One of a photographer's least talked about yet most important tools is the horse he rides in on. Okay, so I doubt many photographers are still riding horses, but the concept is the same: a trusty companion that will take you from point A to point B safely and in many cases with style. After all, it's not like you're going to hoof it into the middle of the Baja Desert, camera equipment in hand.
While not all photographers are in the market for an off-road capable ride, let's take a second to look at some of the key features that adventure photographers like Seth Jacobsen of Adventure Driven, who regularly frequents some of the worlds most rugged terrain, are after when they’re building their ultimate photography vehicle.
I’ve been a Jeep guy for years, and as a photographer, I can tell you that it takes a good deal of creativity to make room for all of the equipment you may need to fit inside the small cab. Traveling sometimes hundreds of miles into the most remote parts of the country, you want to pack everything you think you may need. Light stands, hard cases, food provisions, and the other necessary photographic equipment take up enough room on their own; let's not forget about the recovery equipment that’s often needed during the event that you run out of driving talent. Interior space within your vehicle can be eaten up quickly, so choosing a truck or SUV that has the room for you and all of your gear is a must.
Cigarette-lighter outlets are only going to charge so much, so additional power sources are a must. Many vehicles like the Ford Raptor come with power inverters mounted under the seats from the factory. This is great for when you need to charge batteries, plug in your laptop, or power lights. In other situations, taking advantage of natural resources like solar power can help you charge the devices that may need it, without the hassle of draining your car battery. Solar panel chargers are becoming more popular as the technology is rapidly advancing and may save you from being caught at a location such as the Grand Canyon without power.
Whether you plan on sleeping in, on, or under your ride, your vehicle is going to become your luxury suite and office as the sun begins to set. Obviously, roughing it in a tent on the ground has its benefits, but for many, rooftop tents provide the security from creepy-crawly critters of the night that’s needed when you want to lay down and review images under the peace of the stars.
Adventure Driven specializes in sharing the overland, off-road, and outdoor lifestyle with a focus on high-quality landscape and adventure photography that inspires others to find their own adventures.
All of your expensive camera equipment isn’t going to do much good if it’s buried along with your vehicle in the mud or sand. Trails aren’t always maintained, and the reality is that you’ll eventually wind up stuck somewhere. Don’t let this be the end of your journey. Prepare by purchasing the equipment you’ll need to be yanked out of the mud or sand as well as basic tools you’ll need to make repairs along the trail.
As photographers, we're used to talking about lighting equipment. Chances are you don't talk nearly as often about lighting your path on the way to where you're shooting (astrophotographers) until it's too late. There are many incredibly powerful LED lighting options on the market today that blow away any lights you could mount on your vehicle 10 years ago and draw only a fraction of the power that their halogen counterparts did; this means more juice for other electronics.
Style is arguably the most subjective quality of a photographer's overland vehicle. Whether it’s a decked-out Baja-inspired pre-runner or a luxury SUV converted into the over-lander's dream, you ultimately get to make the final decision on the style of your ride.
What gets you to your most remote photo destinations? I'd love to see your adventure vehicles in the comments below.
Images provided with permission from Seth Jacobsen, Adventure Driven.