James Barkman

 I flipped on my left blinker to turn into a gas station in San Luis Obispo to get some well needed gasoline in my tank. Avrie and I had just spent a few days exploring beaches and escaping crowds in Big Sur. We were on our way home, heading down the coast, and kept the tradition alive by filling up both our tank and stomachs in SLO, being the first bigger town on our way back. As I pulled the van up to an empty gas pump, Avrie brought up the idea of going to get food at a local café first and then filling up on our way out. As I mulled this over in my head, a loud growl from my stomach pretty much answered that question. We immediately left the gas pump and headed for an underrated café. 

I flipped on my left blinker to turn into a gas station in San Luis Obispo to get some well needed gasoline in my tank. Avrie and I had just spent a few days exploring beaches and escaping crowds in Big Sur. We were on our way home, heading down the coast, and kept the tradition alive by filling up both our tank and stomachs in SLO, being the first bigger town on our way back. As I pulled the van up to an empty gas pump, Avrie brought up the idea of going to get food at a local café first and then filling up on our way out. As I mulled this over in my head, a loud growl from my stomach pretty much answered that question. We immediately left the gas pump and headed for an underrated café. 

 After about an hour of stuffing our mouths with omeletes and coffee (may I remind you we were camping and did not have the must luxurious meals), we headed back to the same gas station we were prior to our breakfast. I pulled in for the second time to the same gas pump, at the same time seeing a long blonde-haired guy come  brap-ing  in on a street-legal dirt bike to the pump directly across for me. I got out to start filling up when I noticed this guy checking out my van. Seconds later he approached me and told me I had a sweet rig and he lives in a van himself. We exchanged a few more words and as I was leaving, we connected through Instagram for later communication. Little did I know at the time, this hippy looking dude was    James Barkman   , an insane photographer living out of his 1976 VW Westfalia, traveling and living my dream. I also didn't know that James would become a great friend of mine...

After about an hour of stuffing our mouths with omeletes and coffee (may I remind you we were camping and did not have the must luxurious meals), we headed back to the same gas station we were prior to our breakfast. I pulled in for the second time to the same gas pump, at the same time seeing a long blonde-haired guy come brap-ing in on a street-legal dirt bike to the pump directly across for me. I got out to start filling up when I noticed this guy checking out my van. Seconds later he approached me and told me I had a sweet rig and he lives in a van himself. We exchanged a few more words and as I was leaving, we connected through Instagram for later communication. Little did I know at the time, this hippy looking dude was James Barkman, an insane photographer living out of his 1976 VW Westfalia, traveling and living my dream. I also didn't know that James would become a great friend of mine...

 After we met for the first time, we messaged each other on social media and got super stoked off each others photos. At this point in time we exchanged cell phone numbers in case we noticed we were ever in the same area. This was the beginning of an era. 2 weeks later, I received a text from James letting me know he would be cruising through Santa Barbara on his way to LAX and wanted to grab coffee. I cancelled my plans and met him at Roasting Company and finally got to have a full conversation together. We shared each others stories and immediately connected on such a level, we were so stoked to be hanging. That night we planned to meet in Joshua Tree  in two weeks and camp for the weekend. That ended up being one of the most fun, influential trips of my life.  

After we met for the first time, we messaged each other on social media and got super stoked off each others photos. At this point in time we exchanged cell phone numbers in case we noticed we were ever in the same area. This was the beginning of an era. 2 weeks later, I received a text from James letting me know he would be cruising through Santa Barbara on his way to LAX and wanted to grab coffee. I cancelled my plans and met him at Roasting Company and finally got to have a full conversation together. We shared each others stories and immediately connected on such a level, we were so stoked to be hanging. That night we planned to meet in Joshua Tree  in two weeks and camp for the weekend. That ended up being one of the most fun, influential trips of my life.  

 James' indoor garden. Not only does it provide food, but an organic smell for the whole van.

James' indoor garden. Not only does it provide food, but an organic smell for the whole van.

 James is from PA, so he's used to colder weather, but it's different when you live in a tin box. In the colder months, James trades his garden for a wood-burning stove. 

James is from PA, so he's used to colder weather, but it's different when you live in a tin box. In the colder months, James trades his garden for a wood-burning stove. 

 During our trip in Joshua Tree, the van had a lot of trouble getting around. Every time we wanted to start it, James had to be at the engine with a screwdriver while I had to turn the key and simultaneously pump the gas. A few times we even started it by giving it a push. However, James has become quite the mechanic from all of the issues, and that is priceless.

During our trip in Joshua Tree, the van had a lot of trouble getting around. Every time we wanted to start it, James had to be at the engine with a screwdriver while I had to turn the key and simultaneously pump the gas. A few times we even started it by giving it a push. However, James has become quite the mechanic from all of the issues, and that is priceless.

 Shooting some Polaroids.

Shooting some Polaroids.

 Starting up a fire during a chilly morning in the desert. We woke to find that our water supply we left outside was almost frozen solid.

Starting up a fire during a chilly morning in the desert. We woke to find that our water supply we left outside was almost frozen solid.

 If I had to describe James in one word, it would probably be  gnarly.  This dude is an adrenaline junkie. He loves to push his limits just to say he did. He has a history of parkour and skateboarding, and has done some pretty questionable things. On this day, we climbed up a mountain of boulders, taking about half a day overall. We were high up. When we got to the top, James started skating around on the flat rock surfaces and ended up doing his infamous backflip. Behind him in this photo was a shear cliff, and he was backflipping right near the edge. Avrie and I were losing our heads while he did this, but I still managed to snap a few photos. 

If I had to describe James in one word, it would probably be gnarly. This dude is an adrenaline junkie. He loves to push his limits just to say he did. He has a history of parkour and skateboarding, and has done some pretty questionable things. On this day, we climbed up a mountain of boulders, taking about half a day overall. We were high up. When we got to the top, James started skating around on the flat rock surfaces and ended up doing his infamous backflip. Behind him in this photo was a shear cliff, and he was backflipping right near the edge. Avrie and I were losing our heads while he did this, but I still managed to snap a few photos. 

 Making pancakes.

Making pancakes.

 Little Miss Sunshine. Check out what we looked liked when we left our unpaid campsites in the morning before the ranger came around    here.

Little Miss Sunshine. Check out what we looked liked when we left our unpaid campsites in the morning before the ranger came around here.

 The main thing I look forward to when hanging with James is hearing him talk. He can tell a story like no other. He also has many interesting outlooks on life, and that's what I appreciate the most. Every time I talk with him around a fire, I leave feeling like I just read a novel in an hour. Dude's got wisdom.

The main thing I look forward to when hanging with James is hearing him talk. He can tell a story like no other. He also has many interesting outlooks on life, and that's what I appreciate the most. Every time I talk with him around a fire, I leave feeling like I just read a novel in an hour. Dude's got wisdom.

 I love re-telling the story of how I met James to people. I often think that it wasn't just a coincidence that we ran into each other at a gas station. If I decided to fill up the first time and eat breakfast after, our paths probably would have never crossed, at least for the time being. James and I both feel that it was something more of a coincidence looking back at it. Since meeting James, I've learned so much in the world of photography and being outdoors. He's been a huge encouragement to pursue my passion of taking photos and creating rad things, something I've really needed lately. Stoked to call Barky a friend.

I love re-telling the story of how I met James to people. I often think that it wasn't just a coincidence that we ran into each other at a gas station. If I decided to fill up the first time and eat breakfast after, our paths probably would have never crossed, at least for the time being. James and I both feel that it was something more of a coincidence looking back at it. Since meeting James, I've learned so much in the world of photography and being outdoors. He's been a huge encouragement to pursue my passion of taking photos and creating rad things, something I've really needed lately. Stoked to call Barky a friend.

Some more links:

Instagram: @jamesbarkman

jamesbarkman.com