David Martinez recently returned from vacation having met some some people who have chosen to live a very simple existence. When he shared the story and the photos, I asked him to write something for the blog. And, then I asked him how I could sign up?
Every summer for the past few years, I have been returning to a really beautiful and somewhat undiscovered beach to surf + relax.
Finding a good uncrowded surf break is pretty rare these days. Over the years I have grown used to sharing the beach with the occasional wild donkey and not much else. This year when I arrived I was surprised to find my usually deserted beach had become a mecca for people living in their vans.
I was apprehensive of them at first (what were they doing at my secret spot with these crazy vehicles!?!), but as the days went by – I heard their stories and found that they were travelers living a very free, full and peaceful life. Imagine traveling without a specific destination – having very few expenses and often times no access to the internet or cell phones. Disconnecting like that is something that’s increasingly hard to imagine with all of our ways to connect these days.
After talking with them I realized that there is a whole movement of people deciding to live simply off the grid – though the internet is a huge resource for finding the best places to camp and network with other wanderers living the “van life”.
I knew I wanted to take pictures of the travelers – but I never like to take portraits without getting to know the person a bit. Waiting a week and getting to know everyone made it feel really effortless when I did start to take pictures – I didn’t feel like I was intruding on their lives or just an outsider looking in. I had intentionally taken one camera and my trusty 50mm lens to simplify my process and keep things as unobtrusive as possible (a far cry from the productions I normally work on with motorhomes, luxe client areas and lens lineups).
I didn’t really set out with a goal or specific thing in mind when I arrived – but decided to let the images come to me organically. One of my favorite images is the one of Ashley and her dog. She seems so strong and self assured in that photo – free and living a very special and memorable time in her life.
Getting to know these people who had come from as far away as Israel, Australia and Switzerland was a wonderful surprise and inspiration for me. Sometimes when you stop looking the image you want to make just appears. I am always grateful and amazed at the doors being a photographer opens for me.