I never aspired to be a photographer. I didn't have some burning desire to create art… what I did have was a fear of sitting at a desk for the rest of my life. So to prolong that ever-approaching day, I schemed a “last hurrah” road trip.
I didn't have a camera, but luckily my road trip partner did. When we took off I had $2000, a 2001 Toyota Corolla and some decent camping gear. I remember thinking, “I probably don't have enough money to make it all the way down to Panama, but, lets see how far we get.”
We often found ourselves sleeping in situations like this:
But were always out looking for spots like this:
Neither of us had ever been to these places... we didn't have an idea of what we would find. Social media wasn't a good resource back then, so we relied on google searches, and asking locals if they knew of any cool spots.
As the trip went on, I started to photograph more and more. It started to become natural. I remember finishing up each day excited to review the photos in the car or tent. I started posting the highlights of our trip to Instagram, and was blown away by the positive feedback.
We ended up making it down to Panama, after 5 months, and 25,000 miles on the road. I sold the car down there, after running out of money. I started that trip with 1000 followers on instagram, and ended with 13,000. I found some temporary work as an alarm system technician, worked hard, all the while posting photos from my road trip to IG. About 6 months later, I bought my first real camera, and hit the road again, this time north to Alaska.
On my way north this time, I reached out to some of my favorite photographers to see if they would be up for jumping in on the adventure. I think this was the best move I ever made as an aspiring photographer - reaching out to others. This trip I shadowed @taylormichaelburk and met @jess.wandering. The two of which, have turned into some of the most influential people in my life.
At a certain point, companies saw my photos via social media and became interested in working together. For me, this happened after I had well over 100,000 followers... most people monetize their social media with less followers than that. Eventually, I was able to land some great jobs, with companies that fit my lifestyle, and road tripping became my full time career.
I never once thought that taking a road trip down to Panama, would turn into anything more than a short lived adventure. I thought to myself, "savor it, this will all be over soon." I still find myself in that mentality - that this job as an Adventure Photographer must be a dream - surely I will wake up sitting at my dreaded desk job. But it hasn't happened yet, so I'm gonna ride this wave as long as it takes me.