In 1973, Roger's mother dies. Immediately after that, he leaves New York and goes to travel the world. He was 23 years old. After spending a year and a half in South Africa, he returned to the United States in 1977. Roger finished his first photography book "Boyhood", which contains images of boys from different countries. As Ballen himself says, this book was dedicated to his own childhood.
In 1981, he received his doctorate in geology and returned to South Africa, where he worked as a geologist for the next 30 years. His professional activity was searching for minerals, gold and platinum. In that search of ore deposits, the Ballen traveled more than 100,000 kilometers! Thanks to his work, he was able to see the life of Africa from the inside.