Why Vulnerability is the Key to Great Art

Here’s an inspiring video in which renowned adventure photographer Cory Richards discusses why he believes vulnerability is the key to making great art.

Note: There’s some strong language in the video.

“You have to show up, and you have to bring all your baggage with you,” Richards says in the 3.5-minute video by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. “If you show up and try to make art and you didn’t bring your baggage, well f**k it — where are you paint brushes?”

He shares that photography is taken to the next level when both the photographer and the subject are vulnerable in the process.

“You want to catch [your subject] in that in-between moment, where they are thinking about something,” says Richards. “They’ve left you, and you are no longer present in their mind. They have now wandered and they are now thinking of something else. That’s reality.”

For one of its cover photos, National Geographic used a selfie Richards shot after a traumatic mountain climbing experience — Richards had captured the type of moment in himself that he always looks to capture in others.


Richards was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012.

“You have to show up, you have to be vulnerable,” Richards states. “And if you can bring that to a photograph, and you can share that […] and if you can give yourself over to it with all of your shortcomings and all of your assets, you will make great pictures […] because that’s when you connect.”