When Nate Lawrence rings and recommends a photographer for a Photo Credit feature, we know we had better answer. Because it’s going to be a doozy. Especially when the name comes from Santa Cruz. We called up Cory Hansen and his submission blew our mind. A mix of beautiful and retrospective moments that define an era and an area. We caught up with him and gave him the gallery platform to showcase.
What Youth: Where did you grow up?
Cory Hansen: I was born and raised in Santa Cruz. It was the best home base a kid could ask for. Parents instilled traveling early on and that everything is temporary so get out and experience as much of the universe as possible in this short time we have on earth.
How old were you when you were introduced to photography?
Not that I really remember this, but I have old prints from when I was 3 or 4 years old, crouched in the grass, shitty point and shoot in hand, firing off frames of the family golden retriever. But that was a long time ago before “Auggie” learned to shoot his own digital selfies
Do you remember when you realized that it had gone from a hobby to something that had a style of it’s own and you could do something with photography?
As much as I consider myself a “professional” I never want photography to stop being a hobby. It is such a powerful tool and I find great enjoyment in the endless pursuit of creativeness it brings. Its that wild chase of balance and knowledge that we can never truly master which also pertains to so many things in our lives.
When did photography become an art for you, or a career path?
Throughout high school I knew I wanted to do something with photography but honestly was more caught up on studying girls and beer than composition and light. For my high school graduation my parents got me a ticket to Bali and thats when the fire really got lit that I could do this for a career and retain a high level of passion forever. A lot of that influence stemmed from being alongside Nate Lawrence on that same trip. Our group of friends from Harbor High included Nate [Lawrence], Frankie De’ Andrea and Jesse Colombo who all seemed to push each other in the form of heckling the living shit out of each other. Grateful forever [laughs].
Did you go to school or have a mentor?
No, I never received any formal schooling in photography. Senior year we were instructed to job shadow any person of interest who shared the same career we were pursuing. That person for me was Senior Transworldsurf photographer Dave “Nelly” Nelson. We instantly hit it off and started work on shooting film double flash during dusk and dawn. I was the man with the second flash other wise known as “slave” or Barney’s [Shawn Barron] nickname “Statue of Liberty.” Nelly was a visionary and I was hooked on being part of a team that was pioneering aspects of the flash surf photography game. :earning photography in this form is a concept that seems to be forgotten in this digital age but a lesson I will never lose sight of. We are still best friends to this day and I thank Dave and my parents for this healthy life long addiction.
When you first started, what did you shoot?
I mainly shot surfing holding a garbage waterproof camera with friends willing to gamble on taking this floundering kook out to try to get the shot. 36 frames, one at a time, figure it out and don’t get ran over.
Where did you work before photography became a job?
Lemonade stand boss, golf ball cleaner, on-call nap aficionado at a surf shop, green hedge trimmer, cattle caller and professional to-go order gringo at mexican food joint. Happy about my choice in photography.