Over Skype, I ask, “Do you think of yourself as a technomad or a minimalist, in terms of the way you live?” Professional photographer Collin Hughes, who has worked with everyone from Nike to Wired, laughs and then responds, “Most definitely,” as he turns his laptop’s camera from his face towards four small duffle bags in a pile on the floor. “This is everything I own right now besides what’s in MakeSpace,” he says from off camera.
“Actually, this is quite a bit, because I’m back in my hometown. I’m essentially just here to drop off some stuff. Normally, I have a roller for gear and a duffle bag for miscellaneous things (those two are my carry-ons), and then one bag of clothes that I check every time,” he adds, turning the camera back towards his face.
The term “technomadism” refers to a rapidly growing class of artists and information professionals who are realizing that thanks to advances in technology, they can work remotely from anywhere in the world. These photographers, web developers, and designers are increasingly choosing to travel and work in the cloud, rather than settling down and paying rent on an apartment.
Hughes hasn’t always been a technomad. When the photographer moved to New York City three years ago, he had an apartment just like everybody else, but as work picked up, he found himself spending as little as one week a month in the city because he was always on location shooting.
“Last November my lease was up and I ended up just saying, ‘You know, I’m gonna be gone for two months anyway. I might as well wait to get an apartment until after that, and now it’s been seven months,” he explained.
Hughes’ decision not to renew his lease came just as he learned about MakeSpace. He knew right away that he’d found the solution for his adventuring lifestyle. “I was like, ‘I’ll just use that and move my stuff out and get it back when I need it.’ Makespace was the perfect problem solver.”
After seven months, Hughes has his technomadic lifestyle down to a science: “Whenever I know I’m going to be in New York in a couple weeks, I try to plan out where I’m going to go next. Then when I’m in the city, I request a MakeSpace delivery to get what I’ll need for that upcoming trip and to store whatever I won’t. I never keep boxes overnight. It’s just thirty minutes of unpacking and repacking. That’s it.”
Beyond that, Hughes has had to minimize aspects of his lifestyle. He explains, “I have to be very cognisant of what I pack and what I don’t. That’s true with my wardrobe especially — it’s funny, i’ve stripped down to three different colors. Now, I wear mostly blue, black, and gray. I can’t have a lot. I usually don’t shop. Sometimes I will, like if I need something new, but I can’t afford to take up too much space in my bag, so I’m much more organized. I know where everything is. I know how to pack it. I know where to put it.”
Living without a permanent address still presents challenges for Hughes; he regularly rents camera lenses from a mail-order service based in Canada, and without a mailing address, receiving them can be tricky.
With the launch of MakeSpace Air, the company’s new ‘storage-by-mail’ service, Hughes envisions using MakeSpace as his home address, a place where he can have things shipped and then delivered to him, along with the rest of his bins when he pops into New York City. “I would definitely use it as my permanent mailbox,” said Hughes, and we couldn’t be happier.