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I’m leaving my house to photo-travel in a Mercedes van I constructed myself

I’m Dave Williams, a writer here at DIYP and a journey photographer, author, and educator from the UK. For a few years, similar to loads of different photographers, I labored a full-time job and shot on the aspect as a option to fund new gear. I progressed from funding gear to fund my life, with purchasers and companions forming all through my journey. That hit a little bit of a roadblock throughout the COVID pandemic and my travels floor to a halt – I out of the blue went from round 20 journeys a 12 months to zero. That’s after I determined to make my daydreams a actuality.

In March I took a hard-earned £5,000 and invested in a used Mercedes Sprinter 170 313 CDi. I spent 4 months changing it and making it precisely the way in which I would like it to be and now it’s my full-time lodging and off-grid, on-road workplace. The conversion wasn’t simple – I spent an evening soaking moist throughout torrential rain with a leaking roof, I modified my thoughts on batteries and water tanks mid-build – however now it’s able to roll.

The van is called Kofifernweh. It is a mixture of the Icelandic phrase for ‘cabin’, which is Kofi, and the German phrase for ‘wanderlust’, which is Fernweh. Kofifernweh is a cabin with a want to journey.

I’ve obtained every thing I would like and nothing that I don’t. Making the transition from house-life to vanlife has made me change my total perspective on what’s essential in life. Weight and house are a real, recurring problem in what is actually a tiny house on wheels. All the pieces that goes in should have a function or, ideally, two or three functions. Kofifernweh has a plated weight of three.5 tonnes. I’m simply beneath that restrict and after the record of necessities, every thing on-board is rigorously thought-about. Everyone knows that images gear might be notably heavy, in order that’s needed to change into a part of the equation.

I’ve slimmed down my gear so I’m now carrying solely the issues I would like with a view to get the job achieved. Composites and alloys have been chosen over their heavier counterparts, and the lenses, lights, and different trinkets I don’t want have been confined to storage.

The van itself has had all method of modifications to go well with my wants. I concentrate on chilly climate images and this winter I’ll be heading to Lapland and the chilly, darkish north of Europe so all the way in which round there’s 50mm of insulation to maintain the heat inside. This has additionally been a consideration for the title I’ve given the van. Relatively than a van, I choose to see it as a cabin. It’s considerably nordic, is completed with wooden, and options ending touches that remind me of the locations I’m so keen on and acquainted with. The 4 seasons are represented on a cabinet door beside the double mattress which, in the event you have been questioning, is tremendous comfy!

On the surface too there have been plenty of adjustments to go well with my wants. Most notable is the paint job, which is a inexperienced, hard-wearing army paint up prime and a rubberised, black bed-liner paint down low. Taking second place on the outside record might be the wheels. They’re 18-inch alloy wheels sporting Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain + tires, able to going just about wherever together with ice and snow. I’ve loads of lights positioned to assist me see in Arctic winters, the place hazard is round each curve. Reindeer and moose roam free, and the climate creates treacherous circumstances loads of the time. It’s these treacherous circumstances that always make for the very best pictures, so I must be ready for all of it.

By way of what I would like with a view to shoot and edit, I’m set. All the ability I would like is saved in 200Ah Lithium home batteries that dwell within the storage space, proper subsequent to the fridge/freezer. The DC energy put out feeds, amongst different issues, all of the USB sockets dotted all through the cabin which tends to be sufficient to maintain my gadgets charged and prepared. All the pieces routes by way of a central panel hidden inside a cupboard the place all of the wires are fused and distributed all through the cabin, however there’s additionally an 1800 watt sine wave inverter which creates AC energy, similar to in our homes, so I can run different objects together with my printer.

So, right here’s what it’s all about. For the previous few years, I’ve been on the highway rather a lot working as a journey photographer, author and educator. I’ve spent some huge cash on AirBNB’s and resorts, in addition to automobile rent, flights, and different transport. Together with these bills got here time constraints in that I solely had a finite period of time at every location and due to this fact if the sunshine, climate, or different circumstances weren’t proper for a shot I used to be planning on getting I’d be out of luck and must hand over. By transferring my private {and professional} life into my cabin on wheels I’ve been in a position to take away these bills and can have far fewer setbacks relating to these constraints. I can drive to a location. get the shot, do the writing, after which transfer on to the following location with all of the planning, consuming, sleeping, and the rest I must do already taken care of on the idea that my van is my house and my workplace.

All the pieces I’ll be doing will characteristic on my blog and social media, and you may even track my progress after I set off from the UK, aiming to reach in Lapland at Christmas time.

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