Safety Tips for Action Photographers


Action Sport Photography with Red Bull Photographer Corey Rich


Lesson Info

Safety Tips for Action Photographers

I just wanna make one note around safety, and that note, and this is... This is real in the action sports adventure world. You know, there's no photograph that's worth taking big risks for. What makes this career, what makes this passion so amazing is that you have these incredible experiences and then you get to come back and tell great stories and share photos and you're friends forever. And as soon as people start getting wiped out and hurt or you get hurt, all the fun disappears. Or worse case scenario, someone actually gets killed. It's no longer fun. And it's a rule that I live by. There's no photograph that's worth risking someone's health or life. And I think it's a really important, you should never, ever, ever let the fear of, or the pressure of you need to deliver... As soon as something doesn't feel right you call it. Like you literally... The athletes not feeling it, you're not feeling it, the conditions aren't right. There's something in the back of your head that says th...

is might not work. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying don't take risks. You know, risk is part of the game. I wanted to show this photo just so you're not looking at a slide that says safety, and I think our job is to sort of understand where that fine line between risk and reward really is. This is a photograph... If you're wondering that is the same ladder that you have in your garage. You can buy it at home depot, and I think we broke every direction on the box on how to use it. This is not what their legal team advised. But, we sort of weigh the odds and we weigh the risks. Will this kill me? Absolutely not, if I fall off the end of the ladder I'm gonna slam into the wall, and it might break a D4 camera and it might hurt my face and I'll skin up my knees... So I weigh that, I say is this gonna make a cool photograph? Yes, it might. Is it going to kill me or hurt me? It won't kill me. Will it hurt me? It will definitely hurt me. But will I hit the wall? No, I shouldn't. This is a controlled environment. I don't think the ladder's gonna fail. I mean it was awkward and precarious to get out on the end of that ladder but that's how you make interesting pictures, right? That's how you get into intriguing, surprising positions. Now, but there's another layer to this photo. This is Alex Honnold. Alex is maybe the biggest name in rock climbing ever, and Alex made a name for himself by climbing without a rope. He was on the cover of National Geographic, 60 minutes, and he is an incredibly intelligent human being. Incredibly gifted athlete. But the real fear here, what I'm very conscious of, I'm taking myself out of the equation. If I slam into the wall that's my problem. What I'm really conscious of, we're in Joshua Tree National Park, Alex is climbing on a 5.12 plus crack climb that's 50 feet off the ground, is... Does he feel comfortable? And it's putting... And he has no rope, but it's really putting zero pressure on Alex. Alex as soon as this does not feel right, and this is a conversation that I have before we start shooting. Alex, the instant it doesn't feel right, you just call it. You just call it. If we get to shoot it once that's fine, if I never get to shoot it that's okay. We've explained this to our client, that's what makes the magic here. And I think creating that atmosphere of wanting the athlete to be safe is incredibly important. And I can tell you the way that it went down. We shot two days. I think the first day Alex climbed it three or four times, which was more than I thought we would get and on day two it was warmer. Alex did one lap. On the second lap he got up and he... He was fumbling and sweaty and he said, "I'm just not feeling it. "Can you guys throw me a rope." And we lowered a rope, he down climbed and that was it. And it was that freedom and comfort to sort of say hey, like white flag, I don't wanna do this anymore, and you know, that is why Alex will lead a long life, is that he actually knows when to call it. But that starts with you actually saying it's okay and reinforcing that on a regular basis as a photographer. You know, I show this photo and I'm showing this for two reasons. Not because it's appealing aesthetically. But I show this photo... This goes way back. This is like one of the first photographs that I ever had published. This is a Patagonia ad. It's a surf trip gone bad. This is my buddy that lived down the hallway in the dormitories, and sort of everything went wrong that could go wrong on a trip. Tom got stung by a bunch of jellyfish, went into anaphylactic shock. He had a stomach infection from Hell, kidney stone. And the only woman in the small fishing village who could administer an injection happened to be the same waitress at the only cantina in town where we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, on these same tables. And I show this picture because it's a reminder that these are the best trips. This is why we do it, right? We want the discomfort. We want things to go wrong, it makes amazing photos, it makes for great stories. But there's a reality check, when the shit hits the fan like have a contingency plan. And maybe that's as simple as you have a first aid kit. Maybe it's as simple as you have your phone and there's cell coverage and you know how to dial 9-1-1. Or when we go to really remote places you rent a satellite phone, and you get insurance so that if something really goes wrong there's a way to get someone who's injured out of that place.

Class Description

Being an action sports photographer is about more than getting freeze frames of famous athletes. It’s about documenting the experience of people for whom the line between passion and work is blurred. At his or her best, the action photographer tells compelling stories that show us at our most daring, fearless, and adventurous.

Corey Rich is one of the world's leading outdoor adventure and action sports photographers, adept at distilling the essence of extreme action sports and adventure travel and lifestyle.  In addition to documenting extreme sports for Red Bull, Corey has worked for many of the biggest brands in the world.  This is your opportunity to follow Corey as he prepares for a shoot on location, and learn how he evokes powerful brand stories like those he has made for Red Bull. 

Join us for this live class, and you will learn:

  • How to work with a client, and shoot with their brand in mind
  • How to prepare yourself and your gear for a shoot in an extreme environment
  • How to take photos of extreme sports pros, and work with variable light conditions

This class will stream live from the location of the shoot in Lake Tahoe. Corey will be shooting Red Bull athletes as they perform at Ski Mountain Terrain Park and at a nearby BMX park. There will also be a live session from a Tahoe cabin to discuss photo theory and Corey’s experience of building his photo practice and working for Red Bull. 


1Class Introduction 2What Makes A Great Action Photo 3Conceptualize the Shoot 4Research Location / Wardrobe / Props for Action Shoot 5Safety Tips for Action Photographers 6What Gear Do I Need? Packing and Prep 7Workflow and Asset Management 8Ingesting and Organizing Files 9Editing Down Your Selects 10Post Processing Overview 11Working with Clients to Select Finals 12Retouching & Post Processing: Image 1 13Retouching & Post Processing: Image 2 14Retouching & Post Processing: Image 3 15Final Client Delivery 16Introduction to Snow Athletes 17Setting up the Shot: Using Natural Light 18Getting that First Action Shot: Snow Park 19Scouting Location for Action Shot: Snow Park 20Capturing Variation of Snow Park Action Shot 21Refining the Snow Park Action Shot 22Action Shot with Strobes Overview 23Shoot: Action Shot with Strobes 24How to Light Using Strobes 25Action Shoot: Snow Park with Strobes 26Refining the Snow Park Action Shoot: Using Strobes 27Capturing Variation with Snow Park Athletes 28Capturing Portraits: Snowboarder 29Capturing Portrait: Skier 30Shoot: Feature Jump Action Shot Afternoon Natural Light 31Introduction to Today's Shoot 32Building a Rapport with the Athlete: BMX Rider 33Scouting Location for Action Shot: Indoor BMX Park & Natural Light 34Getting the First Action Shot: BMX 35Conceptualizing the Action Shot: BMX 36Prepping Gear & Refining the Action Shot: BMX 37Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Natural Light 38Setting up Remote Cameras 39Capturing BMX Action Shots: Remote Cameras 40Conceptualizing the Shot: Using Strobes in Indoor BMX Park 41Lighting with Strobes: Indoor BMX Park 42Action Shoot: BMX Athlete with Strobes 43Capturing Variations of BMX Athlete 44Shoot High Angle Action Shot: BMX Rider 45Directing an Athlete Portrait: Indoors 46Lighting a Portrait: Indoor BMX Athlete 47Portrait Demo: Indoors BMX Athlete 48Portrait Demo: Adding Atmosphere 49Transmitting Live from the Field 50Panel Q&A


a Creativelive Student

If you're looking to learn from one of the greats of action photography who also happens to be an incredible instructor, look no further! Corey Rich and his fantastic team will show you every facet of being a great action photographer and they share all of their insights from A to Z. Their instruction is heartfelt and they laid it all out there for everyone's benefit. A huge thank you to Creative Live and Red Bull Photography for bringing this to the world. This is a must have class in your library!


One of the best photographic purchases I've made. Big fan of Corey Rich's work and getting a behind the scenes look at how he works and thinks was thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. Corey and the others also provided a great amount of insight into the business world behind action sports photography.