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Cory Richards on Pushing Through the Struggle

“There’s incredible amounts of raw human and natural beauty happening everywhere.” —Cory Richards 

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A expedition team member stops to rest in a blizzard, bandages covering patches of frostbite.

For Cory Richards, photography and mountain climbing were ways to express his personal struggles. He dropped out of high school and went on to push himself both physically and artistically in these arenas. Richards has had his share of adventures along the way. At age 29, he became the first American to successfully summit an 8,000-meter peak in winter, and almost died in the process. His fearless photographs helped him receive the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Award in 2011.

During his expeditions, Richards attempts to capture a landscape others have rarely seen. “We’ve all seen the triumphant, symphony on the summit, arm raised [images],” he says. Richards strives to communicate a more balanced perspective with his photographs. For him, it’s all about making the audience feel something. —Kathryn Carlson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

 View more of Cory Richards’ work on his website.

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Cory Richards
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Kathryn Carlson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM

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