Lifestyle Photography | James Barkman


When I first moved into the van [I] realized and recognized that it was very important for me to create space to be creative for me there was no better way to be inspired than live on the road and wake up in a new location every day and and that’s Really helped me establish more of my voice and to find the work that I do I would consider myself to be a lifestyle and documentary and Adventure photographer the Direction I’m headed is definitely more documentary expedition style stuff a lot of the people that I’m inspired by their work are the national geographic guys and People like that that are doing photojournalism real-Time real-Deal Expeditions, whatever it is. That’s what I would aspire to do I landed an internship [slash] employee position with a photographer by the name of Chris Burkard in California And that’s kind of how everything changed and how I moved out here if I wouldn’t have quit my job But moved into my van done all these trips and built my portfolio or my body of work I wouldn’t have been equipped to land that position Ever since then I’ve been building momentum and growing in my client base and my work Which is really exciting and I’m so grateful for [id] I honestly had no idea what would happen once I cruised out here if the van would even make it a Lot of people think that you have to have it all [figured] out Before you really take steps towards and things that you love, but it’s not true [it] doesn’t all fall into [place] And then you take the step of faith you take the step of faith and things happen sometimes It doesn’t happen the way you want it to but that’s all part of the adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way My name is James Barkman. I am 22 years old last may I drove my van 3,500 miles cross country to the West coast or since my internship I’ve kind of just been cruising around living on the Road and Doing freelance photography and a little bit of filmmaking stuff there’s nothing more exhilarating and exciting than the open Road [and] breaking down and meeting people and just all the thrills and risks of Adventure and everything that the lifestyle this van enables is awesome Around two years ago really started contemplating the fact that I don’t want to live life with any regrets whether I go for something And it fails and like I buy a bus and it breaks down it’s it’s worth it as long as I go for I Found it on Craigslist, and it was maybe half a year So you’re three quarter of year after that that I decided to move into it? I was living in an apartment with a couple roommates between three and five days out of the week I was literally gone camping in this and I was like I’m Paying all this money to live in this spot that I’m never actually at most of the things I owner in this bus It’s way more practical than people think So I was an assistant manager at a manufacturing shop They basically made this invention that was for roofing and it was a really good job But I really knew that it wasn’t what I was created for it I? Probably worked in that job six years I think it was so good and necessary that I worked there because I learned work ethic how to push through stagnant times in your life work hard And be responsible all those different dynamics that really helped me to sustain what I’m doing now And if I wouldn’t have done [that] I don’t believe I would be doing what I’m [doing] now Before [I] actually quit my job I had been taking more steps towards building my portfolio and growing becoming more established as a photographer or as a creative as Intimidating and saturated as that was I really felt like is what I needed to do Quit my job Started making shrimp [sight] cruise through the [northeast] new England states, and I’d saved a lot of money But I was trying not to just blow it my family thought I was [whacked]. They’re like you’re throwing away your opportunities What are you doing, but I knew is what I needed to do and I knew somehow I was investing in the future even if I couldn’t explain and define what I was doing When I moved out and in turn for Chris it was a great learning experience And I think a lot of times when you do an internship of that nature, it’s like a [make-or-break] it thing you’re like I want to continue doing this or I don’t want anything to do with this. This is not what [I] realized I Was very grateful to be a part [of] a lot of commercial shoots? Second shooting and assisting whereas a lot of interns kind of sit in office I was able to do a lot of trips and projects, so I think I learned that for one I’m very capable and come alive in an intense and High-pressure environment where you are expected to produce and expected to shoot great work I think there’s so many different aspects of [photography] or of being a creative There’s the business side, and there’s the creative side and you need both It was a very healthy experience to learn that business side and what it takes and how to hold weight in the creative world how to speak the language of a creative and how to communicate with big-name brain [it’s] really surprising to Move into the van and just kind of do what I loved and then realize it’s almost like a whole culture There’s a lot of sketchy people living there vans because they’re broke and they do drugs But there’s also a lot of people living there vans because they want to live outside of the box And they’re creatives or they’re filmmakers. It’s I feel like I’ve met every sort of person and it’s incredibly [inspiring] I’ve learned a lot Consistently it will break down And you’re always having to change parts change the feel filter change the feel pump change [you] know the head Change the coil change the mass air flow meter stuff like that It’s just been sometimes a nightmare, but also the best learning experience when you break down and you have to figure it out The van just it gets like 10 to 13 miles per gallon, and I was surf all the time and drive super far So I was like I need a motorcycle that can cruise 70 miles to the gallon I’ve saved so much money, so I bought a [dual-sport] 91 Isuzu Pdi 350 had the idea in my head that what if I made a hitch for the van and then towed the bike somehow Actually ended up finding a sketchy welder welded me the hitch to the bumper And I bought a trailer off Craigslist for like a hundred bucks It’s probably like 80 percent slower, but the van and the bike and the surfboards and the snowboard [to] skateboard It’s everything I love and I’ll sacrifice a little bit of speed for that A Lot of the people I admire our people who they really worked hard not just to develop an aesthetic But to to develop their voice you know and it’s I think what I guess ever created the sense is striving towards sometimes you kind of flip-flop between Being like stressed out and being ridiculously inspired because it’s such a saturated world especially like the whole [adventure] thing It is like sometimes. I have no idea what I’m doing is sometimes I’m like I know exactly what everything so I’m still figuring about and developing my voice in the creative world And I think it’s very important not just to pursue work opportunities but to find your voice because that in the long run will speak for itself and then people will [seek] [you] [out] I Would say I’m still learning and sometimes it’s stressful and then also in this big job lands And you’re like why was I worried and then sometimes you’re like. Oh man, how am I going to make money? But it’s like I said it’s worth it. I Don’t want to live safe, and I [don’t] want to live in a secure environment where there’s no variables for risk and failure It’s it’s real you know I’m writing the story and [figuring] out I Would aspire to do more like documentary photojournalism type of work. I would love to do work in conflict Zones. [I’d] love to do more expeditions like mountaineering and stuff like that those type of environments are What I love because it’s easy these days to pick up a camera and [take] a nice photo But it’s harder to tell Story And it’s harder to go in environments in places that most people aren’t willing to go and freezing all night long Wake up, early and shoot the sunrise and hike 10 miles through snow. I love that stuff people live with a lot of material [things] that are completely unnecessary and Living in a van has enabled me to quiet the noise of my life and The distractions and really get rid of things that I don’t need I mean I didn’t know it would turn out like this or even [be] sustainable. It’s proved to be true. I’ve had experiences that I never dreamed I would have I wake up every morning, and I’m just so grateful to live like this I Don’t think it’s as important as what you do or where you go? It’s wherever you [are] just being there for all your heart and investing in people investing in relationships We’re designed to be around people to help others and be helped by others It’s very important for me to surround myself with people who motivate inspire and push me to grow I feel like I’m always Looking for those people and I think that’s what’s really going to hold weight and matter at the end of the day is the people That you met and the people that you impacted rather than what you attained for yourself Is so important to go for your dreams even before all the steps are in place? I think a lot of people are selling themselves out because they’re making [decisions] out of fear and they’re not going for the dreams that they have because they’re scared of And I think that’s such a tragedy honestly and whether you [live] [and] whether you have a boat whether you do the himalayas It’s so important to do what? [be] who you’re created to be and I want to inspire people to do just that

100 Replies to “Lifestyle Photography | James Barkman”

  1. That is my old Bus James, from 1990/91
    I can tell because of the damage done to the front end – it was done on the i5 in LA, when a convertible BMW in front of me braked hard .. so i slammed on my brakes – Ps. Kombi campers don't brake well … and I glided into the back of them. Could only afford to have the front face pulled out. The front bumper was taken off a Kombi wreck I found in the Mojave desert. The new roof canvas was paid for by one of the Aussie girls traveling with me at the time, that somehow managed to fall through the side of the old one, one night while sleeping up there. The Kombi was a joy back then, only Low miles and I paid $1600 for it from a seller in Tucoma WA. I spent 18 months traveling in that bus, so many fond memories for an Aussie on his 1st Safari ! 🙂

  2. Mature words from a 22 year old. At some point the lifestyle will probably be suspended for a period of time, but live it while you are able. I did the same thing over 40 years ago, and now that I am old and have lots of time for myself, I'm going to do it again. See you on the road.
    Carpe diem!!!

  3. This video was shared as a great example of film making. I took one look at the subtitle it was given on that page, like "photographer promotional video," saw it was over 12 minutes, and groaned.

    BUT then I started watching it, and the combination of the unusual story, James's personality, wisdom, energy, and the simply compelling cinematography and editing just made the time fly by. Fabulous job all around.

  4. Zeker inspirerend, toffe gozer, prachtige beelden… als je 22 bent is dit natuurlijk helemaal te gek! Ik zie het me nu ff niet meer fulltime doen, maar

  5. This might be a stupid question, but how exactly is he making money driving around in that bus taking pictures? Clients hire him along the way to do projects?

  6. Real and inspirational. Living life with the bare essentials and fading out the distractions which can drown out what really matters. Instead gaining a strong understanding and gratitude for what you are and what you have.

  7. What camera did james barkman use in this video/photos?they look so sharp.is it the manual focus or the resolution of the camera?

  8. Ok Patagonia……..you really want to live up to your cool reputation?!? Then SPONSOR JAMES!! This guy is your ambassador waiting to happen!!

  9. You are so amazing and inspiring! Loved you van, easy life style (well it looks easy but I know it isn't!!) and beautiful photographs!! Well done mate and look forward to see more of your travel stuff 😎😎😊👍👍👍

  10. Such a major point of this video is at 3:56 when he talks about persevering and pushing through adversity, 'work hard be responsible'. Today's youth is losing sight of that and not experiencing for themselves some of the hardships in life….hardships that will ultimately help define ones personality and instill the confidence to explore for the perfect niche we will all fit into.

  11. I just wanted to say, YouTube has been pushing this video out on my featured list for probably over a year. Majority of the time I ignored it. I have no idea why… but in a way maybe YouTube AI knew I should watch this.

    Yet here we are.

  12. Would love a wood burner like this for my van. Anton know where i could get that set up?? Video is amazing by the way!!

  13. and this is how we get homeless people to be younger and younger. I guess the message can be taken either way but…. everyone is free to choose their life style. good luck with everything kid, live the dream! kudos to you for your courage.

  14. muchacho el video esta muy bien logrado, pero si deseas tener exito en la vida, no la lleves al limite, fue incorrecto subir la torre de alta tension ,no se debe y menos sin anclajes.. si amas tu vida ?…y las fotos… cuidala…. its the only one life!! saludos..

  15. You said you wanted to inspire people…you definitely inspired me. Crazy watching this video and then at the end seeing the PA license plate since im from PA…love it

  16. Dude if you're only getting that kind of mileage then something is wrong with the van. I've been around VW since the day I was born and I'm now 60. Even towing your trailer you should be getting high 20s to 30 mpg. Love the video, you need a dog.

  17. Very Inspiring! I have a VW California Beach T5 2.5TD 130CV, MacBook Pro 17", I bought everything secondhand and thinking doing a similar thing crossing from Spain to India, through former Soviet Union.

  18. This is really cool!!!! I just started making videos and this is inspiring! Great work, love your style! 👌🏻

  19. Hanging ten with ice-cycles forming on your toes – extreme and wonderful! the road less traveled by! I wish you continued happiness!

  20. Of coarse money is needed to live in this changing world..but u don't need to be next barren buffet or bill gates to find happy in ur life..be presistant in what u like to do..and gain success in that..one day u have a happy story to tell..

  21. This guy's understanding of developing work ethic is what is drastically missing in our generation. With his attitude, he will make things work, no matter what he's doing. Great video!

  22. I am excited for you and the great adventure you are documenting here……thanks. I am a motorcycle and air cooled VW fan.

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