Chris Burkard and His Custom Mercedes-Benz Van


Ansel Adams, one of the most celebrated photographers in history, once owned a ’47 Pontiac Streamliner. It was a classic “woody” station wagon, curvy and spacious, with a large camera platform rigged atop its roof. “Many of his best-known images would be made from this perch,” says photography historian Mary Street Alinder in Ansel Adams: A Biography, “which eliminated the clutter of an immediate foreground and enabled his camera to see a greater distance, making possible the expansive vistas for which he became famous.” Indeed, one of Adams’ most beloved photographs, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, was snapped from atop his Streamliner mere seconds after he and his son, Michael, came to a screeching halt on the side of a dusty Sante Fe backroad.


“I always loved that story,” says Chris Burkard. “There were all these old videos from San Francisco of [Adams] loading up his car with, like, hundreds of pounds of camera gear, and setting off with his son in [the Streamliner] he had made into a mobile photography rig. I spent so much time on the road that I realized I was doing myself a disservice by not having something that could take my family, my assistants, or whoever, and just go.” 

Burkard, a 31-year-old professional photographer from San Luis Obispo, California, is in many ways Adams’ spiritual successor. Like Adams, Burkard’s creative achievements in landscape photography have garnered global acclaim; like Adams, Burkard’s fame (which includes 2.8 million followers on Instagram) has allowed him to travel the U.S. and the world beyond, documenting Earth’s most stunning natural wonders; like Adams, Burkard now has a custom four-wheeled photography rig — a ’06 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, complete with a large camera platform atop its roof.

Read the full story over on Gear Patrol.

2006 Mercedez-Benz Sprinter Custom

2006 Mercedez-Benz Sprinter Custom

• Goal Zero solar panels and generators
• Polk Audio surround sound
• Rigid Industries LED light bar (50-inch)
• Thule roof box
• All-terrain tires
• Swivel passenger chair
• Custom interior for camera gear storage
• Custom roof rack and ladder
• Portable shower unit
• Convertable sofa bed