By now, you've heard all about Cory Richards and his film Cold, which won big awards at Banff Mountain Film, Telluride Mountainfilm, and a handful of other festivals. What you may not have heard is that Cory Richards got his start in fashion photography, and that he used what he learned shooting models to shoot a personal project on the people of Nepal and Tibet. He calls it his "Facial Landscapes" project. We asked him about his portrait series in the interview below. Click here to see a gallery.
Since you’ve talked about Cold a lot we’re going to skip that and go directly to your other work.
Yeah. I am so happy about that. You have no idea.
I love your facial landscapes project. How did those images come about?
It’s funny because all that comes from, believe it or not, a commercial fashion background. I worked in commercial fashion on these shoots that were super scripted and organized. You come out, you go into a motor home in the morning, you talk to the models, you talk to the photographer (back then I was the assistant), and then you go and execute the shoot—trying to sort of play off people’s insecurities. To me the whole project stems from the idea that there’s so much more inherent beauty that we don’t really look at all the time, and one of the places you often see that is in the elderly. They have this massive amount of life experience and in our modern culture we remove all the wrinkles and don’t like looking at them. For me, having looked at so many faces that were kind of polished with make up and all this shit, I was like, there’s something more real about this beauty. That’s where it came from. I went to Nepal and Tibet and just started looking for the people who had worked the hardest, who had lived the most, and then I just applied very simple commercial fashion lighting to the shoots and it turned out beautifully. I’m like, “Oh god, I can like count his whiskers,” which is not necessarily a bad thing. You can get into it with the person. The other thing about the project is that I kind of wanted to celebrate the people who climbing success was built on—sherpas and the local people that support and provide the infrastructure.