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Are Great Images Killing Skiing? The Legend, Corey Rich, Responds

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Following up on last week’s theme on content marketing, I decided to jump right into a very related, very important field: marketing photography. Why it works, how to do it better, and the future of this medium are under the lens all week long.

Corey Rich is an amazing photographer. And by amazing, I really do mean amazing. Here’s a quick overview of his story:

Now, I’ve had some big questions about content. Namely, I’ve wondered if our best content is actually killing skiing and ruining unique experiences. So, like the curious fellow I am, I asked. Corey, despite a crazy busy schedule and his firstborn due any day, was kind enough to get back with his thoughts.

Gregg: I recently heard that more photos have been taken in the last couple years than all of human history prior. What do you think having so many photos being taken and available mean for the memories people create in the outdoors going forward? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Corey: I think the overarching reality is as technology improves and our collective ability to make better pictures easily – whether that’s from a mobile device or mirrorless camera or a mobile device or a point and shoot or a DSLR – the net effect for photographers as well as consumers of imagery is that we do a better job capturing the world around us and it’s easier to do that and then I think we see that day to day as people use mobile devices and Instagram and Facebook the level of photography is quite remarkable I mean I see amazing pictures from non photographers constantly.

But i think the result of the technology being so readily available that I think at the highest level, the positive effect is that it raises the bar for the dedicated creative people like myself meaning if I looked at my work today versus 10 years ago or 20 years ago my work is significantly better and it’s not because I’ve become necessarily more creative, but it’s because I’m able to focus more of my energy and time on being creative and less of my time on trying to just technically manipulate a camera. because these cameras are so much more sophisticated, they’re so much more empowering and the playing field is so level at this point

So I guess my feeling is while there’s more photography than ever before, I mean exponentially more photography than ever before, one reality will always remain and that is great pictures are still few and far between. There’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of volume, but there’s a lot of garbage out there but because we have a society that’s embraced capturing moments with cameras, the technology has improved drastically and that allows still that top 5% or top 10% of image makers to do an even better job, they’re empowered they’re enabled by the technology.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we have great photography, maybe the one sad consequence might be over time, because we have so much volume of photography, is it difficult to actually find and decipher and identify those defining moments of our time? And I don’t mean that as the snowsports industry for example, but more individually, meaning when I grow up when I’m 60 or 70 and I’m looking back at pictures of my wife while she was pregnant is it that I’ve shot so many now that all of them are less meaningful? Or is it, as has been the case in history, that one or two or three surface to the top as the best, most meaningful defining moments of that phase or of that situation. And my guess will be it’s exactly that, that over time we realize there are those defining moments.

Gregg: On that note, the quality, quantity, and accessibility of amazing ski photos has gone off the charts in recent years thanks to technology. I often wonder, though, that with such quality we’re creating a culture of fans but not participants. Sort of like the guy that catches every NFL game on a 60″ flatscreen in HD but hasn’t played football in years. Do you believe we will ever reach a point that photo and video will be so good, so high fidelity, and so easy to access that people will start to become watchers of outdoor activities instead of doers of those sports?
Corey: I think the answer is absolutely no, the difference between watching an NFL football game and looking at a ski magazine or watching ski porn on the internet is substantially different in that football is a game that’s played, for most people, when they’re 13 years old and maybe if they’re lucky through high school, and then there’s so many hits to the body and so much damage it’s not sustainable. It’s really a game that, if played at the highest level, or even played over time, there’s only a finite small number of people that have that ability. I think the beauty of outdoor adventure sports – skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking – is that’s it’s very participatory and that’s at any level whether you’re a novice or whether you’re a pro.

Quite frankly, it’s rather boring to just sit and look at pictures and watch videos, versus, with football, I’m not sure you watch an NFL football and the average consumer gets out of his chair and walks out onto the playground next door and starts slamming into each other with footballs and pads on their shoulders and helmets, but on the other hand when you watch that same ski porn or you flip through that climbing magazine really I think the end goal is that it inspires you to get out after that read or after that watch and the following weekend actually participate at your level and it’s very scalable, that participation could be going to the climbing gym in downtown NYC or it could be making a trip to Pakistan to climb a big tower. And so I think the beauty of ourdoor adventure sports is that they’re scalable and you can adapt those activities to your lifestyle. And the viewer of ski magazine, it might be inspiration or fuel for that one ski week a year but that’s significantly different than the NFL football fan.

And I would also venture to say that the high quality of content that is being produced now actually does a better job of motivating people because it’s really exquisite I mean the expectation of society for visual content and storytelling is higher than ever before, storytelling it might be a stretch to say that, I think our storytelling as a society might be going down the quality of storytelling, but the visual content, the individual stills, the b-roll ski porn for example is definitely getting better and that’s because of the technology and the level of creativity and the efficiency of today’s image makers.

I think it’s a win-win situation and I think it’s very similar to sports where you ask the question, can people ever ski harder faster steeper and they climb harder? The answer is always yes and I think creativity is the same reality. You know we’re doing things with cameras to today that we never dreamt possible and making pictures that really wow our audience. That’s really at the end of the day what it’s about, it’s making imagery, making still and motion content that really inspires people.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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