Travel portraits of RV nomads

posted in: Portraits, Projects

This month out in the Anza Borrego desert east of San Diego, I steered myself into the middle of an impromptu gathering of full-time RV travelers. These were not natives of the region, but in fact they were quite the opposite. They were all vagabonds like myself. I had never met them before arriving, but we ended up settling in and making this patch of sand home for the better part of two weeks.

David Couillard and his young, nomadic family stand outside their Airstream trailer while camping in the Anza Borrego Desert of California. (Seth K Hughes)  Hector Lopez stands outside his Class A motorhome while camping in the Anza Borrego desert of California. (Seth K Hughes)  A woman and her dog sit near the doorstep of thier Airstream trailer while camping in the desert of Anza Borrego, California. (Seth K Hughes)

A pair of dogs, Buhhda and Ernie, sit outside their motorhome while camping in the Anza Borrego State Park, California. (Seth K Hughes)  "Buddha" sits outside and guards his motorhome while desert camping in Anza Borrego, California. (Seth K Hughes)  Full-time RV travelers stand next to their 1986 Wanderlodge Class A coach. (Seth K Hughes)

Full-time Airstreamers Mike and Kelly settle into their boondocking campsite in the Anza Borrego desert of California. (Seth K Hughes)  Kelly Puccio and her dog Sam are full-time residents of their Airstream travel trailer. (Seth K Hughes)  A community of Airstream RVers camp together off-the-grid in the Anza Borrego Desert of California. (©2015 Seth K. Hughes)

Full-time RV (recreational vehicle) dwellers meet up for a soup pot luck and an outdoor movie while camping off the grid in Anza Borrego State Park, California. (Seth K Hughes)  Cherie Ve Ard dances with fire in the Anza Borrego desert of California. (Seth K Hughes)  People enjoying the full-time RV life while camping off the grid in Anza Borrego State Park, California. (Seth K Hughes)


An RV Subculture

There were no hookups or conveniences other than what we brought with us. It’s called dry camping and it’s free, but everyone had to be entirely self-sufficient and supply all their own water, electricity, utilities, etc. The only amenities available were a desert view, a campfire and good company as we gathered around it each night.

These people were not the typical retired RVers, or vacationers. Most all of them have a job of some kind and are part of a new subculture that have figured out how to leverage technology and live on the road working remotely. They live in a variety of mobile homes including Airstreams, Class A RVs, converted buses and just regular vans. Links to their respective blogs are below in the footnotes.

This was my first time being involved with such an experience and I had a fantastic time. I made several new, lasting friendships and I found endless photo opportunities. So I was inspired to create this series of travel portraits of RV nomads – highlighting the people within the place. The online gallery can be seen here.


The Magic of People and Place

Travel is synonymous with fascinating places. Photographers in particular tend to gravitate towards incredible places with spectacular scenery—and those landscape photos usually turn out pretty nice. A unique view of a place or a portrait can easily stand on its own, but when a photograph or photo essay effectively combines both elements, that’s when it really shines. Usually, the best way to accomplish this is to slow down, observe and interact. It seems like an obvious statement, but all too often the traveler’s default is a rushed itinerary and snapshots taken on the fly. If you find a remarkable setting, just hang out for a little while. Eventually an interesting person or unique situation will present itself.

How people relate to their environment is a fascinating subject. From the food they eat, to the transportation they use to the way their village sits on a hillside. When telling a story, capturing these images up close and far away will always make interesting photographs. You can see more examples in my Travel Portfolio. Or visit the work of some of the masters such as Edward Curtis, Dorothea Lange and Pieter Hugo.


RV nomad blogs from this gathering include:

2 Responses

  1. erin
    | Reply

    These are great!!!

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