When thinking about travel photography, many conjure up images of sunsets on a tropical island, cobblestone streets flanked by ancient architecture, and other foreign and exotic experiences far from home.
While travel abroad is exciting, the truth is, many of us do most of our traveling within the U.S. and Canada. And why shouldn’t we? We have more beauty and wonder in our own backyards than we could ever explore in a life-time. Plus, traveling closer to home can be a lot more accessible and affordable and simpler, especially when traveling in an RV.
The journey begins the minute we drive our motorhome out of the driveway, and with that simple act, it’s as if the whole world is instantly reframed. The views? Inspiring and hypnotizing (depending on the leg of the journey we’re on). All of a sudden, everything is an adventure! And, for me, everything becomes more inspiring and photo-worthy.
So begins one of my favorite parts of the experience: capturing it through my lens.
The road trip, in and of itself, is full of opportunities for amazing images.
A long drive can be stressful in itself, so there’s no reason to rush or fret about time restraints. Making good time is every traveler’s objective, but we now travel strictly on the 2-2-2 Rule, which translates to: Drive 200 miles, by 2 p.m., and stay for 2 nights or longer.
When we arrive at our destination, it’s time to set up camp.
Getting familiar with the sights and sounds of the RV park and the lay of the land, I keep my camera in tow because this first stroll often coincides with the glow of late-afternoon light. If there’s any time when you want your camera when enjoying the great outdoors, it’s exactly that time of day.
There’s no telling what may be discovered down the dirt road and around the next bend. A meadow, a mountain, a lake, or river at very first glance often can be so impressive, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t have your camera with you. With camping (much like with many other experiences), by the time you run back to get your camera, the moment is gone. I speak from experience.
It’s amazing how a simple change of scenery can bring so much inspiration on so many levels. No wonder we’re compelled to pack up and take it on the open road to anywhere the wind might take us, cameras in hand.
Once you’ve settled at your destination, there are some creative ways you can record your experience.
Nature’s light is at its best in the early mornings and late afternoons. Use those times to your photographic advantage by planning to spend some time either wandering with your camera or focusing on what you’re most interested in shooting (a particular landscape, for example).
There’s delight in the details. When taking in vast vistas, we sometimes miss the small stuff. Don’t miss out on the amazing intricacies Mother Nature has created—seed pods, leaves, seashells, acorns, etc. Beauty can be found in the tiniest of natural elements.
Seek out symbols. Depending on where you’re RVing, the elements may vary. Seek out and shoot the kinds of iconic symbols that will visually translate not only the fact that you’re RVing, but where you’re RVing. Whether it’s a giant sequoia or a Joshua tree, be sure to capture them in varying light. These kinds of shots help give your travel photography visual interest and context.
Embrace the evolution. When you’re camping, weather can change on a dime. Blue skies can become ominous with heavy clouds as quickly as you can release your shutter, and the ever-changing environment can offer a vast range of photo ops.
You may be looking at the same mountain skyline for days, but depending on the time of day and the weather of the moment, the view will constantly evolve (this is nowhere more true than the Grand Canyon). No two shots will ever be the same. Use this as inspiration as you shoot your surrounding landscape.
In my view you cannot claim to have seen something until you have photographed it.