The Struggle in Exploring Our Changing World


“Climbing is akin to love. It’s hard to explain; we endure pain for the joy that comes with discovering ourselves and the planet.”

–          Cory Richards.


In celebration of the National Geographic’s 125th anniversary, photographers were invited to ‘Explore Our Changing World’; ‘we live in a fast-paced world that is getting faster all the time. Things happen that the human eye cannot even register. That’s when the power of photography really shines. It captures what other tools cannot. Now more than ever, that power is vital to documenting the world we live in. And that world is changing faster every day. Photography enables us to capture that change, document it for others to see, and explore what that means for ourselves and our communities.’[1]


In this self portrait, Cory Richards, photographer and alpine climber, captures the struggle in documenting our changing world. Following an emergency evacuation from Mount Everest, Richards suffered respiratory distress and decided he would not return to the National Geographic/The North Face expedition to summit the mountain. As part of ‘Speaker Series’, Richards spoke of his passion for photography and alpine climbing, as ‘both sides of the lens’. Photography allowed Richards the opportunity to continue to explore in an environment both captivating and fascinating. On the one hand, behind the camera, Richards was a success. However, experiences like Mount Everest were very much on the other side of the lens. Richards explains without failure, success is unknowable; nonetheless, living on both sides of the lens is a delicate balance.[2] In capturing our changing world, Richards found the greatest challenge was not the athletic part, it was the balance of knowing when to be an athlete and when to be a photographer: ‘knowing both sides allows you to understand them more intimately, but it demands a constant immersion… it’s a vital part of the journey and the balance is constantly redefining itself.’[3]


Why do we feel the need to photograph every nook and cranny of the world we live in? Is this quest to document our experience worth clinging onto the side of mountain getting essentially the same picture as the last guy? Or is the power of photography enabling us to capture the change in our world and allowing us to explore and document it for our future generations?


For the online gallery, visit


[2] Speaker Series. (2013). Cory Richards. 21/10/13.

[3] Great Outdoors Blog. (2013). Exclusive Interview: Cory Richards. 21/10/13.



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