Corey Rich’s storytelling passion and keen eye—and a dose of good luck—have turned him into one of the most successful photographers in the outdoor industry. As a partner of the prolific Aurora stock agency, his business skill and savvy are almost as impressive as his imagery. Rich, 35, has a down-to-earth persona that belies his success. He has genuine psych for new and upcoming photographers, and his sage, no-bullshit advice breathes fresh life into a rugged industry.
I was born in the Antelope Valley, in the Mojave Desert, and spent my entire life in the same home until I left for college.
I grew up as a gymnast. I loved the workouts, and I loved what I was pushing my body to do mentally and physically, but as I got more advanced, it just got damned scary.
My first climb in Yosemite was a failed attempt at the Nose. Myself and two buddies from Missoula, Montana, decided we were going to give it a whack, and we got spanked. We just had no idea what we were getting into.
It’s probably safe to say that I’ve done more jumaring in Yosemite than actually rock climbing.
There are game-changing images in any photographer’s career, and for me the one that had the largest impact was an image of my college dorm mate, Tom Buelo, on a surf trip gone bad. Tom’s getting a shot in his ass with the surf trunks pulled down. It was an ad for Patagonia, and ran full-page in Outside magazine. It was in the middle of the dot-com boom, and there was an executive from a company called Quokka Sports, flying home from Europe, and he saw this ad in Outside…
I have shot a lot on Mescalito. Tommy [Caldwell] happens to be one of my best friends, and in some funny way, being on Mescalito is just an excuse for us to hang out.
How many days a year do I travel and shoot? I think the maximum was right up around 280 or 300, but that was when I was single and living out of a car.
I’m not one of these guys who’s a romantic about fi lm. I love telling stories. If there are two different camps—the storyteller/journalists, and then the artists—I’m a journalist.
I don’t care if it’s an iPhone or the most high-end dSLR—it still comes down to how the person operating that tool uses their head.
It’s really simple: There’s a shortage of great photography. Anyone that tells you differently is just flat-out wrong.