Have a conversation with Austin Mann, and one theme is sure to emerge – his commitment to impactful living. The 31-year-old travel photographer’s life is built around creating impact, in both his professional endeavors and everyday life. Recently, Austin decided the best way to actualize and share his life creed with others was to invest in an Airstream® Basecamp. And he can’t wait to see where it takes him.
Austin has been capturing life from behind the lens since 2005. His work has taken him all over the globe. Much of Austin’s early work with humanitarian and nonprofit organizations took him to places across Africa and Asia.
“I really love this lifestyle. It has directed a big part of the way I think about life and material goods and what’s worth valuing and what's not.”
With so much time devoted to traveling for his work, the idea of keeping a brick-and-mortar home started to make less sense to Austin.
Looking at his life at the time, Austin felt that he wasn’t leading as meaningful a life as he wanted. “I felt that I’d been given great resources in terms of time and talent, and also money, and I wasn’t using my resources in a way that was impactful. I was paying for the comfort of a home, but it felt like I was doing it because it’s what everybody else does. That didn’t mean it was the right decision.”
So, Austin did something different. In 2011, Austin let go of his house and began living a nomadic lifestyle that was more suited to his profession and life vision.
The change proved liberating and exhilarating. “I really love this lifestyle,” says Austin. “It’s directed a big part of the way I think about life and material goods and what’s worth valuing and what’s not.”
Austin’s life is now more focused on people and experiences.
“I’ve known for a long time that life is about relationships, but I know that now more than anything, because I have very, very little stuff. Outside of some large pieces of camera equipment, I can fit everything I own in my tiny little two-door coupe and Basecamp. Relationships and shared experiences are what matter most.”
Turning to a more nomadic existence has given Austin an amazing opportunity to impact the lives of others. Using the money he saved on rent and some other investments, Austin started a shared studio called WELD in Dallas. Austin remembers those early days of his vision for WELD, he says he wanted “a place where people could come together, create together, and build bigger, better dreams together instead of alone.”
Austin, who has since opened a second WELD in Nashville, has never second-guessed his decision. “It was the choice between material comforts or something that could have an infinite impact on people’s lives and souls,” he says.
Austin describes his life’s mission as leveraging photography and storytelling to dignify people, build communities and promote change. He strives to capture cultural differences by merging story and image to bridge the gap between the developed world and the developing world.
While Austin thrives in the collaborative environment at WELD, he began to feel that something was missing. He realized that he didn’t have a place of his own that would allow him to deeply focus on his own work.
“I just want a place where I can kind of get away from everything and focus on my work,” he says.
So, this past May, Austin got his first Airstream, a 2017 Basecamp.
“I felt like that was right for me. It’s got tons of USB ports and power. It’s got the right fit for everything that I need in terms of a mobile workspace. I plan to use it even on day-to-day work stuff, just to be able to get away from everything at the studio and get some really great, deep work done.”
And the Basecamp’s design fits this travel photographer’s lifestyle and his heart. “I love the panoramic windows. You can see so well.” Austin continues, “If you’re going to be out there, you want to be seeing and experiencing it. It’s not totally encapsulating you from experiencing the wilderness when you’re inside. You’re experiencing this world, not being insulating from it.”
Ask this new Airstreamer what he’s looking forward to most about living out of his Basecamp, and again his impactful nature shines though. “I can’t wait to be completely uninterrupted for long periods of time to really get into writing or ideation. I felt like the Basecamp was targeted towards me because of its versatile design, tech savvy features and smaller size — it forces me to live as streamlined as possible.”