The omens for Cory Richards becoming a world-class photographer did not look good. He dropped out of school as a teenager and was for a time homeless. But at the age of 18, he picked up his mother’s Ricoh point-and-shoot camera, and discovered his passion. Today, he is one of the most sought-after adventure and mountaineering photographers, with a string of awards under his belt, including the 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. For the November 2017 issue of National Geographic, he traveled the world in search of the happiest people on earth.
The human family in all its different manifestations inspires me. Through photography I hope to help people understand that we are all the same.
As a climber, much of Cory’s work has been the product of expeditions to the greater reaches of the earth, and he has carved a niche as one of the leading adventure and expedition photographers. His camera has taken him to wild and remote corners, from Antarctica’s unclimbed peaks to the Himalayas, where he made the first winter ascent of 8,000-meter Gasherbrum II, nearly dying in an avalanche. Other adventures include the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar—the highest peak in Southeast Asia—all in the attempt to capture not only the soul of adventure and exploration, but also the beauty inherent in our modern society. “I’m best known for adventure photography but that has always just been a vehicle for me,” he says. “It’s the photography and the images that surround the adventures, the immersive experience of culture that makes those adventures worth something.”
As an inspirational speaker Cory has been featured at The World Economic Forum and South by Southwest. TV appearances include The Charlie Rose Show, CBS This Morning and The Weather Channel.
Cory lives in Boulder, Colorado.