Ready, steady… errr go!

Big Blue Is finished, or at least finished enough for a test drive, so it’s time to get her on the road and start making the dream become a reality.

Life’s course is never, as much as we may wish it to be, a straight line. There are curves, bends and deviations that move us away from the heading we thought we were taking. And so it is with our home on wheels. 

Our first foray in to living in the truck did not run as smoothly as we’d have hoped. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun, or that there was anything especially wrong, it’s just that it takes time to settle in to a smaller space and, as with al building projects, there were snags we needed to work through. Since our plan is to end up in far-flung places, this is especially important because finding out there’s a problem in the UK or Western Europe is a far nicer proposition that discovering it in the middle of Africa, or on the Mongolian Steppe. 

And so our first trip in the truck was deliberately not very adventurous. After a series of delays around the truck being finished due to the availability of RAW materials, we moved in and spent December travelling around France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Now you may ask why, and in truth, it would be a very good question. Northern Europe in winter is not an especially wonderful place to be, especially with the spectre of covid still hanging in the air. But, I had some work I was due to do in the Netherlands so it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately that work evaporated in the pre-Christmas COVID cloud, but unfettered, we decided to continue with our plans. And the reality is that despite it being photographically poor, it was the best baptism of fire we could have hoped for. We found several snags that we needed to sort, but none that were sufficient to derail us. We got stuck in a field in France, but no so badly we couldn’t get ourselves out, and we spent a lot of time cleaning the floor from the inevitable mud! 

It also gave time to find homes for some important things – my camera kit. 

Travelling with camera kit is always a challenge. You always want more than you can take and there has to be some tough decisions about what goes and what stays. It’s the same when packing kit in to a truck to live in full-time – at least with a house you can have some things at home to get back to, but living on the road requires some serious culling and really honest appraisals of what you need and don’t need. And that too is a long process, especially when you’re as varied in the subject you shoot as I like to be. 

That process extends beyond the obvious cameras and lenses and includes post-production as well. Building a tiny home on wheels that still functions as a viable workspace has been a challenge, but we’ve managed to create space for not just a computer and my G-Technology Shuttle SSD, but also my 31” 4K Eizo monitor. Admittedly this will do dual duty as a TV for streaming shows and films, and no doubt my daughter will be watching cartoons on it as she gets older. I just hope she appreciates the incredible colour rendition of Peppa Pig and friends that the monitor provides when she does so! 

So Northern Europe in winter acted as a good proving ground, even if it didn’t yield much excitement photographically. 

Here’s hoping the new year brings new challenges, better light and a more photography, not to mention a slightly more direct path for a while! 


By Chris Coe

Chris is a professional photographer, and the founder of Travel Photographer of the Year. He has been working as a professional photographer since 1992, shooting both editorial and advertising photography, and has published over 50 books. He lectures on and teaches photography, mentors and is a competition judge.