Dispatch From The Road Part I: Planning, Packing, Preparing And The Importance Of Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Dispatch From The Road Part I: Planning, Packing, Preparing And The Importance Of Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

New Orleans, Louisiana. If you’ve been following along, you may remember me mentioning at some point that starting around the beginning of July, my girlfriend Holly, our dog Olive, and I, will be giving up our apartment, putting almost everything we own into storage, and hitting the open road for at least two to six months. The plan is to travel from Los Angeles to Miami to New York and back again, stopping along the way to visit friends and family, take some amazing photos, make some new friends along the way, and of course, work. 

Once that basic plan was laid out, however, I found that one of the most daunting decisions wasn’t what route we’re going to take, or what clothes we’re going to bring, or what towns we’re going see and what towns we’re going to breeze through. Instead, as photographers, the issue has been, from the very beginning, what gear we’re going to take. Well, as Holly primarily shoots with a Canon 5D and the Canon 50 f/1.4, there really was no question about what she was going to take. For me the decision about what to bring was a bit more troublesome. 

Since I primarily shoot with a Canon 5D Mark III and the 50L and 35L, obviously they were all coming with me. But I also sometimes shoot with a Canon 1V film camera, so I decided that should be coming with me as well. And, in addition to that, for those times when I want to have a camera with me, but really didn’t feel like a DSLR and/or an iPhone, I purchased a Canon S110 (amazing little camera, by the way). Also, I felt needed to bring along my old Canon Power Shot point and shoot film camera and my Fuji Instax for those moments when a point and shoot film camera and an instant film camera seem like a good idea…

Oh, let’s not forget about hard drives, memory cards, battery chargers, card readers, cables, power cords, a film scanner, extra film, a Phase One IQ250 Camera System… 

Wait, what? 

With a few days to spare before we left, I was contacted by the nice folks at Phase One and Capture Integration who offered us their new IQ250 camera system to take with us for the few first few weeks of our trip. Despite the fact that there was not an inch of available space left in my car, I said yes - I mean, how does one say no to that offer? That’s right. You don’t. So, with what I’m sure was a devilish gleam in my eye, I took delivery of the Phase One system a few days later while simultaneously deciding which clothes, shoes, and personal effects I needed to leave at home in order to make room for it. 

With nearly everything we own in storage, all our gear all set, and my dog as confused as ever, we loaded up the car one last time, said goodbye to San Diego, and hit the road. It had been quite a few years since I’d taken a long road trip and I was happy to be back to a place that I truly loved - behind the wheel. To me, there is nothing like the open road and the adventure that it brings - suddenly everything became a possiblity. 

As Holly, Olive, and I pulled out of San Diego and I began to put together this article in my head, I struggled with the direction that I wanted to take this. I mean road stories, travelogues, travel blogs, and traveling photo essays have all been done to death through the years. I wanted to bring something different to the table, something personal yet inspiring, something that someone could be read tomorrow or ten years from now and still be meaningful. 

As we crossed from Arizona to New Mexico, I decided that I should just continue with what has been working for me. I’ve been lucky or fortunate or whatever that both Fstoppers and our readers (that’s you) have given me this incredible platform through which I have been able to relate my experiences to such a warm, positive response. And I see no reason at all to stop doing just that. What I hope to post here over the next few months is a series of articles that take you all on the journey with us. Granted, we’re not landing on the moon or anything, but giving up just about everything and being essentially home-baseless for a while is a pretty big deal for me. Add to that the difficultly of trying to book jobs and pay bills and I think we’ve got something that I’m hopeful you’ll be interested in following. 

Getting out of our comfort zone…

When we first decided to take the two month long open-ended trip, it wasn't really based on any sort of displeasure with our current situation - except maybe that our rent was too damn high. I really love San Diego because it's warm and beachy and after living there for close to ten years, I knew it and it’s people like the back of my hand. But, as much as I loved it, I knew that it was time for a change of scenery. The day job was getting stale, the rent was getting expensive, and the commute to Los Angeles and/or Orange County to shoot seemed to be getting longer with each passing week.

When it was time to renew our lease, Holly and I decided it was time for a change of scenery. We knew we didn’t want to stay where we were, and we knew we didn’t exactly want to run up to live in LA - at least not yet. So when the idea of the road trip came up, we jumped on it. What better way to change things up than packing up and heading somewhere new, exploring what is out there and available to us. 

Our first full week on the road took us from Southern California through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and now Louisiana. Along the way we stopped in with friends and family, got stuck in a mudslide, danced in a rainstorm, and ran through open fields of waist high grass. We've been documenting our trip on Instagram and to a lesser extent, Facebook. So, if you've got a moment or two, head on over to either one of our pages and click the follow button to see where this adventure takes us next. 

Thanks for reading. More to come. 

John Schell | Holly Parker




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John Schell is a Lifestyle photographer and writer currently based in Miami, Florida

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First ;)

lol.. you sure are, Kyle.

Have a great trip! your dog is adorable :)

I've been following along on Instagram. Looking forward to the rest of the trip.

Looking forward to each post throughout the journey!

I follow you on IG, love your work! :)

Okay, you're past the deserts. I want to go the other way, from the Southeast to the West. I've seen some stunning photos from slot canyons. I don't know if y'all had the opportunity or not.
I'm glad to see film going along the ride. I'd love to own a 1V, but my wife doesn't want anymore film cameras in the house with an A-1 and F-1N; but if I convincer her that the lenses for the 5D III work on the 1V, then maybe.
I'd love to be doing what y'all are doing. I'm looking forward to the travelogue.

Looking forward to reading about your adventures!

Definitely going to follow along! I think you'll love miami, we are crazy down here!

Look forward to reading about your travels. :)