The 5TH : Corey Wilson – Releasing October 5.
Corey is a modern-day adventurer; either in the water or on the move. He is an incredible surf and water photographer and is responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring imagery and content creation of our generation. We spent 5-minutes with Corey to find out what makes him tick.
– Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Santa Cruz, up around northern California. It was an absolute blessing being able to spend my youth up there, being around the beach and living in such a beautiful town is what got me into viewing life as a holiday. After High School I went and applied (and got into) Brooks Photography Institute down in Santa Barbara and graduated with a bachelors degree in photography.
– What drew you to photography?
I’d say it’s a mix of my parents influence, my curiosity around creating a point in time and then also the memories that photography has for people. Photography is such an incredible medium, it has ways to tell stories, to remember certain moments and create points in time for people to look back on.
When I look at my catalog of images I get so many flashbacks – the traveling that led up to that moments, the random memories about the subject of the photos, funny moments that happened on the trip. Being a photographer is an amazing career and every day I’m thankful that I get to travel the world, meet people and explore what’s out there.
– First camera? Current Camera?
My first camera was thanks to my parents (thanks!!), it was a Nikon film camera. And funnily enough, I’m still using Nikon cameras today with my current setup being a Nikon D5 with 24-70mm.
– You shoot some of what I think is the most incredible shots on the planet. What are three quick tips around learning to be a better photographer you can share with our 5th Fam?
Thanks! I’m always up for sharing tips/pointers where I can 🙂
1 – Get a solid understanding of how light works. Shadows, exposure, golden hour, etc.
2 – Shoot every day. Even if it’s with your phone, a disposable or a quality set up…The more you shoot the better you’ll get.
3 – Shoot with film when you can, you’ll learn real quick cause film is expensive haha
– What’s your favorite location you’ve traveled to?
The world is too big and full of too many amazing places to name one. For me, Japan is amazing for snowboarding but Tahiti has my favourite wave. Ireland has the best bars and Portugal has fantastic food, South Africa for wildlife and Alaska is deadset the most beautiful place I’ve been to. I could go on and on, ha, but each place I’ve traveled to has something amazing about it.
– What’s a couple of travel hacks you use that our 5th fam could use on their next adventure?
1 – Use jet lag to your advantage. Get up early, explore and get the shots others might not.
2 – Check in early. The airport crew is always in a better mood when the shift starts and are more likely to let you slip thru extra weight, etc…
3 – Be nice and be open to new opportunities. Some of the most fun things I’ve done have happened because I’ve chatted to people, gone on trips when maybe I shouldn’t have, etc. Always just go ha.
– What’s been the most eye-opening place you’ve visited from a cultural standpoint?
Alaska. It’s still so raw, untouched and beautiful, plus the people there are amazingly warm and welcoming. Overall the place just shows you how amazing our planet is and that we need to look after it to preserve places like Alaska.
– Tell us about some of the most amazing things you’ve seen in the water. People and creatures?
To be honest, this just comes down to one moment for me and it’s not entirely in the ocean but it’s based around the ocean…
It was taken last year of Owen Wright and his family. In 2015 Owen had a terrible injury. In Hawaii during a surf at Pipeline Owen suffered a severe concussion and had minor bleeding of the brain. He had no clue that he was injured until he took a nap. I found him in his room pretty much unconscious. He spent weeks in the hospital and a lot of time at home treating his injury. Owen had to take an entire year off, slowly getting back into the water. While this was happening his girlfriend at the time was pregnant with Owen’s kid. Owen returned to competitive surfing in 2017 and won the first comp of the year. The entire surf industry was in tears of happiness. My favorite moment I have ever captured is when Owen and his family were on the stage after he won the comp (see below).
– The question on so many peoples mind, when they see your shots of ‘sharks’ in the water is: how many times has this happened before? Is it a frequent thing? Do you get scared?
A few, but I’m generally swimming with more placid sharks. Not like I’m outside a cage in south africa after they’ve chummed up the waters ha. Having said that, even swimming with more placid sharks is still scary and I’m always trying to stay focused on my surroundings.
– What’s your perfect day look like?
To be honest, every day is pretty damn perfect for me. I live a blessed life and am grateful for it every day…
– For those like you, who have a dream which is off the beaten path, what advice would you give to them in attaining their dreams?
Just go for it. It’s a cliche statement – you only live once – but it’s true and as a motivator, it’s pretty good. Look at it this way, someone is going to be doing what you want to do, so it may as well be you right? Back yourself, get out there and experience the world!
– You’ve collaborated with several brands previously, Slowtide, Tavik, and even Mick Fanning. What’re the biggest things you’ve learned about the collaborative process? And what have been the highlight projects so far?
Work with brands you admire, product you dig or people you enjoy working with. One of the best projects I’ve recently done was working with one of my best mates (Mick), the entire process was so much fun which in turn didn’t make it feel like work at all.