In part one of our interview with Adventure Photographer Trevor Clark, we got to know a little bit about how he lives a location independent lifestyle on the road.
This second part will cover some of the tools, gadgets and equipment that make this life on the road possible.
From the obvious tools a photographer needs, to what tools make his lifestyle possible, Trevor tells us how he is able to live this life as a digital nomad. He also goes over some of the advantages and challenges of living this kind of mobile lifestyle.
What tools do you need to get your job done? And which are not really necessary, but make global work easier?
Well, we’ll start with the most obvious which would be camera gear and computer equipment. I use Canon equipment and shoot with the Mark III for fast action and the 5D Mark II for everything else. I do have a full size Mac Pro with a 20” Cinema Display in the van along with a Macbook Pro for taking my work out of the van (coffee shops, planes, traveling, etc.).
I would say that everything I have with me from drysuits to a wireless internet card are absolutely required. I don’t have space for anything that is unnecessary, so I keep it simple and only have what I will use.
That said, the most crucial technological tool for me is my iPhone. My industry is extremely competitive and always on a deadline, so being alerted of an email with a time sensitive issue while in the middle of nowhere or just while driving from A to B makes all the difference in the world. And, the GPS, internet and organizational applications seem like they were made for someone in my position. I truly run my whole life and business through it.
As far as programs, Skype is definitely becoming a very useful tool, in general, and even on my iPhone.
Does your work have to be turned in somewhere immediately or from on site locations? What kind of toys/technology do you need to be able to do your job from a location other than your home office/van?
That all depends on the situation. Like I mentioned earlier, there is always a deadline in my world, but sometimes it is after a trip is finished, sometimes it is the same day, and sometimes it is the same hour an image is shot. It really all depends.
The main thing I need for any deadline is a fast and reliable Internet source. Working away from my van, I just make sure I have a plan and if all else fails, I do the old-fashioned journalistic thing and find Internet, no matter what.
One time I even ended up in a couple’s bedroom (absolute strangers) at midnight, fixing their router so that I could use their internet to upload a set of images that needed to be ready for Italian distribution within the hour.
Technology will always fail when you need it most, so keeping the determination and willingness to think outside the box as an option is key for me.
With that in mind, I am also looking around at some satellite Internet options for the van.
When in another location, these tools allow you to work from anywhere, or do you normally have the office/van set up in each place?
I can do my work from anywhere, provided I have my laptop, camera gear and some hard drives with me, but having the van around makes it a lot easier. More room, more computing power, more editing efficiency. Right now, for example, I am basing myself on my brother’s sailboat in Hawaii and working from the laptop. He has quick Internet service so all is well.
How long are you usually away from home? What are some challenges you face when living in other places for long periods of time?
I am in the unique position of always being away from home, and always at home. My biggest challenge is when I move from one region or activity to another. Spending a few months at a time in one area, I grow accustomed to a routine, and even become a part of a community, and I love that.
The trouble is that I am also constantly moving on (because I have to) and starting over. This is all part of the experience for me, and over time I have built a great network of friends around the country that I re-visit, but the transitional periods can be a little tough.
Emotionally, it is just a change that I am used to, but logistically, I have to figure out new ways to survive in new places (where to park the van at night, finding athletes to work with, places to go and not to go, shooting locations, accessibility issues, etc…) until I become a part of the new community.
What are some of the positive things about having this type of job or lifestyle? The good things about what you do?
That is a tough one. For me, there are too many good things about my work to really quantify. Most might think it is the lifestyle, but that is a direct result of my approach on my work.
I think it is the freedom to explore my own curiosities and also think of ways to make that work from a business perspective. I love taking some time to map out some goals and objectives for myself and my business, and then go do it. No questions asked and no huge life changes. Just start driving. There is power and freedom in letting go of what convention has taught us.
That and the fact that kayaking, snowboarding, backpacking, kiteboarding, etc… are all a part of my job description.
Is any of your time in different places spent on being a tourist, or is it usually all work? Do you have much time off to have vacations or personal time or do you even notice such a thing?
I am really never a tourist in the normal sense. Pretty much everywhere I go has a reason and a mission involved, so I don’t spend much time sightseeing or having lazy mornings. The standard idea of a vacation is not really in my plans either, but I am in the fortunate position (I think) to have no weekdays or weekends.
I work many more hours than your typical work-week, but it is by choice and personal drive. And because of this, if it is a beautiful day outside and I have had enough, I can go kayaking, snowboarding, sailing or whatever. I just make sure that whatever goals I had for the day get finished and any obligations I may have are fulfilled.
And shooting outside, though it is physically and mentally taxing, is too rewarding for me to think of as a normal day of going to work. That is the best part of my job.
Favorite place to visit so far? Any place you still want to go?
Another tough one. I love too many mountain towns to describe, and I keep finding more, so I’ll stay away from the favorites for now. And highest on my list of places to go would be Antarctica, Mongolia, Nepal and probably, the Moon. Yeah, it would be cool to go to the Moon.
Any advice to anyone thinking of doing more traveling work or lifestyle?
I would just say that whatever it is, if you are truly passionate about it, you WILL find a way. Go with your heart and forget about everything else. There will always be reasons not to do something; I believe it is the one reason you should that counts.
Go check out this site and grab the book. If you can’t quite afford to live in Trevor’s style, but want a similar lifestyle, Vanabode will teach you how to live in a van of your own.