Red Bull Photography recently joined our community with a verified brand profile of their own. This partnership isn’t just about amazing photography — it’s also about amazing stories. Behind every shot on Red Bull Photography is a talented photographer, a wild story, and a few lessons learned. We’ll be telling those stories every week here on 500px ISO and the Red Bull Photography website.

Describing Corey Rich as ‘a photographer’ seems like a huge understatement. The California-based 40-year-old eats, lives and breathes photography, shooting video as well as stills and running a popular blog site in which he offers advice to up-and-coming photographers and those starting out as professionals. He’s also a Nikon ambassador, a Red Bull photographer and organizes photography workshops and training courses. It’s safe to say that image making is in absolutely every part of Corey’s life.

“At home we always have a Nikon DSLR and a prime lens sitting on the counter top in our kitchen, so we can take photos of our life: the kids, our dog, friends coming round for dinner, a beautiful sunrise. I don’t think I’ve ever shot as many pictures as I do at the moment,” he says.

That’s quite a statement from someone who also says that he earns 80 percent of his income not from photography, but videography: “You can use both stills photography and video to tell stories and move people. They work in different ways and both do something that the other cannot,” Corey says. “We are living in a time where you are empowered to use the same tool to capture both of these things. One minute I can be using a DSLR to shoot stills then I can flick a switch, hit the record button and capture movie footage instead. It’s like having a hammer and thinking ‘do I use the front end or the back end?’”

So which is the better medium for telling stories? “There is no clear winner. The power of the still photo is undeniable, but then so is the ability of a really good film with great composition, great sound and great production.

“One difference is that I tend to spend a lot of time by myself when shooting stills, but in the video world there are more people involved in the production, and there is something very satisfying about not travelling alone, and being able to share those experiences.”

David Lama climbing at Baatara Gorge, Lebannon. by Red Bull Photography on

In the beginning…

Corey got into photography through his love of climbing, and gradually learned to tell stories of his weekend adventures through his photography. “It’s important to have a really detailed understanding of a sport if that’s what you’re going to shoot,” he advises. “I knew I was never going to be a professional climber, but it’s in my soul and at the routes of my ambition as a human being. I love it not just for the physical act but for the culture that surrounds it too.

“I can hold my own and go on trips with professional athletes. I mean they have to wait for me, because you can’t be an elite athlete and an elite photographer at the same time – it’s impossible. But I know that the grounding in the sport helps me relate to the other activities I shoot.

“You’re working in this vertical world, hanging off ropes and dodging bits of falling ice – it’s a huge technical challenge to get to a location and get a picture that depends on so much else, like the weather etc. Then when you start to work in a different environment, where your feet are on the ground, you think to yourself: ‘Wow! I can put all my attention into the creative side of the shoot and less into the staying alive part.’ And that makes it all seem an awful lot easier.”

Corey was introduced to Red Bull through his long-time friend Christian Pondella, who also shoots climbing photography for the company. “Photoshoots back then had a very different feel,” he recalls. “There was no formula to it, and very few staff – we’d just turn up, put our heads together and try to figure out what was going on. Nowadays things are a bit more sophisticated than that, and it’s been neat to see Red Bull evolve into such a well-oiled media machine.”

The power of the blog

While most photographers make use of social media and blogging, Corey’s approach to on-line publishing is not so much a sideline project as a fully-fledged part of his business. His website features how-to video tutorials, advice for professionals and even a Q & A section where Corey takes time out of his busy schedule to answer questions from members of the public who want to be better photographers. It’s admirable – but what does he get out of it?

“I guess it’s just in me: I love helping other people who are passionate about photography too. Sharing information – that’s as satisfying as creating images in the first place,” Corey says. “My father used to be a teacher and I grew up seeing the passion he had for improving young people. At one time I thought I was going to be a teacher, and I had a lot of teachers who were incredible role models in my life, so I guess at the back of my head I’m still trying to become a school teacher myself,” he laughs.

Looking to the future

When it comes to technology, Corey is keen to look forward rather than back. On his blog he replies to a question about 35mm film with the answer ‘Don’t shoot film … stick to digital.’

“I think the mechanics of how we capture photos will change enormously over the next decade,” he predicts. “We will be pulling more still frames from video – the technology and the resolution is coming, you can see it. Of course there are limitations, and there will always be conventional cameras, but I think we’ll all be using video a lot more in the future.”

And his own future? Will Corey ever turn his back completely on the world of still photography?

“No,” he says emphatically. “It might not be what pays 80 percent of the bills at the moment, but that love of looking through a viewfinder and pressing a shutter-release button has not gone away.”

See the work of more Red Bull photographers in their profile on 500px.