year of making the work that I started to connect the dots. The work was my process of reconciling the ugly, beautiful, terrible, magical world my child would be born into. My daughter reshaped many of my own perceptions about my own place and time within my community.

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    The title The 13th Spring came from the life cycle of a particular brood of cicadas that sprung from the ground a few months after my daughter was born. I remember walking to my car to go to work one morning after being up all night with my daughter. My house and yard was covered with cicadas – millions and millions of them. It was like a plague. This particular brood emerges every thirteen years to molt, mate, and die. I had this realization that the next time I would see these cicadas, my daughter would be a teenager, and I would be in my forties. I felt connected to these creatures as we shared the most important moments of our lives together. And as quickly as this season sprung upon us, it would pass away into memory. You can only have your first child for the first time once.

    On a personal level, what was your main intent in creating this body of work?
    My main intent for creating The 13th Spring was to deal with my new reality. I knew that these moments would quickly fade. I knew that the way that I felt would only last for a short time. My child would grow up, the magic would fade a bit, and life would move forward. I just wanted to capture those feelings that I felt in the context of our reality at that time. There aren’t that many moments in my life that I am self-aware enough to see their value, but this was one of them.

    What is it special about the region you captured ?
    Most of my photographs were made in and around Jackson, TN. I don’t think there is anything particularly special about this place. If anything, I’ve felt stuck here for years. In many ways, the photographs help me come to grips with being stuck in this place. Many of the photographs are my attempts to be in awe again.

    “The joy and fear of becoming a father began to seep into my photographs without me even knowing”.

    Very few people want to live here. It is just a place people end up and can’t seem to find a way out of. I guess I’m one of those people. At least for now.

    You published a book in 2017 about The 13th Spring, can you give us some information about this accomplishment?
    I made a small artist series of books for The 13th Spring in 2017 really as a proof of concept. I intended the work to be experienced as a book. As with most things, I like to go through the entire process myself and be involved with every step. I enlisted the help of a few friends at various stages. Natalie Ivis helped my sort out a few roadblocks in the edit and Inkwells Press took care of the binding and screen printing. Also, my friend Ben Williams designed the logo on the cover. But everything else, for better or worse, was all me. Now that the artist edition is sold out, I’m working with a publisher on doing a larger trade edition. I’m excited to see how the book evolves in this new phase. Hopefully we will have more details on the new edition this year.

    Enjoy his series on his website.