Victoria Campbell is a Minneapolis-based photographer whose body of work includes an impressive array of lifestyle, food, and, most recently, travel and landscape photography. Here, she chats about her recent road trip across America and gives an insider look at the moments she captured along the way.
Can you tell us about your process planning your road trip?
My husband and I had talked about taking this big four-week road trip for years, and we finally took the leap to begin planning after our plans to travel back to my home country of England last summer were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Our first step was purchasing a pop-up trailer. We took it on some trial runs in and around Minnesota last spring. We have always tent camped together, so the camper felt like a slice of luxury.
Next, we purchased a road atlas and started planning our route the old-school way. We had a general idea of which states we wanted to visit and, more importantly, the national and state parks we wanted to visit. Once we had outlined our route, we started to deep dive and get more specific on overnight locations based on the landscapes I wanted to photograph along the way.
Have you always had an affinity for travel?
For as long as I can remember, travel has been a huge part of my life. My parents traveled a lot before they had my brother and me, and they continued that tradition once we were born. One of my earliest travel experiences outside of the Western world is a family trip to Egypt when I was seven years old. I remember being struck by the smells, textures and animals — I genuinely thought camels were animals that only existed in storybooks prior to that trip. I was being introduced to a whole new world, and I absolutely loved it.
The drive to experience new cultures and landscapes has never left my system, and I have been fortunate enough that my travels have since taken me to every continent besides Antarctica. I actually have travel to thank for meeting my husband; we met as backpackers in a hostel in the South of France.
What was one of your favorite places you visited on your recent road trip?
The North Cascades in Washington absolutely blew me away. Interestingly, Washington was the state I was least excited about visiting; the research I had done just seemed to pale in comparison to Yellowstone and the legendary Oregon Coast. I was so wrong! Everything from the towering size of the trees and mountains to the emerald, blue-green colors of the lakes was an exaggerated version of anything I’d ever seen before. We did a lot of early morning drives to catch the sunrise over the mountains, and some of my favorite landscape images I’ve ever taken are from these mornings.
Are there any specific elements in nature that inspire your work as a photographer?
I am most inspired by a moment or an emotion that a particular landscape can evoke. That being said, give me a good sunrise or sunset, and I am set. I could photograph the same thing over and over again with the right light. I love how the movement of the sun can change the way we see something so significantly.
Do you have a favorite image you captured on this road trip?
The image of the two horses set against the Wyoming backdrop. It was 110 degrees that day, and we had been driving for hours. I remember dozing off and reopening my eyes to see these beauties. As is often the case, I yelled at my husband to stop the car so that I could snap this picture-perfect moment. Every time I look at this photo, I am transported right back into that scene.
Is there a go-to soundtrack you enjoy while road tripping?
We’ve always just played whatever Spotify throws at us. They have a really good playlist called Van Life. Although I will admit, this particular road trip there was a lot of Bruce Springsteen being played on repeat.
How did 2020 reshape your work as a photographer?
I have been able to focus more on my personal travel and landscape photography, which is what has always fueled me the most. Before the pandemic, I had told myself that I needed to focus on getting more big commercial jobs as it felt like the next step for me as a freelance photographer. In this field, it is very easy to compare yourself to others and the work they are producing.
I have been running my own print business as a casual side gig for a few years, but in the past year, I have been able to focus more energy into it. As a result, I have been able to release my largest print collection to date following my road trip. It has been an incredibly liberating creative and personal journey to build that arm of my business, and I am noticing that I am less afraid to apply my personal style to my freelance work as a result.
2020 also taught me that while I don’t always have the luxury of controlling the jobs I can say yes or no to, I absolutely love the way that creating images can bring people together in a truly meaningful way — be it a landscape, portrait, food dish or perfectly curated vignette. That is what I love about being a photographer, and that is what will forever fuel me. I just needed to be reminded of that, and despite its challenges, 2020 did that for me.