Life on Wheels: The New American Nomads
This project looks at those Americans who have willfully traded traditional lifestyles of home and property for a nomadic existence of full-time life on the road in recreational vehicles. For much of any given year, I can be found traveling cross-county in my motorhome photographing the landscape. Over time, I have become aware of a certain group of fellow travelers who seem somehow different from the typical vacationer. Known as “full-timers”, they are most often retired, but some do still work from their RV’s – using the advantage of mobility to increase flexibility and improve prospects.
Full-timers are often found in out-of-the-way Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, stay in the same spot for extended periods and are acquainted with many other campers in a particular area. Living largely off the grid, they have embraced modern technologies when needed, such as Scype and WiFi to stay connected to loved ones. They use advanced solar technologies and energy storage systems to power their rigs. Using GPS devices to coordinate meeting places, they tend to gather in unexpected and remote areas of the landscape all across the country.
I began approaching them, asking into their doings, and found their fierce independence and positivity toward life a compelling argument to the porch and rocking chair. Photographing them in the environment with their rigs, affords me a unique look into a lifestyle that breaks down traditional notions of home and retirement. I am curious as to how this sea change in attitude affects perceptions of familial roots. The journey thus far has brought me to unexpected realizations of how the older generation has adapted to the Golden Years. Along the way I’ve discovered that many of the diesel pushers, class C’s, trailers, 5th wheels and toy haulers seen traveling down the road are not at all simply vacationers, but an entire subculture of wanderers looking to the next adventure.
About David’s photographic philosophy –
Over the past twenty years, I have attempted to hone my vision to better reflect the essence of the landscape as I see it. In that time, my approach has become quite contemplative, and resulting images more intimate and simple in design. My belief is that the true genius of nature lies in it’s most subtle moments. This way of thinking has ruled my photographic approach until recently. These days, I have shifted my emphasis as the difficulty in isolating landscapes free of human intervention has increased. I am now including evidence of human impact on the landscape – indeed, actual humans – in my images. I am looking more at how we use land and what we communicate through that use. In order to preserve what we have, I believe it is important to reveal what we are losing.
About David Gardner –
I live part-time in San Francisco and part-time in a 26 ft. Lazy Daze motorhome, christened Carpe Diem, pursuing my photographic interests across the continent. I am largely self-taught, but consider my longtime friendship with fine art photographer Stephen Johnson, and the likes of Richard Misrach, Linda Connor and Bob Dawson to be the basis of my photographic inspiration and proficiency. I studied graphic arts and multimedia design at San Francisco State University, and attend classes and lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute as time permits. My work has been exhibited across the country in numerous juried and invited venues.
For more of David’s work, log onto his website.