Surf the Greats: Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing on the Great Lakes and how surfing came into your life?
Cory Patterson: I Grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan—in the Gull Lake area. In high school I became friends with W.J Nowack; they happened to be a surf family owning shops going on surf trips. They got me into something that will never leave me and I am truly grateful. Trip how the universe works! Thanks Dubz!!
STG: Do you remember the wave you caught that really got you hooked in the sport?
CP: I do! I was living in Florida at the time surfing but never really caught it good. I went on a surf trip to California back before I moved out here permanently. We ended up at Leo and lined up on the second wave of the set. It wasn't 20 million feet over head and me and 2 dudes where out. It was crowded as shit and like chest high, but that view the wave and that feeling is still so vivid in my mind and soul!
STG: When did you start working as a photographer and how did you get into surf photography?
CP: I first got into photography in high School through my teacher Penny Brisco. She showed me the ropes and when I graduated I got a job at a studio with photographer Gary Yonkers. He took me under and really pushed me. I haven't stopped yet. And as a photographer you kinda find yourself shooting what you love, so surfing just kinda fell into place!
STG: We had a great time meeting some of the key people of your community in Oceanside. Can you tell us how you found these guys?
CP: The Whitlocks!! I met the Whitlocks (RW Surfboards in Oceanside Ca.) working on assignment for a web series on there shop. As a photographer in love with surfing, I feel like I am capturing history for the surf world. So think this will be my subject for a while and super honored that they let me in to photograph them and their shop.
STG: You mentioned Rusty Whitlock has been shaping all of your boards, can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with him and his sons Cory and Ricky?
CP: I think after a month into the web series shoot, I ended up buying a board from the Whitlocks. We went into the bay and talked about everything and out came the perfect board for me, and three boards later still can say the same thing. Really blessed to have such talent to go to on my gear. As far as my relationship with the Whitlocks, I have so much respect for them and their crew they have the biggest hearts and put blood, sweat and tears into every inch of what they do. And Cory and Ricky rip. Makes it fun for me as a photographer!
STG: Being a surfer and a surf photographer, how do you decide when to paddle out and when to shoot?
CP: I usually try to surf after we shoot! I also try and take a surf trip once a year for myself. I keep my cup full. Gotta keep that stoke!
STG: As a Great Lake export, what do you want the world to know about Great Lake surfing?
CP: Honestly I have never seen the Lakes really work. So maybe you can change that and then I can answer that a little more properly...
STG: That's right. We will get you out for a proper surf next time you are home!
STG: What’s your dream place to surf and to shoot?
CP: Wherever there is a wave. I just want to keep traveling. Some of my best surf trips have been in the most random of places!
You can check out more of Cory's work at www.corypphotography.com.
Surf photography © Cory Patterson 2015.