DATE: September 2000
SUBJECT: Unleashed web site: Taking Your Camera on the Road
Tel Aviv, Israel – Known for their unconventional lifestyle, Lorelle and Brent VanFossen have put their life out for everyone to see on their new web site, www.cameraontheroad.com.
The VanFossens are, to put it simply, nature photographers, writers, and travelers. Nothing too strange about that, except that they don’t have a home. Actually, let’s correct that. They do have a home, they just don’t “live” anywhere. Ask them where they come from and the answer may surprise you.
“Home is where Lorelle is,” answers Brent VanFossen, husband of the team. “Honestly, that is our answer!”
Lorelle explains, “Because we gave up a sedentary lifestyle, we live on the road. So our answer is complex. If you want to know where we were born, Brent was born in Oklahoma, and I was born in Seattle, Washington. This is also the answer to where we have lived the longest. But if you want to know where we just came from, the answer changes. And it isn’t the same answer for where we were yesterday, or two days before that, or even a couple of months before that. Living on the road means traveling and moving, so Brent likes to explain that wherever I am, let’s call it home.”
Hugging her close, Brent agrees. Both admit that while life lived on the road, traveling over 60,000 miles (96,500 km) in a couple of years time, isn’t easy, it does have its moments when you realize that all the hard work and struggle is worth it. “We’ve ice skated under a full moon in Yosemite National Park. We danced on the toe of the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska under the stars. We’ve sat in the most amazingly natural and rustic hot springs in Liard, a quiet jewel along the Alaskan Highway. We’ve explored the Grand Canyon, Everglades, Ding Darling, Smokey Mountains, Jasper National Park in Canada, and laid out under the amazing desert night skies of New Mexico and Arizona. For this, it is worth it.”
Lorelle and Brent share much of their struggles and triumphs, as well as lessons learned, on their new web site, “Taking Your Camera on the Road”. Planned originally to compliment their upcoming book of the same name, the web site has already grown into much more.
“We wanted to share all the parts of our life on the road, not just the storytelling or tips. So we’ve broken the site up into eight different zones of ‘ings’, as we call them. They represent what and how we are living, being, doing, telling, learning, going, telling, and asking. In the Living Zone, we talk about what it is like and the lessons we’ve learned from living on the road. In the Going Zone, we share tips and tricks for taking your camera on the road and planning your adventures. In the Learning Zone, we share many tips, tricks, and techniques about nature photography and the business of nature photography. This is the largest of the sections. We share our stories about life on the road in the Telling Zone and the other zones answer questions about our life on the road and what we are doing,” Lorelle says. “The most unique section is the Being Zone where we offer advice about the more esoteric aspects of life and the living of it. Here we feature articles and essays about life management, stress reduction, life choices, and the bigger life lessons we’ve learned from life on the road.”
The web site hosts more than 200 articles, covering everything from titles such as “If It’s Going to Break Down, It Will Do So on a Saturday Night in a Small Town” to “Looking for Landscapes”. Their writing is energetic and delightful, clear and yet fun to read. On the normally dull subject of photographic composition in the article called “Bull’s Eye Syndrome”, Lorelle writes:
Finding out what a person does for a living is often an invitation for free consultations. Doctors get lots of: “I have this cousin, and he has this lump in his arm pit. Could it be cancer?” Politicians are great targets: “The road outside my house has huge potholes in it. Can you get it fixed for me? By next week?” Poor lawyers, they are victims of their career, too: “My Aunt Thelma was hit by a drunk driver and has a bruise on her hip, how much do you think she can get?” Well, photographers are not immune.
Oh, the questions we get: “What kind of camera should I buy?” “My pictures are all dark. Should I buy a flash?” “What kind of film should I use?” ” All the pictures I take of my sister’s baby make his face look all funny. Should I get a new camera?” Some of these result in more in-depth questions on my part. “What are you photographing?” “What do you want to take pictures of?” “What is your goal?” Yet, the easiest question of all to answer, and not asked very often, is HOW DO I TAKE A BETTER PICTURE? I think that’s the most important question anyone could ask.
Dealing with the topic of living 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on the road, Lorelle has some wise tips for the future couple planning to take their life on the road:
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. When you think about retiring early and taking off from our busy lives to travel in a trailer or motor home together, you dream of the wide open roads and chasing adventure where it leads. The last thing you consider is 24-7. Yes, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
That is how long you are trapped in a mobile tin can with a person you are probably married to, and have been for many years. 24-7. Stuck in a hot tin can that tends to break down as much as it gets you there. 24-7. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, and all the snacks in between. 24-7. In the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the cab driving down the road, that person is THERE: 24-7.
Sound romantic? When people plan for such adventures on the road, you usually forget to plan for 24-7. You think the dancing thoughts of “finally we can spend some time together!” But 24-7 is not the same as spending time together. It is NON-STOP time spent together with little or no escape from each other.
The VanFossens, in addition to their large web site, are currently working on several books including, “Taking Your Camera on the Road”, “Home is Where Lorelle is” (stories about their travels), and “Sharing Your Talents With Others”, about learning how to present your talents and hobbies in programs and workshops around your community or farther afield. You can learn more about their life on the road, and their wisdom and tips, at www.cameraontheroad.com. Come prepared to spend a lot of time as you explore all the different topics and subjects. They have designed their web site to be easy to read, accessible to the disabled and handicapped, and easy to print out and read at your leisure.
For more information on who the VanFossens are and what are they doing as they take their camera on the road, visit their Doing Zone.