This summer, longtime truck driver Steve Shepherd will take to North America’s roads for the umpteenth time. But he’ll do so in a very different way than he ever has before.
This time, the company driver for Industrial Maintenance and Service Corporation in Richmond, Va., will be taking a leave of absence from his CDL trucking job to do something far more special.
He’ll be living his dream.
Six months ago, Shepherd and his girlfriend, Maryann Sloan, bought a 2002 school bus. They converted it to an RV and drive it all over North America for several months.
Then, from Canada’s Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia in the East to California and Alaska in the West, Shepherd and Sloan will blanket the continent, savoring its beauty from behind the wheel and through Shepherd’s lens.
Photography Will Bring Their Journey to Life
For Shepherd not only is a veteran truck driver of 27 years. He also is a talented photographer who loves taking pictures from the road. He and Sloan keep a travel blog throughout their trip and shoot photos they plan to publish in a coffee table book at the trip’s end.
With stops that include Niagara Falls, Montreal, Memphis, New Mexico, Texas and myriad places in between, Shepherd and Sloan plan to explore as many national parks as they can.
“Good Lord, just talking about it makes Maryann and I excited about the adventures that lie before us,” Shepherd says.
In addtion, Shepherd is an avid outdoorsman who embraces the opportunity to pass through rural America as part of his CDL driver job. Something about old barns and farm buildings captivates him most of all. Overall, he loves the lines, the shadows he sees in them.
“There are so many barns and farm buildings,” he marvels. “And so many of them are abandoned. I always wonder what the story is behind them.”
The Advent of Technology
When he’s on the road for his CDL driver job, it’s easy and safe for Shepherd to take photos. That’s because his Olympus camera works by voice command. He simply mounts it to a GoPro stand and he’s off and running.
“You can aim it in any direction you want,” he says. “All I have to do is say ‘shoot’ and I’m taking pictures.”
Shepherd has liked photography for 15 years, but he never pursued it until a few years ago, when technology had advanced enough to lower the price of cameras.
“Nowadays you can buy a high-quality camera with only a small financial burden,” Shepherd says. “With the apps that are out there, editing your photography is so much easier, too.”
While Shepherd is moved by barns, nature and the ephemeral light of dawn and dusk, he’s also inspired by those who take note of his talent.
“Getting a response from people, being able to share my photography, it inspires me to do more with it,” Shepherd says. “Out here on the road, I see so much stuff that I know people won’t have an opportunity to see. It’s easy to capture it all with a camera and share with others a visual experience as opposed to a verbal experience.”
On a more personal level, Shepherd says Sloan, his girlfriend of nearly three years, first inspired him to take photos. So when Shepherd takes a photo he likes, she is the first person he shares it with.
“She’s the one who bought my camera for me. She’s the one who was inspired by the pictures I take and said, ‘You really need to do something with this.’ So she’s a lot of my motivation.”
The two will be inspired all the more this summer when they board their RV for the adventure of a lifetime.
Because out on the road, “you just never know what’s going to be around the corner,” Shepherd says.
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All photos by Steve Shepherd
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