“The best thing that happened to me was that I got to choose what route I wanted to go in life,” photographer and director Corey Wilson shared with us when we caught up with him at his home in Los Angeles. “I didn’t have anyone telling me what I could and couldn’t do.”

For this episode of Life on Tour, we got an up-close look at Corey Wilson living out his dreams, from starting out as one of the most successful and prominent surf photographers to becoming the director for several prestigious brands.

As a kid growing up in Santa Cruz, dragging his camera on every surf and skate trip, Corey knew he wanted to pursue photography, specifically as a senior staff photographer at Surfing magazine.

“I was so hungry, so motivated, so driven to get the best photo or moment possible,” he laughed. “Putting yourself in positions that not many people get—you’re almost putting your life on the line for a photograph, for a memory.”

But putting himself out there paid off. Shortly after his graduation, Corey was offered his dream job, a staff position at Surfing magazine.

“All this hard work, all these countless hours, three years of school just grinding, and now everything kind of paid off,” Corey related, still seeming a bit awestruck. “So many opportunities to see the world, meet new people, and develop relationships with brands… That was kind of the beginning of everything.”

And while most people would be happy to ride out their careers catching photos of perfect waves and epic surf spots, Corey wasn’t content to stick with the status quo.

“It was about 10 years of my life doing surf photography, 11 out of 12 months on the road just kind of on autopilot. It was a lot, it was becoming too much,” he admitted. “If you do the same thing over and over and over, you’re going to get burnt out. I needed a change.”

For us, it’s always cool to hear not just how someone like Corey got started, but to dig into the headspace of someone so creatively minded. Taking a risk like uprooting your career to pursue something new can be daunting—but between Corey’s talent and his willingness to put himself out there and forge new relationships, he began a fresh, exciting chapter in Los Angeles.

Selfishly, we’re glad Corey made the move. Over the years, we’ve developed a close friendship with Corey. In fact, you may recognize some of his work on our His & Her Cloud Collection campaign and our Life on Tour Challenge in 2021. But his new relationships didn’t start and stop with us. After making the jump to Los Angeles, Corey began shooting for automotive and fashion brands, which led to a global campaign with Aston Martin.

“There’s a couple of ways that people live life,” Corey said, explaining his work philosophy. “One being grind, hustle, make money. And the other way is a more artistic way, and that’s to enjoy life, have as much fun as possible, connect with other people.” He pauses, thinking for a moment. “If you put love and passion into something, [your work is] going to respond in a very positive way. People are going to love it.”

But Corey doesn’t just pour love and passion into his work, it’s how he lives life—something that was clear to us when we met up with him and his friends UFC fighter Luke Rockhold, professional surfer Owen Wright, and popular DJ Fisher at Terranea for a round of golf.

“Corey is always down for a good time,” Fisher laughs. “Corey literally does everything under the sun. The list is actually as long as the sun!”

Like swim two kilometers into shark-infested waters to capture the perfect photos of Owen Wright.

“Probably the best photo I’ve ever had!” Owen laughs.

“I was hungry back then, and I’m just as hungry, but now I’m smarter about how I use that hunger in life,” Corey explains thoughtfully. “I feel like I’m finding that balance of work and personal life. Once you find that, you start getting momentum and everything starts falling into place. Once you get some momentum, just keep going with it—you never know where it’s going to take you.”

If we had to guess, we’d say that momentum will take Corey to big places. Knowing him, it’ll be epic, uncharted territory.