Have you ever met someone and just felt an instant connection to their work?

On Instagram even, from just seeing a few photos. You feel something. You connect on a visceral level – similar to art. For me that was Austin. When I look at his photos, I see his soul – it feels like I’m reading his diary. It’s personal. It moves me. I get it.

I found Austin Mullen on Instagram. His photography was amazing. Down to earth, approachable, sophisticated, stylish, deep. Not because it was of some guy shredding on Teahupo’o, actually it was the opposite. Relatable. Like I could do that myself. Just surfers. Peaceful, having fun, living salty. Sometimes his pics even seem like I’m peering in on someone’s private moment with a wave.

Renaissance man

Austin and I exchanged a few DM’s which led to an email which led to me picking up a stockpile of his photos to use for the website. I wasn’t sure what I wanted until I saw his work. Once I saw it, that was it – I knew I wanted to use it for Over Winter.

This guy loves the surf. The ocean. The lifestyle. The photography. He lives it, travels the world to capture it on film, writes a little bit about it – and some other stuff – he’s a renaissance man. I relate to him a lot on that last one.

Quick story

Last winter, I got a text from him. “We’re coming up to San Francisco, there’s a swell – let’s meet up”. He was here for a couple days, but I was tied up at work and we never connected. I texted him the last day he was here – no answer. Damn, must have missed him for sure. The next day I got a text. It was this photo of Ocean Beach

ocean beach san francisco man surfing wave

…whaaat, now wonder you didn’t text back, I wouldn’t have either – he was catching waves – on his board and his camera. If you’re not familiar with Ocean Beach, big clean waves like the one in the photo are not common – except maybe in January. I couldn’t believe the pic – because it was OB and it never looks like that – because the pic was damn amazing – and because that fucker doesn’t even live here and was here for two days and got those waves.

Ok, second quick story

I tortured myself over what photo to use in the main header of the website – that first thing you see when you come to the site. What will match the brand, tell a story, let people know what we’re all about in one shot? I came across the current photo – also at the top of this post. I studied it. Wondered about it. It was complex, sleek, dramatic and even a little dark compared to some of his other work. I shot him a note – hey man, what’s the story on this pic…?  

“Ahhh man, well that was the swell of the fall. A combo swell that’s extremely rare, and it was combined with Santa Ana winds. That’s my local (secret) spot. It’s a spot that’s very very fickle. Needs the right tide, and swells from North and South to make it peaky like that. It was right as the sun was peaking up and lit up the tops of the wave. That is my most favorite photo and probably the best day of surf, and shooting I’ve ever seen down here. That set came through, and myself and my friend went nuts I shot it and we got ready as fast as possible to paddle out. It was amazing.”

See what I mean.

Austin Mullen

— END —

Leave Your Shore is a series of short stories, company news and inspiration written by the founder of Over Winter, Ryan Mathews. If you have comments or just want to say hey, you can use the form below or email support@overwinterco.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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