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The Great American Camping Trip

Whenever I think about "travel photography," I think of images of sunsets on a tropical island, unusual yet enticing foods placed on platters over vibrant textiles, cobblestone streets flanked by ancient architecture and, of course, the compelling candid shots of the local people. The whole "idea" of travel and the photography that comes with it often conjures up foreign and exotic experiences far from home.

While travel abroad is exciting and oh-so photo-worthy—I’m swooning just thinking about it—the truth is, many of us do much, if not most, of our traveling within the borders of our own country and often even within our own state. And why shouldn’t we? We have more beauty and wonder in our own backyards than we could ever explore in a life-time. Plus, traveling closer to home can be a lot more accessible and affordable.

My husband and I have always considered ourselves as "camping people." Thoroughly enjoying the exhilaration of long road trips and roughing it, we camped regularly until our eagerly anticipated adventures started becoming a little more work than wonderful. By the time we had our second child, our camping trips dwindled as quickly as a late-night campfire. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t camp with kids. On the contrary, camping is a fantastic thing to do as a family. In fact, I can think of nothing better. From a bounty of fresh air and free, majestic beauty to the lack of power outlets and usual daily distractions, spending time amidst the great outdoors is an awesome way to travel. It’s just that when the kids are really young, the effort that goes into camping trips like this can be so exhausting, it can keep you from doing it. At least that’s what happened to us.


But fast-forward to today, and my husband, myself and our daughters—now a teen and a tween—have rekindled the flame of our beloved camping days. It’s amazing what a difference a few years can make. This kind of traveling can open up an abundance of enriching experiences and plenty of picture-perfect opportunities, two things that can capture almost any photographer’s photo-fancy.

The journey begins the minute we back out of the driveway, and with that simple act, it’s as if the whole world is instantly reframed. Traffic? Big deal. Hours of driving? No complaints. The views? Inspiring and hypnotizing (all depending on which leg of the journey you’re on). All of a sudden, everything is an adventure! And, for me, everything becomes that much more inspiring and photo-worthy. So begins certainly one of my favorite parts of the experience: capturing it all through my lens. I’ve always loved shooting from the passenger seat, the windshield creating the perfect viewfinder to explore the world at large. Shooting through the windshield or side window often yields unpredictable, mysterious reflections that add layers and can complement an expansive sky or a vast sweeping landscape. The rearview mirror or the side mirror can be incorporated to help creatively frame small, curious reflections and offers a totally unique and unexpected view of the surrounding landscape. In other words, the road trip, in and of itself, is full of opportunities for amazing images.

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