August 8, 2013

A portrait of Gavin and his family by Ken Whitmire. Made while they were camped out for Wall Portrait Conference 2012. It hangs as a sixty inch print on canvas in Gavin’s living room.

A Super Campers Guide to The Galaxy!

If you’ve read stories like how we spend months on the road in a camper with our kids or seen our road trip journal, you’ll know we love Super Camping. This is about Independence exploration and taking on the world. Not loading up and heading to a resort with a pool and a waterslide. We camp in the wild for free at the most amazing places in America.

We generally do this 3-5 months a year. Traveling, exploring and working on new pictorials and films like EXposed. We usually camp off the grid in the middle of nowhere and it’s the best kind of camping. Better places, more privacy and more adventures. Here is my definition of Super Camping.

Super Camping – An independent style of camping that includes staying outside of developed campgrounds (Boondocking), usually for no cost. Super Camping generally uses a RV, tent or other rig that is prepared to function off grid with solar or battery power, food reserves, comms, medical and gear suitable for adventure, survival and mobile repairs.

Snapshot of the the crew hiking in White Sands New Mexico, March 2012.

How We Roll:

We load up everything we can fit including our kids into our 2011 Forest River 21SS that’s been tricked out as a boondocking machine. It’s pulled with a 2001 GMC 2500 Crew Cab 4×4 running a Duramax diesel. For those interested, this little trailer and all the upgrades we’ve installed in it runs up to about $27k. No chump change, but not much considering what we can do with it and truth told you could do it much cheaper with an older rig.

We’re compact but self sustaining with solar, extra batteries, and a  generator juts in case. With this we can also run sound systems and other logistics when out speaking or doing events of the liberty trail.  Combine that with water mods, good organization a rear hauling rack and the truck itself and we’re ready for the wilderness. The tanks and lines are also winter ready and we can turn on heating pads if things get chilly.

There’s nothing like finding the best places in the world to camp for free. – Boondocking in remote areas is the ticket if you want the best places. We’ve learned that sometimes you need a bit of Gypsy boldness to do this constantly. Being an activist on the side helps with that. We stay off private property without permission of course, but on public lands rules vary so you just need to learn the ropes. We research the area to which we’re going and or sometimes we just pull off on a side road and set up camp. We rarely cave to the “lets just pay for an RV park tonight” option and nearly always find a great campsite for free.

Whether it’s a photography project our out standing the line for liberty and and enhancing patriot resources, the super camper gets it done. The rest of this article is a resource that I maintain. It contains all the best resources and tools we’ve gathered over the years. From places camped to maps, gadgets and resources we use to make it go smoothly. if you want to do some Super Camping or have an RV, you’ll want to read 0n.

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May 4, 2013

Sunset at the Celestial City. One of our best from 91 days of light hunting – Read more about it here.


Read the full journal here to see lots more stories and photos – You can also pre-order the PHOTOGRAPHICS film on Kickstarter.

The family camping – Portrait by Ken Whitmire

It’s bittersweet as I drive down the hill towards familiar grassy slopes and familiar cities on the map. We watch a Spring sunset and flowers spattering green hills. Three full months on the road we’ve been. An adventure of that won’t be forgotten. Yet a part of me feels somehow less for it coming to an end. Like my spirit of adventure is fading because I long for that slow hot shower, a bed where my toes do not hang over the edge and where my wonderful wife’s elbows do not hit me in the side every time she rolls over.

The last few days lacked the grand adventure you look for at the end of a long trip. The kids got a stomach bug and did what you do when you have that. Sometimes we had two going at once – The miles were long and we needed to get home soon for Wall Portrait Conference. We drove hard that final day. Perhaps longer than we’ve ever done. Over five hundred miles from Twin Idaho to Ephrata WA. It took us about twelve hours between breaks, gas and pauses to clean up the mess from sick kids in the back seat.

“What a lousy way to end such a grand adventure” I thought – But somewhere along the road I stepped into the sunlight and realized it was not. Sometimes we get sick, but it passes. Sometimes things go wrong, we have to make repairs, or we come in late. All of those things happened on this trip. More than once. But they’re part of the memories, part of the adventure. They’re surrounded by moments of laughs and wide eyes glistening at the wounder of creation.

The moment I pull in I’m starting a new vacation. We worked hard on this trip. We played hard. It was a gamble too, but our new film PHOTOGRAPHICS is already showing in the black and the trip is all but profitable both emotionally and fiscally. All that time on the road, but so happy to have a place to call home.

We walk in after 91 days on the road and switch on the lights. The house is still here, warm, waiting. Nearly as we left it but for a few extra cobwebs. A bed, a shower, a late night movie with my wife after the kids are finally asleep. We really are home. Next it’s time to process the film, repair the gear, make the prints and get organized.

On Sunday we’re off for a week again to learn and teach at Wall Portrait Conference. But really we’re home right now. It’s only a couple hours away and among people we know. That home feeling is back. It’s odd. Truly surreal to walk down the isle at the store and for once in so long see people you know. Get a hug from your mom when you walk thru a door, or see neighbors wave as you drive down the street. I honestly feel strange not being the stranger here. But that passes and fades into tales of the adventure and silent longing for more.

As the sun shines on our first day home, a breeze blowing, spring flowers popping out, I realize that the world is still alive and that both home and away are something grand. Appreciating your adventure is how you look at it. There’s nothing like a place to call home, but there’s also nothing like the open road, your wife riding shotgun and kids kicking the back of your seat as the road rolls by. This is living, all of it.

Until the next trip, Gavin Seim.

Coming down from the Death Road new Zion. Amazing views.

Read the full trip journal here for lots more stories and photos.

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May 22, 2012

Memory Lane. Southern CA forest, Corral Canyon, Spring 2012.

It’s that peaceful time just before sunset in the hill country. Warm breezes and insects flying in the evening air. That gentle flair of the sun peeking thru the trees before it recedes into night.

I can almost taste the peaceful feeling we had that evening, my four year old standing next to me with his little camera and a cool mountain breeze drifting over the valley. It was in a remote forest near one of our favorite camp spots of the winter 2012 trip.

I’m finding the simple scenes often have more impact to people than the grand iconic landscapes. Say Arches or the Grand Canyon. Don’t get me wrong, I love the grand landscapes of America. But sometimes the simple idealistic scenes evoke something more. Each person adding their own experiences and emotions into a scene, triggering memories, sights and sounds.

Release details: Prints available. Contact the studio. Learn more about prices. Available prints…

For Photographers. How it was made…

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February 27, 2012

A portrait of Gavin and his family by Ken Whitmire. Made while they were camped out for Wall Portrait Conference 2012. It hangs as a sixty inch print on canvas in Gavin’s living room.

By Gavin Seim: Follow updates on… Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter

There’s nothing like miles of open road and your beautiful wife riding shotgun. Like giggling kids in the back seat with camera bags and cracker crumbs. Like the warm wind that whips in the window and tosses your hair. There’s nothing like the feeling of adventure and uncertainly. Of going somewhere you’ve never been before, tasting nature on the air, and doing something that, just maybe, no one else has ever done before…

A photographer and family road tripping across the USA? No easy task, but it teaches you a lot. About versatility, family, and of course, photography. In fact, many of my most advanced techniques and studies come from the zero deadline environment of road tripping.

In 2011, we spent around 3 months on the road. In 2012, we’re spending nearly that just for our Winter tour and probably 4-5 months in total. To be clear, we’re not just heading to snowbird hideaways and hunkering down. We travel, thousands upon thousands of miles, exploring the US and all it has to offer an American Pictorialist seeking the very best views in the world.

How It Works:

The long trips start months in advance: planning the direction of travel, lining up workshops or events to help pay the hefty gas bill. We’ll be up around three thousand dollars just for fuel for our Winter tour. That part can be a real burden, and it really makes you think about what’s happened to costs and the economy in this country. But let’s not get into that just now; I’m having fun here.

Next, I work like crazy around the studio in preparation. That also involves making sure sessions are scheduled for our return or out the door before we leave. I run a low volume studio that focuses on high end wall portraits, so I can be flexible regarding when and how I organize sessions, but it still takes planning. I don’t want to lose too much business. I make sure the house is sewn up, too, and try to leave things tidy. We make sure the maintenance and latest upgrades are done on the Super Camper. Back at the studio, I tie up all the loose ends, put out a sign that says, back in three months, turn ON the print spotlights, and lock the doors.

Here’s an inside look at The Super Camper. A few upgrades have been added since this, but you’ll get the idea.

Snapshot of the the crew hiking in White Sands New Mexico, March 2012.

Time To Roll: The wife and I load up everything we can fit, including the our three kids, and off we go To The Wild. The main thing that gets us out there is the Super Camper. It’s a 2011 Forest River 21SS that’s been tricked out as a boondocking machine. Still, It cost $20,000 brand new and we’ve probably only  put another 5k into it. It’s pulled with our 2001 GMC 2500 Crew Cab 4×4 running a Duramax diesel. For those interested, this little trailer and all the upgrades we’ve installed run up to about $25k. No chump change, but not so much considering what we can do with it.

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February 23, 2012

DRAFT: We found this amazing camp up in the Coral Canyon area. A surprisingly little used OHV area in CA that is stunning on nearly every side. It had rained recently bringing out the winter green, but our days here were beautiful and warm and when we weren’t exploring the landscape we we’re drinking good coffee or lying out on a blanket  with the kids, looking up at the blue sky.

I spotted this on our first drive the night before but sat on it for a day. Going back, I let the kids play in the road (it was more of a trail and mom was watching them), while I climbed up the hull onto a mountain of boulder for a stunning view of the valley and the unique shape of the Morena Reservoir. I waited as the sun sank and the light begin to sing.

Morena Sunset. Gavin Seim, 2012.

For Photographers. How it was made…

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