Peter and Kathy Holcombe traded in their Boulder, CO wedding and portrait studio for a Winnebago RV in 2014 and have been chasing dreams and adventures across North America ever since. While they continue to create fine art portraits in dramatic landscapes across the continent, they have replaced weddings with a thriving outdoor adventure division. They spend their days photographing in remote and wild environments and have even turned their lenses inward, creating social media content of their personal adventures for several top outdoor brands. You can learn more about the Holcombes and follow their adventures on their website at www.Famagogo.com or on Instagram @PeterHolcombe
We are driving along a two-lane road, it’s been a long day. 8 hours of driving and at least that many more ahead. There are supposedly mountains off in the distance, but a thick bank of afternoon storm clouds conceal them. We pull off for a much-needed ice-cream leg-stretcher and watch as the fury of the storm pummels the jagged peaks across the valley. Eventually, the ferocity of the tempest wanes and the clouds part, revealing a dazzling skyline. We spring into action to re-position our RV in hopes of catching a killer sunset backdrop behind the Winnebago. We scurry frantically setting up tripods and lights and then scramble onto the roof of casa Famagogo, just as the sun drops below the clouds creating a sunset for the memory books. We have no idea where the image will end up, but the allure of the perfect sky is irresistible.
I am jolted awake by a deafening alarm, reminiscent of a WWII air-raid siren that is blaring just outside my window. It takes me a minute to figure out where I am. I look around the RV and everything seems in order. I crack the blinds and the cobwebs of sleep are replaced with recognition of where I am and the mission ahead of us. The alarm is from the dam just upstream signifying a release of water through the giant turbines. Abby and Peter are stumbling around the Winnebago, getting ready for the day ahead: breakfast, snacks for later, cameras and drybags, and of course our paddling gear. Once the water from the dam release reaches our launch site, it’s go-time.
We scramble down to the edge of the river with our kayaks, shove waterproof bags of cameras into the stern and place them in our laps. We have just a few hours of whitewater before the dam and river are once again dormant. Today, we are creating images of a brand new kayak for one of our commercial clients. We spend the next few hours paddling through tumultuous whitewater, scrambling up slippery banks strewn with loose rocks, searching for the perfect angle, hiking back up with our boats, and re-running the rapid with a different line that results in a better composition. Up and down, again and again, until Peter declares, “We got it”.
Another alarm – this time it’s my phone. I open my eyes and find myself in an unfamiliar place: it’s an RV, but not the one we live in. I look over to find Peter already awake and in a blur of motion: moving batteries from their chargers back to our camera bags and conducting a final equipment check. Outside, we are surrounded by red sandstone towers deep in the Utah desert. Today’s mission: to create images of a brand new 4x4 RV for an upcoming product launch. I slide behind the wheel of the prototype, drop Peter off on the top of a cactus-covered knoll, and continue solo up a steep and narrow Jeep trail. The walkie-talkie beside me intermittently breaks the silence with directions: "Turn around and come back toward me…slowly…wait, stop there…take this next corner as fast as you can…ok, do that again…and again."
We milk every second of sweet light, working our way through the desolate landscape, lingering in the shadows of the canyon before the scorching desert sun forces us to call it a wrap. We spend the next six hours re-positioning to a new location so that we are poised and ready to shoot when the softness of the evening light returns. We trade in our shorts and t-shirts for jackets and long pants as an evening storm whips through the mountains just as we are ready to shoot. We press on with frozen cheeks and fingers, because rain or shine, we have a deadline.