In September Travel Photographer Austin Mann traveled to Rwanda and Tanzania with Ker & Downey to test drive the new Apple iPhone 7/7 Plus. We caught up with Austin to chat about his trip with Ker & Downey and one of his favorite shots from the project.

Interview with Travel Photographer Austin Mann - Luxury Safaris - Ker Downey

This shot comes from Volcanoes National Park, where I found myself standing with a family of gorillas in the wild.

Our trackers were just around the corner and had indicated there were a bunch hanging out together ahead. I was walking toward them and just about to come around the bend when I looked to my right and saw this gorilla only three feet from me, just chewing on some bamboo.

We both froze, eyes locked for a few moments. After a bit, she started chewing again and when she did, I lifted my iPhone 7 Plus and snapped this image before moving on. It became one of my favorite shots (and moments) from the project.

How often do you travel?

I’m on the road quite a bit… when I was traveling a ton, I moved to a new sleeping location 141 times in a year. Today, it’s not quite that much!

How long have you been a professional photographer?

About 10 years ago I started shooting and about eight years ago I graduated from Baylor University and began shooting full time.

Interview with Travel Photographer Austin Mann - Luxury Safaris - Ker Downey

How many iPhone reviews have you done?

I’ve now completed five iPhone reviews… first in Iceland, then Patagonia, then Iceland again, then Switzerland, and then most recently in Rwanda/Tanzania.

When you aren’t reviewing the latest iPhone, what gear do you normally travel with?

Honestly, I love working with the iPhone and it’s becoming my main equipment, but when I need to shoot super lowlight (like stars) I carry the Canon 1DX and love it!

What iPhone photography tips and tricks do you have for travelers?

Burst mode is a really powerful tool. To use it, just click and hold the shutter button… your iPhone will start shooting 10 frames per second. This is great when you are shooting wildlife, urban scenes, sports, or with any subject that is unpredictable.

Interview with Travel Photographer Austin Mann - Luxury Safaris - Ker Downey

Why did you choose Ker & Downey to book your safari to Rwanda and Tanzania?

I was drawn to Ker & Downey for a few reasons…. As I looked through the website, it was clear there was legacy to Ker & Downey, a company that had been around many years with deep experience. I also was drawn to the company’s core ethos of Giving Back. Life is about a lot more than our own experiences and Ker & Downey understands that and puts a lot of resources back into the communities they travel to… I love that.

Most thrilling part of your trip?

One of my favorite parts of our journey was the hot air balloon ride over the Great Migration… this was an incredible sight to see from any perspective but especially from above. The hot air balloon is essentially silent as it drifts through the air which makes for a super surreal experience.

Something you’ll always remember?

Watching the hippo emerge out of the water, somewhat angry all the wildebeests were crossing the river and in his territory. The convergence of so much wildlife at the river crossings was fascinating to watch.

iPhone 7 Review - Austin Mann - Luxury Tanzania Safari - Ker Downey

What Ker & Downey detail were you most impressed with?

Working with Ker & Downey has been really incredible. As a professional photographer, I have extremely demanding needs revolving around the light and time of day… I had mentioned to the Ker & Downey team that I wanted to be a certain place by sunset for a time-lapse and requested the driver take us in the afternoon.

However, they learned the speed limit had been changed on this remote Rwandan road and realized I couldn’t be there by sunset if I traveled by road… so they arranged a private boat ride to get my to the hotel on time, just in time to set up my time-lapse and shoot over the lake at sunset.

This kind of attention to detail and proactive thinking on my behalf is invaluable and incredibly tough to find.

What trips are still on your bucket list?

#1 Antarctica!  

This is my last continent to visit and has been on my list for a very long time. It looks stunning… full of beautiful ice sculptures and radically different wildlife.  

Interview with Travel Photographer Austin Mann - Luxury Safaris - Ker Downey

Are you thinking about purchasing an iPhone 7/7 Plus? Be sure to read Austin’s full review.

Austin’s work has been widely published in both corporate and non-profit worlds, from National Geographic and the Travel Channel, to Samaritan’s Purse and the Global Poverty Project. His wide range of experience has enabled him to organize and teach workshops worldwide on how to leverage photography and storytelling to dignify people, build communities, and promote change.

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