The Traveler’s Daughter

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Smiling grandmothers, wooden bridges, rippling sand, curious children, stave churches & the world.


The connection between a father and daughter transcends place and time, a universal bond we see in every corner of the world. Taken over the span of five years and across six continents, I’ve quietly watched as my husband, a travel photographer, and our small daughter frequent the planet with the same ease they explore our backyard at home.

By seeing this pair exist out in the world together, we get a unique sense of place—show a baby opens doors to conversations we may never have had, or allows us to see things through a childlike lens. We come to learn that in Bali, men are equally as maternal as women, or in the Himba communities of northern Namibia, parenting encompasses generations and households. That relic Norwegian stave churches, Namib sand dunes and Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge are all wonderfully wild playgrounds. That Papa is much more important than a few Faroese sheep, and the loving gaze of a Myanmar grandmother is enough to remind us of our families we miss.

We may be drawn to the traveler’s photography as the initial inspiration, but it is his daughter who is the true conduit of love.

These photos were captured in Taiwan, Namibia, the Faroe Islands, Indonesia, Myanmar and Norway, and remind us that love enhances even the most beautiful of destinations.

Compass Rose

Samantha Runkel is the founder of Heyterra, a sustainable travel platform for families (@heyterratravel), as well as a mother, musician and writer. This photo essay was a finalist for Nowhere’s 2021 Emerging Travel Photographers’ Prize. All photos © Samantha Runkel.

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