Meet: Cory Maryott
MEET: CORY MARYOTT
LINE OF WORK : PHOTOGRAPHER
A: Tell me about yourself.
C: My name is Cory, I grew up in Los Angeles and I’m now living in San Francisco. Until recently I was social media manager at startup called Munchery. I have a background in landscape architecture from U.C. Berkeley and I do some freelance photography and influencer work with other brands through Instagram.
A: How did you get into photography?
C: I started taking pictures with my first iphone back when I was in Berkeley for fun. But it wasn’t until I took an introduction to digital photography course as an elective that I realized I actually really enjoyed capturing moments via photography. I’ve always been a visual person, and was drawn to beautiful images on tumblr, so I went into photography with a huge cache of inspiration and excitement.
A: Are you working somewhere else right now or are you full time freelance?
C: Up until recently I was working full time as a social media manager at a food startup here in San Francisco called Munchery. The company just went through a major restructuring, and they laid off nearly half the staff at headquarters, so now I’m looking for new work and taking on various freelance projects as they come (and also taking a much needed break for a bit!). I think for the short term, I definitely want to work full time someplace a bit longer, but perhaps a little further out I’ll commit to freelance 100%.
A: How many cameras do you own and which is your favorite?
C: I own three. I have a Canon 6D (which is my favorite), an Olympus OM-1 (a 35mm film camera that is all manual), and of course my iPhone.
A: What was your first camera?
C: When I was a kid I had this camera called the i-Zone which was similar to the instax polaroid camera, that would print on the spot and could stick anywhere. It was a pretty hot item back in the late 90’s early 2000’s. But my first official dSLR, was the Canon Rebel T2i.
A: What some of your influences?
C: One of my biggest influences is Japanese film photography; largely it’s the colors, and the bright airiness of the photos, you get from overexposing your film.
Hamada Hideaki is one of my favorite Japanese film photographers. I got to meet him in NYC, he’s great at capturing simple moments and stories in his work. Another photographer, Elena Zhukova captures the brightest and boldest colors I have ever seen in anyone’s work. She somehow is able to make the colors incredibly rich in a way I rarely see. She is very careful in composing the colors in every one of her images. Also, Elizabeth Gilmore, she is actually a friend of mines who works at Facebook as a designer and does photography on the side. Her use of color and composition is very fresh and creative. Parker Fitzgerald is another film photographer who comes to mind. I love his use of tones, beautiful work. He actually shoots for Kinfolk, which was really influential to me when I was first getting started.
A: Do you have any mentors?
C: Arthur Chang is an awesome photographer and is the founder of Priime (which is a photo-editing app). Art has been one of the most encouraging mentors I have. He has definitely helped me hone my skills and has taught me a lot about how to run a creative business. Pricing, for example, is one of the most challenging parts of doing photography work, and can be really complicated when you’re just starting out. I think a lot of people starting out make the mistake of pricing photography only based on time, when more commonly photographers charge a creative fee (depending on the scope of the project and the production involved), plus licensing fees (determined by the scope of usage the client wants to use the images for). I had no clue about how to approach all this, and Art has helped me out with stuff like this countless times. I actually have been lucky to have a handful of mentors like this help me out. Mat Rick, Pei Ketron, and Luke Beard have all also been incredibly instrumental in helping me develop my skills and confidence.
A: How do you like living in SF?
C: I’ve lived in the Bay for a-while now, Berkeley for 5 years and SF for 1 year, so the thought of moving has definitely crossed my mind. Don’t get me wrong, SF is pretty interesting, a lot of cool people, I think it’s nice that there are a lot of things you could do! It’s really nice that you could be in the city, then quickly be in the woods hiking somewhere. The Bay area has so much to offer. It is, however, also very very expensive, which at times feels crazy.
A: Tips on taking better pictures?
C: Really learn the basics of the technical aspects, read the manual and understand how the camera works. Understand everything about proper exposure, white balance, composition, color, shutter-speed and aperture settings, etc. If you are past that, then I think consuming photos and constantly being inspired and looking through other people’s work is important. I like looking through photo magazines, like Boys by Girls for interesting portraiture work. Kinfolk has been very inspirational, and even other people’s work on Exposure.co is great. Take different elements of inspiration and try to incorporate some into your work, but make it your own.
As for getting better composition, one tip I recommend is to look into old master paintings and study their composition and how they “light” their subjects. With portrait paintings, for example, study how the light hits the face of the subject. Is it soft and from the side? Or is it seemingly harsh and direct? Pay attention to the way shadows fall on the face, too. Try to see across different artists’ work what is flattering or not, then try to emulate that a bit with photography..
Also feedback and critiques will help you grow and learn quicker. Learning how to take constructive criticism is a skill in itself, but it can transform your work. Be sure to take the feedback you get with a grain of salt though, and try to get feedback from many different people. Also I would challenge you to be conscious of your process. How do you go from zero to having an image? If you can deconstruct your creative process and shake it up a bit, I think you’ll find a lot of room for innovation and new divergent ways of creating.
A: Besides photography, do you have any other hobbies?
C: I like to cook, I’m not sure if it’s a hobby, but more of a survival skill. When I moved to SF, I tried to learn new recipes and cooked for fun, but now I have been using the same recipes, and have been meaning to get back into it and try new things again. I used to sketch, and paint with watercolors, but it has been a while. I also play piano by ear!
A: Do you edit pictures?
C: You kinda have to edit photos. It’s pretty unusual if someone is doing digital photography and doesn’t edit them, especially if they are working professionally. I think if someone is just casually snapping pictures, perhaps they don’t need to edit, but for professionals, you almost always have to do at least a basic set of editing to fix contrast, white balance, exposure, etc.
A: Do you always carry around a camera?
C: I use to carry my camera with me everywhere, but I haven’t been recently because it’s so heavy. I have a Canon 6D with a 24mm‑70mm lens which is pretty bulky. It’s something I should start doing again, though I’m tempted to get a smaller mirrorless camera that’s a little more portable.
A: Advice you would give to an aspiring photographer?
C: Learn how to take a technically correct picture, keep shooting until you understand light, your focal length of your lenses, and the basic use of your camera functions. Understand exposure through and through so you can manipulate it. Learning your basic technical skills first sounds basic but is surprisingly so much more important than some might think.. Next, consider what can you bring to the conversation of photography, and what defines your work. If you want to stand out somewhere, do something that is you and that only you can do. Break some rules and experiment.
I think it’s always interesting to see people combining their other creative passions with photography. Like, if someone loves to paint, or loves to dance— I’m always curious to see how they might bring together their different creative voices. It doesn’t necessarily need to be another artistic passion— if you love hiking, or have a cause you’re passionate about, see how photography can play a part in that.Use photography to convey your experience to tell a story.
Check out Cory!