Corey Rich is one of the world's most recognized adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer. His photos have appeared in National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Sports Illustrated and The New York Times Magazine among others. Recently Corey answered a few questions for us, read below for more information.
How long have you been a professional photographer?
I started taking pictures when I was 13 years old and instantly fell in love with it. By the time I was 16, I had a work permit and a driver’s license, and I started shooting for our local newspaper, so I guess you could say I’ve been a professional photographer ever since. I’m 37 years old now, so I’ve been doing it for a long time!
What type of photography do you specialize in?
I specialize in still and motion storytelling, and try to apply those skills to a wide spectrum that runs from strict photojournalism/editorial to advertising campaigns for some of today’s biggest and best companies. My passion is being outdoors in adventurous environments, but today a lot of my work involves storytelling in the high-end advertising and commercial world.
What is your favorite subject to photograph?
Around the time I started taking pictures at age 13, I also started learning how to rock climb. In some ways, those two passions are permanently intertwined for me. I love climbing just as much as I love telling climbing stories from around the world with my camera. Travel, climbing, adventure and photography are all related, and they all work together really well. I’m driven to seek out the wildest places on the planet, have adventures with my friends, and then be able to share those stories with folks back home through still and moving pictures.
Have you ever been stuck on a shoot without a piece of equipment that you didn’t have with you? If so, how did you manage without it?
Funny you ask. … The story of my life is actually being stuck in wild and remote locations with the wrong equipment! So my middle name is “improvisation.” Because I live in a mountain town, in South Lake Tahoe, California, and because I am always traveling to far-flung locations on assignment, the reality is that I can’t easily rent equipment; I have to own the gear I use, which I need to pull off a shoot with the professional look that my clients expect. And of course, when you’re on a glacier in the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan, you can’t just order up that special lens you’ve suddenly realized you needed. So I spend a lot of time thinking and planning my shoots through, in advance, step-by-step. I try to do my best to rationalize what I need— not going overboard, but also not leaving myself vulnerable to being woefully unprepared. It’s a balance and if you get it wrong, you better learn how to make the most with what you got! Finally, there’s the best part: filling up your online shopping cart at Adorama.com with a ton of sweet new stuff and clicking “Checkout.” It’s my one-stop shopping hub.
What specific equipment would you never leave home without (and briefly, why)?
The reality today is that you can do a lot with a single HD-SLR camera and a couple of lenses. With that you can capture still, motion and come away with super high-quality files that could be used almost everywhere. About 90 percent of what I shoot is with either a Nikon D4 or Nikon D800 and a few lenses. You can check out my complete gear list.
How do you decide when it’s time to purchase a specific piece of equipment?
I’m a believer in always having what you need. Due to the remote locations of my work, I often double up on crucial items such as cables, cords and filters. But to answer the question, I’m a professional photographer, so equipment purchases are how I invest in my business. As soon as I realize that a piece of equipment can up my game, I’ll buy it. Of course if I realize it’s not working for me, I sell it immediately.
What factors are important to you personally when you consider buying equipment?
I have a really simple rule. My clients expect me to produce the highest quality content; therefore, I only buy the highest quality equipment. Period. Price becomes a non-factor. I’m expected to perform at the highest level and so I choose the equipment that’s going to allow me to do just that.
What’s the best piece of gear you’ve ever bought?
You know I joke that every time I get a new camera, the latest and greatest HD-SLR, I end up catching myself saying to someone in my office, “This is the greatest camera of all time! It’s totally game-changing. It allows me to perform at such a high level - it can never get better than this!” And then sure enough, a year or two later, Nikon rolls out a new camera that once again changes the game and has me raving about it to everyone in the office. Technology has improved, but still it’s only beneficial if you use it artistically. The best cameras enable me to focus more of my energy on creativity and less on solving technical problems.
Go Back to Corey's Favorite Gear List