Go Big: A U.S. Travel Nomad Connects a Country Through Photography

Even when stuck at home, some people took the bold step to start something new: today, discover the story behind Reintroducing America and its founder, Jasmin Shah

The truth is, trivago couldn’t help everyone go someplace new in 2020. So instead, we’re celebrating the people that turned challenge into opportunity by starting new businesses, pursuits, and passions. When they couldn’t go far, they chose to go big.

Jasmin lives on the road with her three companions: a van, a camera, and the people she meets on the way. After working for various organizations as a freelance photographer for over 20 years, she saw everything slip through her fingers in March 2020, when the pandemic cut short a project in Morocco and forced her to return to the U.S. Stuck at home with no jobs and no ideas, Jasmin decided to go big.

The interviewee

Born in Wisconsin, Jasmin Shah sees her camera as a superpower - a tool to connect with others. Living as a nomadic freelance photographer since 2019, she tells small stories of people that she meets on the road on her Instagram. Entitled Reintroducing America, it’s a project with no gender, race or religion.
Jasmin Shah on Instagram

The initial investment

Initially, launching the project wasn’t easy. She invested all her retirement money to transform a van into her home — all during a time of uncertainty and fear, when no investment seemed like a safe one. Although she hopes to get sponsorships in the future, she “doesn’t want to make money, but rather come out even.” The plan is to re-evaluate the project in August 2021, and if things go well, to explore stories in other locations like South America. In any case, her passion to bring this to life is absolute:

“I’ve never felt so strong about a project before. When I want to do something, I just know that not doing it is worse. You can sit and be sad in one place or you can work on your big passion and do something.”

“I’ve driven 10,000 miles so far since August 2020, so I’ve done a lot of the Western US. Everyone wants to talk and, most of the times, I’m driving and I just pull-off and reach out to people (with safe distances and masks) – I’m normally afraid of taking their time but, in the end, I see that people talk a lot more than I expect during the pandemic. They’re more starved to exchange,” she says.

Jasmin Shah is a brave example and an inspiring story in a year that desperately needs them. With a camera and a strong desire to bond with others, she connects people that have never met before.

“You know when you are in a party and you meet someone with whom you have this really great conversation? Then, your friend comes, joins this talk and you tell them: ‘Let me introduce you to this person – we have a lot in common’. Basically, my audience for the project is that friend that walks up.”

“Before ending our talk, Jasmin encouraged others to pursue their dreams and projects: “I’m single, I don’t own anything, so if things go bad, it’s just me. That makes it a bit easier for me, but I just don’t want to look back and see that I didn’t try. So, I feel that people should, if they can, try and see how that feels. You really never know until you go for it.”

Simple yet inspiring advice, with both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Inspired by Jasmin’s story? Keep an eye on our channels for other interviews in our Go Big series!