Corey Arnold came across our radar when he was named one of 30 emerging photographers to watch in 2009. His understanding of the real world elements of involvement in a project both photographic and interactive gives Arnold a unique perspective. In between seasons, we were able to pose some questions to him:
PS: Which came first—fishing or photography? When and why did you decide to combine them? How comfortable are you with leading this “double life?”
CA: I was wearing diapers, no shirt and pair of awesome red Ray-Ban looking sunglasses in the earliest picture of me fishing. So, I’d say that fishing came first. My dad was obsessed with sportfishing in Southern California and I joined him on weekly trips at sea. Every trip was meticulously documented by my father and his little 35mm camera. There are hundreds of pictures of me holding fish throughout my life.
In the summer of 1995, a friend and I drove to Alaska in search of commercial fishing jobs to help pay for college, and after a month searching and doing shipyard work, I landed a job as a salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and lived with a family in a remote swath of mosquito and bear- infested tundra along the mouth of one of the largest producing sockeye salmon rivers in the world. This was the beginning of my commercial fishing career, and eventually I decided to start documenting my seasonal life in Alaska.
Financially, commercial fishing helped me to survive art school and gave me more time to focus on personal projects, not having to rely on commercial photo assignments to survive. But the real reason I fish is the lifestyle. It’s a good challenge for the soul to spend part of the year doing purely physical labor in a harsh natural environment. The work satisfies my restless craving for adventure.
Dancing between the city slicker art world and working class Alaska has certainly given me an identity crisis, but hopefully I can tell this story from a unique perspective that people find inspiring.