The perfect morning view.

How one photographer found the perfect work-life balance in the back of a van

For outdoor photographer Steve Rokks, a custom-built van allows him to play longer in the greatest places on Earth, and to wake up to views like the one above.

"If I could pack up my family and live out of a van, I would; there’s a simplicity to that life I love. My current life—with my wife, three young kids, and a ton of photography equipment—is not conducive to being on the road full time, but I built a van with a bed, a stove, and even a refrigerator so I can head out for stints of a few weeks.

"The van allows me to take photographs and make films without sacrificing time in places like Yosemite, which is, to me, the center of the universe. There’s no hotel to get back to, no reason to leave, and I find I stay in the moment more.

"This particular morning, I was in Yosemite waiting to capture Hans Florine’s 100th ascent of El Capitan. As I did most mornings, I opened the back doors while I was making coffee, and that’s when I saw Tunnel View, one of my favorites in the park. It never gets old. The first time I saw it, my jaw dropped. I put the camera away and just looked.”

—As told to Maggie Fuller

>>Next: A Voyage Through Time