Fred Smith was told as a child that he resembled his father.
“Everywhere I would go as a kid, people would just see me and automatically know who I was because I looked like my dad,” the 35-year-old, a former sergeant in the U.S. Marines, tells PEOPLE of his father, Fred Smith, Sr.
Even today, the two have a striking similarity, and Fred came up with the idea for a photograph that would demonstrate not only how much he and his father resemble one other, but also how much his son, Dartynien, looks like them.
Smith retrieved one of his favorite photographs of himself and his father, taken three decades earlier while he stood on the hood of a black Oldsmobile outside of his late grandmother’s house in California when he was three years old and his father was 33.
Smith then reproduced the photograph, complete with a button-up shirt similar to the one worn by his father in the photograph 30 years previously. He propped Dartynien, who was three years old at the time, on the bonnet of a car, positioned his camera on a tripod, and clicked away.
Smith took the photo, compared it to the original, and then shared the outcome on Facebook. The side-by-side photos have lately gone viral, with over 69,000 likes as of late July.
Smith, who runs his own photography studio in Calgary, Kallos Studios, says he’s shocked by the positive feedback the photographs have received online (he says he’s gotten a lot of complimentary comments). Most importantly, he is grateful for being able to capture the right moment at the right time.
“Just to recreate it is a blessing — just the coincidence and the similarities in look and age and everything,” he says. “I just had to do it.”
Smith considers fatherhood to be one of life’s most important jobs, which inspired him to create and draw a children’s book, My Daddy’s Legs, in 2019.
Smith Sr. has always been a powerful figure in his son’s life, according to Smith. His father instilled in him the importance of ambition and setting lofty goals for himself.
Smith, on the other hand, claims that his father is unaware that he is internet famous.
“I haven’t told him that it went viral yet because it’s just been a crazy week,” Smith says. “So I don’t even think he knows what viral means, but I’ll call him after this and let them know that the world knows us.”
Dartynien, on the other hand, isn’t really enthusiastic about becoming a viral sensation.
“I told my son and he didn’t care,” Smith says. “He just turned 5 last week, so like, ‘Hey, man, a lot of people like our picture, a lot of people said happy birthday to you.’ He’s just like, ‘Okay.’ “