Before we begin this journey, one that will take us around the country, we want you to have a better understanding of who we are and why we decided to have this “Jack Kerouac” moment. I suppose the most obvious answer is: we’re young, broke, and starry-eyed. What other reason would a pair of 29-year-olds leave the big bad city of New York and purchase a 1972 Airstream? My husband Corey and I have larger plans, ones that couldn’t be contained by the walls of our studio apartment in the East Village. So, we sold everything we owned and moved into my childhood bedroom in Florida. My parents welcomed us with open arms and we’re pretty positive they’d prefer us to live in my background, among the faded paint of my princess castle and the fence my dad built with his own hands. And though we found that offer tempting, we felt a calling for the road that couldn’t be silenced.
My name is Paige and I’ll be doing the majority of the writing for this 12-part series. I can say it’s because of my degree in photojournalism, but the truth points toward my overbearing micro-managing trait. Most of this will be written from my perspective, but I think it’s one to which many people can relate. Our story began in 2011, when Corey and I were recent graduates of Flagler College, in St. Augustine, FL. We began planning a move to a location that embodied everything St. Augustine was not: New York City. Corey worked long shifts in the kitchen of a restaurant run by ungrateful management and soon began teaching Advanced Editing (for film) at a school whose administration undervalued his knowledge. He did what he could to keep us afloat as I went back to school and obtained my Master’s Degree in Digital Photography, from The School of Visual Arts. My first job out of school was for… you guessed it! B&H Photo.
I spent five years traveling for B&H, working trade shows, retreats, workshops, and events for visuals artists. It was a dream job—and it still is. I’m not afraid to promote the incredibly hard and dedicated marketing teams at B&H because those are the people who believed in me, gave me a chance, and allowed my love for travel to grow and become all encompassing. It was through this position at B&H that I met an incredibly diverse community of wandering photographers, each looking to bring meaning to their work while living a more impactful life. How could I even begin to follow that path when $2,200 a month went toward the rent of an apartment I rarely frequented? We had to dedicate ourselves to this idea of nurturing our adventurous and creative souls, all while finding a way to give back to our community.
It’s a funny thing, when you start looking back on the steps you’ve taken in life to get you to the point where you’re currently standing. They may have seemed random, chaotic, or created through desperation, but they all lead to that chair you’re sitting in right now. So, I sat in the chair, at my B&H cubicle, and looked back on the steps we took and the moments that led to our decision to leave New York. Besides the unbearable cold (this Florida girl couldn’t handle it any more) and the price of living in New York not getting any kinder to recent college grads, we wanted to try something most companies in our industry were not currently doing. We wanted to start the conversation.
Events for Beginners?
I spent half a decade traveling to events and taking note of everything I witnessed. Who was the event for? How was it funded? What was the level of education? How qualified were the teachers? Who were the minds behind the event? How was it impacting the community? If there was one commonality between every event I attended, it was the event’s intention to focus on creatives with established businesses. Even if those businesses were small and family owned, all the trade shows, workshops, and retreats were designed to benefit a business owner, and at a premium cost. Thousands of dollars are needed to attend these workshops, each requiring ticket purchases, lodging costs, and rental cars. Not to mention the time off work and away from family. But what about the young people just coming into the industry or the people looking to change their lives and follow a creative passion? Why was the price unobtainable to so many and where were the in-person educational events for beginners?
YouTube seems to be the only source of obtainable knowledge, but watching a video is not how I learn. I discovered that in middle school when documentary days meant the lights went out in the classroom and we could pass notes and nap. The sad truth: 21st-century humans have an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish. It became our job to create a community and educational resource for beginners, no matter who that person was. It had to be affordable, it had to be accessible, and it had to be honest.
This is how Road’s End Workshop came to be. We saw an opportunity and we took the leap. It required selling old cameras, only eating ramen and working harder than we ever knew was possible. In July of 2018, we left New York and began the search for a vintage Airstream. Serendipity played her part when we found Brooke on our local Craigslist page. She was selling her 1972 Airstream Ambassador and wanted it to go to a good home. She and her father had already begun the renovation process by gutting the old and outdated interiors, but it was time the project as handed off to someone new. I know Brooke had a lot of inquiries, but luck was finally on our side because Brooke is a young photographer with a penchant for travel. She appreciated our vision and we all felt like this was the way it was meant to be. I won’t bore you with the traumatic reality that is our renovation process. Let’s just say that our estimated time frame was doubled, and our projected costs were tripled.
Clementine is Completely Solar
As of April 2019, we hit the road. I traded in my 2006 Kia for a Ford F250 and the Airstream is approximately 12 more square feet of living space than our New York apartment. We’re bringing affordable photo education directly to the community we love so much and keeping ticket prices low by offering the workshop out of our Airstream. We host full-day workshops with three full courses, covering topics such as understanding your gear, mastering Lightroom, and client management. Each workshop ends with a live shoot, so our students can use hands-on techniques to practice what they’ve been taught, and they all receive demo documents and encouragement to shoot legally and confidently. We live and preach a Leave No Trace lifestyle and encourage others to do the same when traveling and shooting outdoors. Our Airstream is completely solar and aptly named Clementine.
The next 11 entries to this travel log will document our journey around the country. We’ll be discussing our route, workshop stops, photography/video tips and tricks, boon-docking advice and anything else we think could be relevant and helpful for others looking to live this lifestyle. Feel free to check out our website and learn a little more about our workshop—we might be coming to you next!
And be sure to check back every month for a new episode of the Road’s End Workshop, with Paige and Corey!
Also poke around on B&H Explora for more of Adventure Week—and don't forget to follow B&H on Twitter @BHPhotoVideo for up-to-the-minute #adventureweek news.
You guys rock! What a great idea. This sounds like a fun adventure for you both and a great way to help creatives at the same time. Looking forward to following your adventures.
I'm looking forward to this series.
I love your approach to the open road lifestyle.
Last summer I drove from Florida (St Petersburg) to The Central Coast of California to visit family in the San Luis Obispo area. My travel and Photo companion was Avery, my Golden Retriever.
I was all set to drive out again this summer after the 4th of July but then Avery's hips gave out and on the 18th of July he passed away in my lap.
My wife is already in CA and I will fly out next week with Avery's ashes to spread along the mountains we hiked and Photographed.
I am VERY interested in your journey and would like to meet up at one of your workshops.
All the best in your life adventures!