New Brunswick born and bred, Mike Corey runs his own brand called Kick the Grind where he travels the world and captures it behind the lens with a curiosity that is both captivating and inspiring. After winning our 'Best Travel Job Ever' competition a few years ago, Mike has been taking his passion to the next level. We sat down with him to pick his brain and find out what inspires him and what advice he has for other budding videographers and photographers.
1. What inspired you to first pick up a camera?
It was Flight Centre’s ‘Best Travel Job Ever’ competition in 2010. It was by entering that contest I discovered my love of making travel videos to begin with. During the trip I remember wandering through Machu Picchu with my video camera thinking, “This… is what I want to do with my life.” As soon as my feet touched Canadian soil again, I vowed I would do everything in my power to make that dream a reality. I spent evenings learning the skills I needed online, and continued to enter every travel video competition I could. Fast forward 3 years, I've finally carved out a niche for what I do. It feels like yesterday and an eon ago at the same time.
2. Who are some of YOUR favourite photographers and videographers?
My favourite videographers are always changing, there are so many talented people rising like rockets. Two I've had my eye on, and have had the fortune to connect with are Caspar Diederik and Matty Brown. Both blur the lines between the Film and Travel Video worlds. I've started to dive quite hard in HDR photography as well. My two favourites at the moment are Ken Kaminesky and Trey Ratcliff
3. You’ve been to over 35 countries now. If you had to pick just one, which destination would you consider most memorable?
Philippines. I've never been to such a happy country. From the airplane "Seat Bingo" on Air Cebu, to the organized employee song and dance I witnessed at a grocery store, the warmth of the country still makes me smile today. In 35 countries I've never experienced so much hospitality. It's my favourite country.
4. Which destination has surprised you the most?
I had the chance to go to Bangladesh with Cathay Pacific. The rumours I had heard were not so great, but I always like to make my own assumptions. I arrived in Dhaka, and what I saw was people with Nothing. Tattered clothes, homelessness, and just enough food to get by... but they were so happy. It shook my whole world. It made me realize we rely so much on what we own. We affiliate with brand names, and choose ones to identify ourselves. It was like seeing the world without it's make-up, both literally and figuratively. I questioned a lot in my life after that trip. I questioned what I really needed to be happy.
5. What motivates you to travel?
I always want to learn, and I always want to feel challenged. I feel like life on the road is a bit like school. However, the lessons aren't labeled, they're not organized into timeslots, and you can't pick your courses. Spend a year seeing the world and you'll become calmer, more calculated, and more confident in yourself. You'll make smarter decisions, and like I mentioned above, what you need to be happy will change. I've become hooked on this feeling; the more I travel, the more I grow. I picked up a camera because I want to show people to see this too.
6. What is your dream destination?
Madagascar. Ever since my grade 6 science project on Biodiversity, It's been the bullseye on my travel dart board. Biology is in my roots, and that country is Mecca. Plus it would be a great place to work on my french.
7. What are your essential camera gear items?
A travel power strip is something that is with me every trip. Monster makes some good ones that are nice and compact. I can charge everything from one outlet with only one adapter. This has saved me many times from waking up over and over in the middle of the night trying to keep everything charged for the next day.
8. What's your favourite thing to shoot and why?
Light. Sunsets, Sunrises, reflection, refraction, Light is an amazing thing; it adds so much feeling to a shot. It changes colour throughout the day, and flares into rainbows inside the lens. I love what I can do with it.
Clouds are a close second. Diving into time lapses has made me appreciate all the different forms and behaviours of those beautiful white pieces of fluff. Everyday is basically like a snowflake, the clouds are always different
9. Aside from your camera gear, what things can't you live without on the road?
A cheap XL Hoodie is one of the first things in my bag. It's a towel, a blanket, a pillow, a protective wrap for breakables, an eye mask, and even gringo disguise is you don't want to attract attention.
Portable speakers: Music is important to me. When hanging out with backpackers, it seems everyone has ipods, but no way to share that “awesome band” others may not have heard of.
Toilet paper: It’s one of those things you only forget to bring once, and then it’s the first thing in your bag from then on.
10. What is the #1 tip you have for a budding photographer/videographer?
Think about it this way; it’s not hard to dance to your favourite song… you just do it. Take that approach to your content; capture things you enjoy. I guarantee your enthusiasm will draw in more people than you think!
I'm assuming that if you are getting involved with travel video and blogging, you're trying to break free and lead a different life than what you are living now. Not many of us get into this niche straight out of school. When you're following your dreams, you work too hard and put too much emotional energy into what you're doing not to be your complete and uncensored self. So what I'm saying is capture things that you are genuinely interested in, even if they're offbeat. If you're not a history person, then don't worry about filming history. Be weird, be different. The world has 7 billion people, chances are really great you can find a few thousand who resonate with that you have to say.