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Home FEATURES Corey Arnold

Corey Arnold

Written by Noah Hanson   
Thursday, 12 May 2005 08:36
Maybe you've seen Corey on Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. He's the amazing photographer on the Rollo.

As you may remember, last month trippe posted a link and a handful of pics up by Corey. Sooo many people dug his stuff that his site was on again off again for a few days from too much traffic. Cory's stuff is that amazing. Here's part of an email I got from Corey.


Really nice that I had my bandwidth exceeded twice after being posted on fecal face... (I think) My web host emailed me and said he has to charge me more money now! I glanced at your column and yes, I'd be honored to do an interview. The problem is that I'm trekking around in the northernmost town in Europe at the moment. Will be killing whales next week with a Norwegian whaling crew... I'm very thankful for fecal faces existence. Its really one of the best quality art sites I've seen.

It took a while, but finally we were able to arrange somthing around his seafaring adventures.


Guys and Dolls, Corey Arnold.

SHRN: So, can you give us all a little bio on yourself? age and some backround, etc.

CA:I'm 29 and was born and raised in Vista, So. California. I started sportsfishing with my father in the sea when I was 5 or so. I was the coolest for share and tell because I would show up with a dead baby shark or a dead body I found floating in the sea and everyone would say things like "Wow". I guess you could say I reached my "cool" peak at the age of 9. Anyway, when I wasn't fishing I was often skateboarding at Carlsbad skatepark (McGill's) and attending Calvary Chapel's skate nights. When I was 16, I worked as a pool cleaner and cleaned Matt Hensley's parents pool every week (Another period of glory). After high school I lived in Flagstaff, AZ and then SF for 6 years going to the Academy of Art College for photography. Meanwhile, in the summers I found a job as a salmon fisherman, living on a remote stretch of tundra/ beach in Bristol Bay. I didn't make much money but maybe got addicted to all the killing. I've kept on commercial fishing seasonally. Now I work three months a year on a Bering Sea Crabber fishing King and Opilio Crab.


SHRN: Weird. I lived in Vista as a kid too, and would also bring in dead beach sea creatures for show and tell. The horse shoe crab was a big hit in the 1st grade.. And Matt Hensley's parents pool?!

Anyway, how'd you get into photography, and how long has it been your passion?

CA:I started taking pictures when my dad bought me a pentax k1000 when I was maybe 13. I got a lot of great feedback in photography 101 in high school, and later in a few photo classes at Northern Arizona University, but I wasn't really addicted until I moved to San Francisco and became aware of the limitless possibilities of photographs. The time I spent experimenting in art school was crucial for me. Some people don't need art school, but my conservative suburban SoCal backround lacked the essential tools! My world changed in 1998 when I discovered Sally Mann's work. She continues to be my biggest influence. Maybe you'll notice the inspiration in "The Animal Condition" series I've been adding to for 5 years. The tortured animal theme that often runs through my pictures is linked my childhood love of animals and nature which curiously contrasted a love of backyard hunting and fishing. I could spend hours stalking a bird or squirrel with my BB gun when I was a teenager, adrenaline pumping with excitement, but after the kill, I often felt guilty and sorry for the thing. I remember trying to shoot this hummin'bird for months. When I finally got him, I felt sick with guilt. I killed it simply for sport and so I gave him/her a proper burial to make myself feel better. Now I try to only kill things for food.


SHRN: I think I can see the Sally Mann influence in the kitty picture. There's a really cool PBS series called Art 21, and she's on there. She talks about a bunch pictures of dog bones she took.

How'd you get the grants to photograph the fishing industry in Norway?

CA:Anyone interested in doing an art project in Scandinavia should check out the American Scandinavian Foundation. They have a cultural exchange program and give lots of money each year to American artists and graduate students traveling to Scandinavia. The odds of getting money are unheard of. One out of five applicants will receive money to travel to Norway.

SHRN: Why have you chosen to document the fishing industry? has it been a major part of your life, or was it just a new interest for you to go after?

CA:I choose to be a commercial fisherman for the adventure and love of the sea, the hard physical lifestyle and thirdly, the money. Now, I've found a way to combine that lifestyle with photography. I've been photographing while I work for 5 crab seasons. It can be really hairy out there on deck with a medium format camera. Seawater is flying every direction at all times. It's nice to be able to share that experience in pictures. Now, I'm in Norway. I moved to Oslo 2.5 years ago when I had a Norwegian girlfriend and so I thought I'd check out Arctic fishing life in Norway as well. So I'm sitting on a boat near NordKapp (the northernmost spot in Europe) at the moment.

People here savor the harshness of the environment. Everyone is welcoming me on their boats and I've taken hundreds of Portraits. This is the most exciting and interesting project for me that I've ever embarked on. In a couple weeks, I will be out on a whaling boat to witness a hunt. I don't know of any foreign photographers allowed on board since someone sold their pictures to Greenpeace a decade ago. I'm super happy at the moment.


SHRN: What kind of camera(s) do you use, and why do you prefer to use that/those one(s)?

CA:I use an old Mamiya 645 pro most of the time, although some of the stuff is 35mm. I like the depth I get out of medium format and the 645 is light enough to travel with. I'm also lugging along a canon 20D... Shooting digital for freelance magazine jobs.

SHRN: How do you manage to get such great shots, and how many duds do you end up with per good one?

CA: I don't know how to answer that one. I think I just try to keep it simple and avoid busy-ness in my photos... Lately I've started centering everything. I don't know if its good or bad yet. But anyway I think my portraits are getting more confrontational. I'm not rich, so I have to conserve film. I select my shots carefully.


SHRN:Whats your favorite subject to shoot? animals, people, architect, scenery...?

CA:Animals are the best because they don't get nervous and they can be totally unpredictable. I think if I could make a good living taking twisted pet pictures, I would die happy. I'm into shooting people a lot at the moment here in Norway. There are some nice characters here and a lot of missing fingers. Its easier to take portraits of foreign people. You don't have to be super witty to get cooperation you want and people don't smile for the camera instantly like Americans have been programmed to do. Also its easier to get access to people and places here in Norway. People aren't so worried about slander and lawsuits and they aren't so paranoid.


SHRN:Do you live off of your photography?

CA:I live mostly off fishing and use that to create my own photo projects but now things are starting to change and I'm finding some editorial and commercial work here in Norway. I had an exhibition in Oslo in 2003 that went quite well and I was able to live off of that for a year or so. Before I moved to Norway I made a living off Photo assisting in SF for 2.5 years

SHRN: What is it like to have your own exhibit?!

CA:I got an exhibition in Oslo that was fully sponsored in a giant high end restaurant called Bølgen og Moi. They blew up prints from my Animal Condition Series up to 9 feet tall and spent an absurd amount of money on it. It was a great foot in the door in Norway. It was frightening to be at the opening with everyone looking at me. I didn't feel like having a birthday party that year.

SHRN: future plans or projects?

CA:My life goal is to get funded to travel around taking photos of commercial fishing life around the world. Also I'm learning taxidermy. The limits of taxidermy are non-existent. Its a craft that takes tremendous patience and practice. Something that I think is often missing in contemporary art. That¹s another craft with these animal loving/killing contrast issues that light my fire.


SHRN: inspirations?

CA:The Old Man and the Sea, Jack London, Amelie (the movie), Spike Jonze, Kim Saatvedt, Reindeer, Rognkjeks.

SHRN:music and art/photography wise, what are you digging right now?

CA:At the moment I'm listening to the new Mars Volta, The Sea and Cake, Wilco, Turbonegro, Gris Gris, Hightower!, Fuzzmatica. Photo and art wise I'm real hip on Joel Sternfield. His latest book "Stranger Passing" is the most honest portrayal of Americans I've ever seen. Peter Beard is rad. He has managed to mix art and nature in a bloody, twisted way. I saw some of his pieces in Paris last year on the wall of a resaurant. I like how he mixes animal blood, drawings and text with photography. Not many can pull that off with style.

SHRN: How dangerous are those boats, really?

CA:The crab fishing thing has a reputation as the most dangerous job in America. I think the Dicovery Channel came up with that one, but yeah, it can be quite hairy out there. Last season a boat rolled over just 20 miles away with no warning and 5 died. Another guy fell over and was lost on a different boat hours later. That's part of the drawl I guess. Crab Fishing is more of an adventure then it is fun and the money is worth the risk for me. I don't think I'll do that for much longer. I'd be great to fish on a smaller boat in the summertime.


SHRN:Sounds pretty insane to me. Thanks a lot for doing the interview, and stay safe out on those boats!

CA:Yeah thanks for interest! Let me know if you need anything else. Have a lovely day.

More of Corey's stuff can be viewed here, http://www.coreyfishes.com/

Do it up!


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