Is This The Ultimate Photo Road Warrior Machine? Two Pros And Their PhotoMobile

Custom designed for camera gear, comfort, mobile Internet access, and that go-anywhere performance, pros Roger L. Johnson and Brad Perks now use the PhotoMobile for photographic assignments, executive portrait sessions on location, and mobile photo services coast to coast.

Johnson's ideas took flight during a trip through the Rocky Mountains with Perks. They were out to shoot fall colors in Utah and Colorado. They were traveling in a 40-foot motorhome built on a bus chassis. An SUV was in tow for the off-road portions of their trip. The bus had features like a full-size shower, washer/drier, and oven. It was everything they thought they needed to go take pictures in comfort and style.

Exterior of PhotoMobile at Mount Diablo State Park, Walnut Creek, California.
All Photos © 2006, Brad Perks and Roger L. Johnson, All Rights Reserved

All seemed great, but the bus slowed to a crawl over the mountain passes. The narrow roads were challenging to drive with a big rig. They required constant concentration. Dark clouds filled the skies near Flaming Gorge. It started to rain. A double rainbow appeared over orange-colored aspens. Excitement filled the air as they prepared to shoot a masterpiece. Miles down the road they finally found a spot large enough for that big rig to pull over. The rainbow was gone and so were the colorful aspens. There had to be a better way to go, or be able to stop.

Johnson saw a tricked out four-wheel drive camper van at their next destination. He remembered the web address and began dreaming about a more photo-friendly vehicle. Sportsmobile invited Johnson to hitch a ride on a convoy to Baja. He had a chance to see a variety of custom designs negotiating a rugged environment. He began to collect elements that were suited to his mobile photo needs. He assembled them like pieces of a puzzle. The team at Sportsmobile welcomed Johnson's frequent visits during the design and building process.

Main sleeping area folded down and custom cabinets.

The results were well conceived into a one-of-a-kind PhotoMobile.

His first consideration was the chassis. Johnson ordered a Ford four-wheel drive diesel-powered chassis with a bubble top. The four-wheel drive tractions through winter storms and rugged off-road adventures. There is no need to trailer an SUV. The turbo-charged diesel provides good mileage, range on a tank of fuel, and performance. No line of cars form behind this vehicle on a mountain pass. The bubble top allows you to stand up inside the vehicle. The top also converts into a second sleeping area at night.

Sportsmobile offers a selection of floor plans or lets you go as custom as you can dream. Cabinets designed for photo gear was part of Johnson's plan. He created extra storage by putting the sofa bed on a platform. This camera storage area is divided into three large chambers that can be locked up tight. A lock was designed that padlocks the rear doors to the bumper. It is secure storage even if someone breaks into the vehicle. It is large enough to accommodate lots of camera gear, including the main camera bag, a complete macro outfit in a second backpack/bag, the 600, the 400, a briefcase of filters, strobes, and diffusers. The second chamber holds tools and utilities. This platform has a third compartment that can be accessed from inside the vehicle. It was sized to fit three tripods.

Custom cabinet built into side door that holds coffee maker and outside cooking supplies.

The side wall contains a large camera storage cabinet and a tall closet for oversize items. Above the rear door are two cabinets for film and supplies. Four additional cabinets are located on either side of the sofa bed for computers and gear. Shelves were built that extend from the back to the front. During the day, luggage and sleeping gear disappear behind the sofa bed. The side doors have built-in storage with a fold-out countertop. A coffee maker lives there, poised for action before sunrise.