Updated: Oct 4
What is the aim?
There are several goals and aims for this road trip, including:
Helping as many small charities as possible with free photography services and images for their marketing and fundraising efforts.
Donate 10-50% of sales proceeds to Mental Health, Homeless and Animal charities.
Create a website/blog that will become a valuable tool for people around the globe looking to visit the UK or Europe.
Several photobook projects.
Travel guides - I'm likely to produce a travel guide for each country that I visit during my travels. These guides will feature places you should see when visiting, where to eat and stay and places that you can park for the day/overnight in a motorhome or campervan.
Non-fiction books of my experiences on the road, specifically aimed at the middle age traveller.
Who is Elton Cilliers?
At age 47, Elton has made the decision to chase his lifelong dream of undertaking a road trip to really experience the world in which he lives.
Having spent 40 years of my life taking photographs, to say it’s a passion doesn’t really do it justice.
Originally from Durban, South Africa, I moved to England in January 1999. I have since been working in the IT industry as a Technical Consultant/Pre Sales Engineer with extensive Project and Account Management experience also.
Whether the decision to completely downsize and relocate myself from England to Wales to be in a position where I can purchase a camper van and hit the road for a year (the dream is for longer however this will depend on the support I get from the general public and businesses) is down to a midlife crisis or losing my enthusiasm to work in an industry in which I had suffered 4 redundancies I can’t really say. Reality is it’s probably a combination of the two.
Another driving factor is simply being reminded, after the sudden and unexpected death of a very close friend, that I, like so many others, take life for granted.
What made you decide to do this?
My preschool years (2 - 6) were spent primarily travelling around South Africa with my grandparents. It is during this time that my love for travelling and exploring became heavily entrenched in me. This is also where my passion for photography started as I was given a camera to be the official tour photographer! Whenever we came across a great landscape, natural feature, man-made features it was my job to capture my grandparents standing in front of it.
It was my intention when I came to England in 1999 to travel as much as possible. However, the reality is you can’t REALLY travel when you want to start a family. Having a family took priority and for the past 20 years in the UK, I have been in full-time employment, with most of my holidays being spent with my children.
I am now at the position where my children are older and it is feasible for me to undertake this lifelong dream of doing a road trip. For the past year, I have also been involved in personal projects around Mental Health Awareness and Homelessness and have this desire and need to be able to try and give back and help those less fortunate than myself, or help in any way I can to make available support to people suffering from Mental Health issues. Especially men since they are 4x more likely to commit suicide than women.
Simply because as men we are raised that showing weakness is not ‘manly’. “Only women talk about their emotions!”, “Boys don’t cry!” yadda yadda yadda.
As a father of two teenage kids, it is immensely important to me that they know that it’s okay not to be okay. That talking about how you’re feeling, or how something others are doing is making you feel, is okay! That life does throw lemons at you and it’s okay if you can’t juggle them!
After a visit to Cambridge in the summer of 2019 at 5 am in the morning, I was shocked at the sheer number of rough sleepers I saw. Literally someone in every doorway, down every alley! It was at this moment, despite having recently been made redundant and not in a great place myself, that I realised just how lucky I was. I may not have felt lucky but at least I had a roof over my head. At least I owned a home. But then it struck me. If I don’t get sufficient business from my fledgeling photography business (founded in June 2019) I wouldn’t be far off living on the streets myself! It dawned on me just how suddenly things can change in someone’s life. When I was in IT, I worked my way up to being in the top 5% of earners in the UK. But one redundancy too many and suddenly I am facing the serious prospect of becoming homeless! Why not get another job in IT? I hear some of you ask? I simply do not have the passion for it any longer. Or motivation. And to be in a position where you are having to convince YOURSELF every morning why you need to go to work is not a great place to be.
Life is too short to do something you have to convince yourself to do! Life should be about jumping out of bed in the morning screaming “Bring it on!”
So what are you doing?
I have now listed my house in Haverhill, Suffolk for sale. I will be taking the equity from the sale to buy a small house in Wales to act as a ‘base’ and relocate myself.
I will then purchase a camper van and set off for a 1-year road trip of the UK & Europe. My dream is to travel for much longer than this, however, how long I am able to stay on the road will really be determined by the support I get from the general public during my travels. I am committed to 1 year because financially, this is how long I’d be able to self-fund in worst-case scenario world (I’ve delivered over 200 projects in the past 10 years, I’m not about to stop having risk logs now!).
I have a blog on my website (https://www.emcphotography.biz/blog) that I will be using primarily for travel photography and regular posts about my road trip. I will also start up a YouTube channel as I may not always have the time to write up blog posts so videos may be a quicker option. I will also post how I took a particular shot for those budding photographers out there.
It is my hope that I can turn this blog into a resource for both Brits wanting to undertake a road trip in the UK or Europe, and tourists who wish to visit the UK.
I have put online my own stock photography portal and will be adding hundreds/thousands of pics to this whilst on the road.
Why should I care?
As mentioned previously, an important part of going self-employed in June, and now looking to take my photography business on the road, was to have the freedom to give back and help where I can.
This isn’t simply about me wanting to have an extended holiday on the road.
I will be donating to charities (especially focussing on those involved with Mental Health and Homelessness) in the following ways:
20-50% of all stock photography sales will be donated. The charity receiving the donation will be determined by the image sold. For example, if it is an image of a homeless person, then the donation will be made to the homeless charity in that country. If it’s a mental health awareness image then the money is donated to MIND (in the UK) or the equivalent charity in the local country where the image was taken.
20-40% of selected photobook sales will be donated. I will be looking to put together and sell photobooks during my travels. Some of these will be related to homelessness or mental health (40% donation on these photobooks) whilst others may be portraits of people captured on the streets in a particular country. Or some of the greatest landscapes captured in Scotland. Or a book of wildlife captured in Croatia. You get the idea.
20-40% of selected calendar sales. As with the photobook sales, I will look to create a few different calendars for each year I’m on the road (the first set, therefore, being for 2021).
10-40% of limited edition prints donated. Some of the images I’ll capture on my travels will be offered as limited edition prints only. Depending on the subject matter more money is donated to charity with a minimum of 10% being donated.
10% of any commissioned work will be donated. It is my hope, that whilst I’m on the road, you, the general public or business owner, will engage with me to commission me for fee earning work (more on that below) to keep the wheels on the bus going round and round.
My time and services to charities along my journey route who require photography work. If you are a charity aligned with mental health, homelessness, cancer (adults and children), animal conservation and/or cruelty prevention, dementia, in fact, pretty much any charity who help people or animals that need support. I obviously will have to limit the number of days a month I can donate to work with charities so I will prioritise those charities that are close to my heart.
In addition, if you are a keen traveller, or a tourist looking to plan a trip to the UK or Europe, I hope to build the blog in combination with YouTube in a great resource for you to plan your trip.
I will attempt to visit as many tourist attractions (especially those more obscure, quirky, off the beaten track locations) and create a directory on the blog.
I’ll also obviously be posting images and where time allows, how-to videos, tips and tricks etc. So if you’re a buddy photographer, or indeed a seasoned photographer wanting to get some ideas for new locations, please do sign up to the mailing list for updates. You can also sign up to the blog itself for immediate updates of new posts.
How can I get involved?
If you would like to help me realise a lifelong dream of exploring the world in which I live and allow me to be in a position to help others through charity work and donations, this is how you can help.
Sign up to my mailing list. I will use the mailing list primarily to notify subscribers of my travel plans for the next week/month so that if any would like to work with me whilst I’m in their area, they can get in touch to arrange. I will also use this to notify you of new limited edition prints, new photobooks etc which will have donations to charity. I don’t plan to use it to bother you with constant sales or marketing emails.
Share and/or engage with my content! This, like the above items, costs you absolutely nothing and takes a few seconds of your time however your simple action could have a great ripple effect. For me to make a success of this and thereby able to donate to charity and help others, I need to be able to get traction for the road trip. You yourself may not be interested in anything I’m offering, you may not be interested in travel or photography or indeed, helping a charity. However, by simply liking or sharing content that I put out there, someone who is interested may well spot it and support in a financial way. So please can I urge you to like, comment or share as a simple way to support me and my ambitions.
Get featured on the blog! If you are a business in the travel, outdoor and hospitality sectors then please consider inviting me to visit your establishment. I will take photographs of you/staff and your venue and if you are up for it, even a video interview. You will have the opportunity to provide the history of your establishment, what you offer, what makes you unique etc which will then be put into a blog post and become part of the travel directory. I will also give my own personal review of course. There is NO COST to you in this. However, I would expect free entry into any fee-paying venues/attractions/activities etc and subsistence if you are an eatery. I can’t give an honest review if I haven’t experienced your establishment :)
Purchase my stock photography. Whether you’re a sole trader looking for some imagery for your flyers, website, blog post or a marketing team looking for images for commercial purposes, please consider having a look through my stock photography images. I have opted not to upload my stock images to the big players like Adobe Stock, Alamy etc because simply, they pay the photographer peanuts. I used Adobe stock previously but when I’m earning 40p on an image, giving 20p of that is both embarrassing and also not really feasible. With PicFair I receive 80% of the sales price and therefore am far more able to donate to the charities and still earn a little fuel for the bus!
Commission me for a photoshoot. Whether you are looking for a business headshot of yourself or an entire team. A portrait shoot of your family. A commercial shoot of your product. A branding shoot of your company during a ‘business as usual’ day. Food photography for your new menu or recipe book. Product photography for your eBay/Amazon/Etsy store or your wedding day I will have the necessary equipment with me during my travels. I will effectively be a mobile studio. Obviously I won’t actually have a studio however if a studio is required for your project, I have access to studio directories and can secure studio space in your location without too much hassle. As most of my work is either undertaken at your business premises or outdoors in a local park studio space is not usually a requirement. If you commission me for work along my route, whilst I’m near or in your city/town/village then you will obviously receive very competitive pricing as there would be minimal travel required for me. If you are requesting me to come and cover a wedding for example in another country, or several hundred miles from where I am you will need to be willing to cover travel and in some instances, accommodation costs.
Purchase my photobooks/calendars and limited edition prints.
Patreon. I will be setting up a Patreon site just before I set off on my travels. By becoming a Patreon you will have access to various items depending on the level of patreon you subscribe to. These will include behind the scenes footage. Content not released elsewhere. Free image downloads. Discounted photoshoot rates when I’m in your area. If you would consider supporting me this way, please do sign up to my mailing list so that once I set up the Patreon account you will be notified.
Buy Me A Coffee. An easier alternative to support me with one-off donations towards buying a coffee/putting some fuel in the van. Unlike Patreon, Buy me a coffee does not require that you create an account. Donations/support are quick and easy for you and believe me, every single penny is truly appreciated.
Recommend locations, attractions, venues I should visit on my journeys. I’m really looking to find some unusual and quirky venues that tourists may not necessarily find in popular travel magazines and websites. So I’m relying on readers and followers of the blog etc to be my local experts. Drop me an email, leave comments on the blog or social media posts and let me know of the local gems in your area!
Play local guide. Fancy getting out and playing local guide? Maybe share some knowledge of the local history. Show me the ‘best burger in town’ cafe?
Essentially, I need YOU, the public, to make a success of this. I’d love to be in the position where I can help as many people as possible and donate as much as possible to charities but I cannot do that on my own, unfortunately. I’m doing as much as I can, without becoming homeless myself to be in a position to be able to assist others for at least a year, I need your help to prolong that.
I hope you will join me for what is bound to be a journey of many highs and lows. Many laughs and I’m sure some tears.