Telling a story through the lens
In the modern photography world, Corey Rich said he took a common route: first an adventurer, second a photographer.
At 13, he started documenting his climbing adventures with a camera. He was working for a newspaper in a small town in the Mojave Desert by the time he graduated high school. He continued with journalism for many years, until he realized his passion lay in outdoor adventure.
The newspaper background had a big influence on his approach to outdoor photography.
“Hopefully what I’m doing in the climbing world, or the adventure world, is bringing a level of journalism that didn’t exist before,” he said. “What I know how to do is tell stories. I shoot a sequence of photos that actually have a beginning, middle and end.”
Although he has his fair share of rigging, planning and staging shots, he lives for the moments that present themselves. A classic example is a photo of a grimacing, bare-bummed surfer that showed up in a Patagonia ad.
A man lies on a table, his face hogging the foreground, contorted in pain as his naked bum gets punctured by a long needle. The surfer had a serious anaphylactic reaction to a jelly fish sting, but the only person in the town who could administer the shot was the cook at the local taqueria.
The ad reads: “Grin and Bear It. Yesterday, I was eating lunch on this same table. Now, the lady who cooked my meal is moonlighting as my nurse.” Rich captured the moment in all its hilarity.
“I like to think of myself as an historian. I capture the human spirit of adventure,” Rich says in an essay on his Web site, http://www.coreyography.com.
A backdrop of beautiful scenery with no human element has no appeal to this guy. It’s the opportunity to connect people with the place, adventure or culture – by showing someone engaging in it – that gets him going.
“That environment becomes more special to me when there is some human interaction with that environment,” he said. “It just helps put me in that place and it helps put most viewers in that place when you can actually see another human there. People live vicariously through that image.”