Frequently asked questions with outdoor/adventure photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich
Who or what got you interested in photography?
I’ve always loved hearing and telling stories but when I was 13 years old, I was introduced to the outdoors and fell in love with rock climbing. I started to bring my camera along to capture my weekend adventures. I realized it was hard to create compelling photographs, but that photography held this incredible potential to tell stories in a visual way. As I began to combine my passion for adventure and photography, my focus shifted from just being outdoors to making compelling photos of my weekend adventures that told great stories.
How old are you now?
I was born December 2, 1975.
Where did you start your photography?
I first studied photography during my freshman year at Quartz Hill High School, in Leona Valley, California, where I grew up. Soon, I was taking classes at a community college, Antelope Valley College, California, while reading everything I could about photography.
What type of photography did you start to shoot?
I began by trying to document my weekend adventures and quickly realized that making compelling storytelling images was not easy. I soon focused on photojournalism and mainstream sports.
What type of photography do you shoot now?
Outdoor adventure, outdoor lifestyle and travel photography and tons of video storytelling.
Do you travel for work?
My assignments take me all over the place both in the United States and out of the country. On average I am out of the office over 250 days.
Where have you been on assignment?
Mongolia, Pakistan, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, Malaysia, Indonesia, Peru, Vietnam, Thailand, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Fiji, China, Brazil, Poland, Malta, Italy, England, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa, and all 50 States.
What has been your most exciting assignment?
There is no single “most” exciting assignment, and all hold a special place in my memory. The key to doing this job is being in the moment, creating memories associated with each and every project. The beauty is enjoying the place, the people and somehow capturing it in still images and motion footage.
Where can I read about your travels and assignments?
Currently I am working on a reflective writing and photography project called “Story Behind the Image,” in which I choose a photo that I’ve taken and talk about the context, situation and characters in which it was shot. It’s part technical, part philosophy, and all storytelling. Each week I post a new Story Behind the Image to my Facebook page.
Have you ever had a near-death experience?
A few good tales in this video: Conversations on Adventure with Corey Rich
Also a fun multimedia project: The Dirt Bag Diaries
Where do you want to go on assignment and have not been yet?
One day I would like to do a Mt. Everest trip, but I am in no rush. This is something I will do later in life.
Where can I find more info about you?
The best place to start is by going to my web site (www.coreyrich.com) and look at all the photos, watch the videos, and then go to the “”ABOUT” section and read my bio. Also be sure to click on “BLOG” for all the latest news and educational information that I share.
More information is available in my first coffee-table photo book: My Favorite Place: Great Athletes in the Great Outdoors. At the end of each chapter in the book I wrote short essays about my philosophy, techniques and just funny tales from the field. You can buy the book on amazon.com.
Also, there are a few videos online that you may find interesting, detailing how I work:
HOW of WHY
SanDisk Extreme Team – Corey Rich
Vail Resorts: Origins of a Legend
Where can I find you on the web via social media?
What other types of photography have you shot?
I have a foundation in photojournalism. I worked for newspapers and shot news, sports, features and portraits. I worked for The Antelope Valley Press in my senior year in high school and then The Modesto Bee for nearly two years while in college at San Jose State University. After that, I dove head-first into the world of adventure photography and have never looked back!
What is your favorite thing to shoot?
I love to document adventures in wild places where I am photographing my friends and travel companions pushing the limits and exploring new places. Also I am most creative when I am a part of the adventure; a participant. The best adventures are when the outcomes are uncertain.
Do you do anything else for a living?
No. This is an all-consuming field to be in.
Do you have some pictures that I may include in my slide presentation?
You can refer to my website (www.coreyrich.com). This is for educational purposes only. Please contact my office or Aurora Photos for commercial use.
Do you ever teach workshops?
Are you married or do you have a family?
I am married to the love of my life, Marina Abreu Rich, who conveniently, is a very talented makeup & hair stylist and assistant. (www.marinarich.com). We have the great fortune of traveling and working a ton together with our daughter Leila. And have one dog, Preta, who is part of the family and joins us for most of our California adventures.
Do you have a favorite food / drink?
Burrito with a Pacifico w/ lime.
Do you have a favorite quote?
Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody is watching.
What is a general salary for a photographer in your specific field?
Don’t get into photography because you are looking to be rich. Photography can be very expensive and the payout can be relatively minimal. If you want to make money, don’t become an artist. Photography, albeit a business, is at heart a form of art. Therefore photography needs to be a labor of love, a passion. In time, if you are talented, motivated and a good person, you might be able to make a living doing it.
How do you price your photography?
In the past we used FotoQuote (http://www.fotoquote.com/) and we reference Jim Pickerell’s “Negotiating Stock Photo Pricing” book (phone 301-251-0720). But we no longer sell stock images out of my office. All of my stock sales go through Aurora Photos (www.auroraphotos.com).
Do you work for yourself?
My assignment photography and directing/DP work is handled out of my office in South Lake Tahoe, California: Corey Rich Productions, LLC (coreyrich.com) in Lake Tahoe, California, and I am with Tectonic Media Group in NYC (tectonicmg.com). My stock photography is sold by my stock agency: Aurora Photos (auroraphotos.com) in Portland, Maine.
Do you have any employees?
I have three full time employees in Tahoe. Josh Marianelli is my Studio Director and Producer. Kristin Barry is my Social Media Manager and Production Coordinator. Bligh Gillies is my Assistant and Editor/Re-Toucher. Also, as the Vice President / Principal at Aurora Photos & Novus Select, I am partially responsible for our entire staff of 10 employees in Portland, Maine, and New York City.
How do I start my own career in photography?
The key is to just get out and shoot pictures ALL the time! All the schooling in the world does not make up for real life experience. One thing that you should really focus on is getting internships and assisting. The best thing you could do is start applying for newspaper internships. Do several of them if you can, and try and get into a position with a big paper. Internships are great because you get paid to go out and shoot every day, on deadline and a variety of assignments. But first you need to get out on your own and develop your portfolio.
Talk to your teachers, they know a ton! You have got to take advantage of the situation. In short, like so many things in life, school is what you make of it. If you push yourself and show your teachers that you are passionate about photography you will learn and succeed. The first step, always, is you have to go out and make it happen!
Take advantage of all of the online courses available to you today. creativeLIVE is a great example. Also workshops can be great growth opportunity: check out the Summit Series of Photography Workshops.
How do I break into the adventure photography market?
Simple. Go on adventures and shoot great pictures! It is that easy. If you are making great photos you will have no problem finding a home for them. Every industry is always looking for great photography and video content. Believe it or not, great content (pictures, video, writing) is in short supply. You need to prove to magazine editors that you can do it and that you are motivated. Get used to hearing the words, “On Spec.” At first you need to make it happen on your own. That is to say no one is going to pay you to make cool pictures on assignment straight out of the gate. After proving yourself, then you might expect to receive assignment work if you are easy to deal with as a person and a solid photographer / filmmaker. But at the beginning you need to fund your own shoots and rely on the stock sales. It can be a long road.
The other advice that I like to give is to shoot subject matter that you know and love. One key to success in photography is to know your subject and your market.
How did you gain the most exposure business-wise early in your career?
The best way to gain exposure is by getting published in national magazines and newspapers (big newspapers) and websites. Start building a social-media presence for yourself. The more editors and people in general who see your work, the more they will begin to recognize you as a player in the photography/video industry.
Another opportunity that is worth exploring is applying for an internship at Aurora Photos / Novus Select in Portland, Maine. This is an excellent opportunity to get first hand experience working with some of the world’s top adventure, travel, commercial and documentary photographers. To apply please send an email and resume to Karl Schatz: [email protected]
How do you market yourself?
Getting published as often as possible is the best marketing in the world. I also have a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Instagram account. We take social media very seriously as it is an amazing way to communicate with potential clients. We occasionally ship direct-mail cards and do html email on a monthly basis.
Do you have an agent?
Does your business function mostly through sales of stock or advertising and editorial assignments?
My income is usually 10% stock sales and 90% assignment work (both still and video).
PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR & TECH
What was your first camera?
My father’s Pentax K-1000. But I always say, it’s really not about the camera. It’s about what you see through the camera.
What type of camera do you use now?
I’m a Nikon USA Ambassador. At the moment I am using the following bodies: Nikon D600, Nikon D800, Nikon D4 and Nikon 1 V3 and J2.
What type of lenses do you have and prefer to use?
I prefer these three Nikkor lenses: the 16-35mm f/4, the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 50mm f/1.4. The rest of my lenses are extras. Look at the “Gear List” section of my blog to see a more extensive list of the gear that i use.
What type of 35mm film is best to shoot?
DON’T SHOOT FILM! When I did shoot film I loved Fuji Provia and Velvia, but film is a thing of the past. Stick to digital. Most magazines won’t even accept slide submissions anymore. Besides, digital looks better and is better for the environment!
What brand of flash cards do you use?
SanDisk. All of my cards are SanDisk Extreme Pro and I shoot both CF and SD. It’s worth mentioning that I am incidentally a member of the SanDisk Extreme Team. But to be clear I use SanDisk and agreed to be on the team because they make the best cards in the world and they are willing to stand behind their brand. When I select any product or tool that I am going to use I want a product that is reliable and proven.
Do you use solar equipment to charge gear and if so what brand?
Most of the time these days I do not use solar equipment as the batteries for cameras are getting very good. I would rather carry extra batteries. But for long trips I do have several Goal Zero Systems:. Also if weight is not an issue we will just bring a small generator. This way rain or shine we have power.
What brand of camera bags do you use?
Lowepro. My favorite bag is the Lowepro Flipside Sport 20L
See gear list tab on our blog for more details on exact gear.
What brand of water housing do you use?
For surf and splash I use AquaTech
What brand of continuous lights do you use for video?
What brand of tripods / stands / camera mounts, etc. do you use?