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A photo book and web series of 4 artists using photography to connect, share, and learn while on the open roads of Latin America.
261 backers pledged $18,400 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$18,400

261

Our success in raising three quarters of our fundraising goal in such a short time has led us to announce a stretch goal of $20,000. Watch the video to see what we can do with $5,000 more.

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 We are Vanajeros, four young professional photographers and filmmakers, driving our 1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia through Mexico, Central and South America, capturing images of people and places that usually elude tourists and travelers. 

Millions of tourists travel the world every day taking photos.  As we travel, we would like to upend this dynamic by giving the pictures back to the people we photograph, as we create lasting images and stories to share with our followers. 

The authentic travel experience we crave is elusive, and the idea of just taking photographs on this journey seemed to lack the scope we wanted. By giving printed portraits to the people we photograph, we’re hoping to break down the barriers that usually exist between strangers.

Our van will be outfitted as a mobile workspace to make and print portraits. We’ve had a brief chance to see the effect of giving away our portraits--in exchange we were quickly trusted with stories of others’ lives, opening the doors for deeper connection and a more genuine exchange.

 

For us, there’s always been a draw to Latin America. From the poetic language to the pura vida lifestyle, the passion for cultural expression is something we can’t wait to experience. It's something we are excited to fully embrace, and it’s also the foundation for this project: to expand our cultural worldview and explore another.

With 12,000 miles to cover and more than 10 countries to cross, this exploration represents a lot to us as young people who are curious about what travel will do for our art and our minds.

Our connections to Latin America vary. Aidan, having spent the most time in this part of the world, is our guide in many ways.  Madison is finally seeing a place she has only experienced through studying books. Joel is on a mission to push himself artistically and otherwise, while Parker has been using travel and photography to learn and connect with people.

Through our journey, through our lenses, and ultimately through portraits we will explore different cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic enclaves that are not listed in the travel guides. 

We will be releasing video episodes every two weeks (internet availability permitting) that will serve as updates and chapters to this adventure. We invite you to join us by following  the ups and downs of life exploring the open road. We will be posting to our website, Vanajeros.com.

We also will make a hard cover book that tells our story from beginning to end through each of our best photographs and writing. This book will be available to our supporters (check out the rewards section for your contributions) upon the completion of our journey. 

We love our van, and at 29 years old, she's the oldest member of our group. Not only is she our mobile studio, but she also (somewhat) comfortably sleeps all four of us with only minimal unsolicited cuddling. We've been spending the past several months retrofitting her, adding things like wood floors and custom birch side panels to make her feel more like a home than a vehicle. She’s perfect in every way, except that we haven’t settled on a name yet, so if anyone out there has a great van moniker please drop it on us. 

We are lucky enough to be sponsored by GoWesty, a company dedicated to outfitting and restoring Vanagons. With their help, we will be getting the van into tiptop shape before we venture south of the border.

1985 VW Vanagon Westfalia Wolfsburg Edition // Home-Studio-Clubhouse

Outfitted by GoWesty

From artsy fartsy to young professionals, the Vanajeros represent a blend of creative types. Excelling in our different roles creates an amazing push-pull of ideas between each of us, perfect for trying to hone our craft or increase the depth and breadth of our individual work. 

Four perspectives of the same experience may seem like a lot for one vehicle, and it’s true: there’s going to be such a thrilling amount of potential to work with, we’re going to have trouble keeping the top unpopped. 

Here's a few examples of us flexing our creative muscles:

 Our project has caught the eye of some pretty big names! 

 What will we do with your donation?

 *PIXURU is an awesome company that makes beautiful prints directly from your mobile device. They are helping us make this project possible by printing a large amount of our rewards! Check out Pixuru.com for more about great company!

Risks and challenges

Driving through Latin America will be very risky at times. We understand that we will find ourselves in places or situations that are dangerous, and that exercising proper judgment is essential to our success. Aidan has spent a year living in Ecuador and three years traveling around Central and South America. He and Madison are completely fluent in Spanish and are comfortable and familiar with the terrain. That being said, there will be unexpected road bumps that we're bound to encounter, so we have to make sure that we are prepared and cautious. We will be traveling with backup car parts, and camera gear so that the inherent little breakdowns that we come up against will never be nails in the coffin of this expedition.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Your name will be printed in our ‘Vanajeros’ book as a thank-you for providing the funds for making the portrait possible.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    We will send you an e-mail with an image that your contribution helped make possible, add your name to the thank-you page in our book, and send you limited edition stickers.

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    71 backers
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 50 or more About US$ 50

    A creative personalized thank-you (an image of your name and a thank-you spelled out with shells from the beach, written in the dirt on the van, or whatever you want), and we will print the image in the back of our hard-cover 'Vanajeros' book, and a few of our snazzy stickers.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 75 or more About US$ 75

    6"x6" canvas printed by Pixuru. Choose your favorite image from a personal gallery of our best photos taken during the project, get it printed on canvas, and have it delivered to your house! You'll get a handful of stickers, too.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    Get a signed, one-of-a-kind, original Polaroid taken in South America just
    for you, *a digital copy of our photo book*, and our limited edition
    stickers.

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    24 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    Choose one of two Vanajeros t-shirts, and receive a digital copy of our photo book with your name included in the Thank You section. Plus, we’ll send you a 6”x 6” image on canvas from a personal gallery of our best photos taken during the project, printed by Pixuru. Top that off with a handful of our stickers!

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    7 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 300 or more About US$ 300

    24"x 30" image printed by Pixuru. Choose your favorite image from a
    personal gallery of our best photos taken during the project, and get it
    delivered to your house. We'll even top that off with a *digital copy of
    our photo book* and a Vanajeros t-shirt.

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    5 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    Hardcover copy of our photo book, and personalized thank-you printed in the back of the book, as well as a few stickers.

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    4 backers
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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 750 or more About US$ 750

    Hardcover copy of our photo book, personalized thank-you printed in back of book, a signed, one-of-a-kind, original Polaroid taken in South America, and limited edition stickers.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    A Skype call with the crew from Central or South America, a hardcover copy of our photo book, personalized thank-you printed in back of book, and a framed 8"x 10"photo of your choice of your favorite image from a personal gallery of our best photos taken during the project, printed by Pixuru. And a shirt! And stickers!

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    Send us to a location of your choice in Central or South America (distance/safety within reason, see map below for our route). We will dedicate one webisode to this location, and to you! You will also receive a signed, one-of-a-kind Polaroid taken at the location, a hardcover copy of our photo book, and a stylish Vanajeros t-shirt.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About US$ 5,000

    Send us your location and (reasonable distance permitting, see map below) the Vanajeros will host a private photo shoot of you and yours! You'll also get a hardcover copy of our photo book, a framed 8"x 10" photo of your choice from a personal gallery of our best work taken during the project (printed by Pixuru), a one-of-a-kind Polaroid photo taken in South America, two Vanajeros t-shirts, and limited edition stickers.

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Funding period

- (22 days)