February 13, 2019
All photos by Simon Markhof.
After returning from my year in Australia and getting back into a job that happens in the enclosures of an office most days, I felt a strong urge to break that daily routine as often as possible. With photography being my motivation I used almost every weekend to explore and photograph the area around my home. But somehow this wasn’t enough for me. It was difficult because I always needed a place to stay when I went further away from my hometown. That is what made so-called, micro adventures“ expensive as well. So I needed a different solution to be as independent as possible.
Somehow that, van-life-thing“ really got me when I lived DOWN UNDER and I wanted to restore that feeling of freedom, even if it is just for every other weekend. So I started looking for some kind of camper van that provided the freedom to get outside in a cheap and easy way. In late 2017 I caught the opportunity to buy a used van with a built-in bed for a small amount of money from a friend of mine.
It is not at all a fancy high-class campervan. It has scratches, is loud, rusty and 21 years old. But the point is, it enables me to get out of that routine whenever I feel the office space becoming too small. After a few short overnight stays in the nearby area me, my girl and some friends (NATURESCAPES)decided that it is time for a bigger road trip! We did not have to argue to find a destination that everybody wanted to go - Tuscany - the perfect place for having some good old fashioned summer days and of course for photography.
The best part of this plan was that there was no fixed plan. We did not go on a hunt for the perfect Instagram spots that have been shot a thousand times. Instead, we just wanted to go with the flow an discover this part of Italy on our very own way.
So we started driving in the middle of the night and made it all the way down to Tuscany with just one stop in between. The first destination we arrived at was the beautiful town of Barberino which is Tuscany at its finest. Tiny little streets and rolling hills. We spent the whole night shooting and discovering awesome photo spots.
During our stay, we, of course, visited the more known destinations like Pisa, Florence, and San Gimignano. The famous spots have been disappointing most of the time. Not because they haven’t been beautiful but because of masses of tourist sharing the space with you. You have seen them before and you have a different expectation that these locations can hardly live up to. Locations like that have definitely not been the best for photography.
The places that turned out to be the most rewarding spots have been the places that haven’t been all over the social networks.
For example, we had one overnight stay just a few kilometers away from Volterra. When I woke up in the morning the valley in front of me was foggy and when the sun came out this sight really blew my mind. I have never expected to see such beautiful scenery from a dirt road parking lot.
I have learned that hunting for the one photo you have seen before is a disappointing game. And life is full of disappointments. Most of the times you will not find the conditions you wish for. A road trip like this should create perfect memories instead of frustrating moments. But I have also learned that discovering a country with an open mind and your camera in your hand is the best thing you can do. Instead of planning too much you should rather soak up the countries vibes and „go with the flow“. Don’t go hunting down the one shot we have seen before you should try to get your very own picture. Keep your eyes open for the one shot that makes times like that so special. Most of the times it will be rewarded one or the other way.
This post was written by Team Shooter Simon Markhof. You can see more of Simon's work here:
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