Corey Rich

Gripped - - CONTENTS -

The same year that a com­pany called Netscape com­mer­cial­ized some­thing called a browser, Corey Rich re­moved the pas­sen­ger seat of a beat-up Honda Civic and hit the road, hop­ing to climb as much as pos­si­ble and to cap­ture it on film. He was sev­eral cour­ses away from com­plet­ing a col­lege de­gree, but he’d served as a pho­tog­ra­pher of the lo­cal news­pa­per. As a young man, he was equally cap­ti­vated by pho­to­jour­nal­ism and ad­ven­ture sports, es­pe­cially climb­ing. Although (then) not nat­u­rally out­go­ing, he had a knack of con­nect­ing with climb­ing part­ners that were. The will­ing­ness to live the sto­ries he wanted to tell through photograph­y got him some early mag­a­zine cov­ers and Patag­o­nia ads. Th­ese, in turn, led to more pro­fes­sional work for span­ning me­dia, tourism, ap­parel and gear mak­ers.

At their best, images tell sto­ries. In the con­text of climb­ing, th­ese might be about vir­tu­os­ity, courage, or sim­ply get­ting in over your head. Th­ese are the images that shake us loose from our moor­ings. (They might also sell climb­ing gear.) With each im­age, Rich tells us about the tech­ni­cal as­pects of the photograph­y/videog­ra­phy, in­ter­est­ing in their own right, along with a nar­ra­tive of how the im­age came to be. At the heart of this is the jour­nal­is­tic/artis­tic de­mand to cap­ture the essence of a story, but not be the story. To do this high up the Salathe head­wall is, un­ques­tion­ably, high art.

Rich con­stantly asks the ques­tion: what makes this im­age com­pelling? Has the story it’s telling been told be­fore? Does it chal­lenge our as­sump­tions about the sport? Does it make us think dif­fer­ently, about climb­ing, about the na­ture of ex­pe­ri­ence? There are also the very real com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions that form the back­bone of a life in ad­ven­ture pho­to­graph that are brought into fo­cus, so to speak.—tom Valis

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