If you’ve spent any amount of time on Instagram, you know two things are true; travel is a hot topic and the craft brewing community is a strong one. So what do you get when you combine the two? Your new must-follow IG photographer—Cory Smith.
After checking out his profile or website, it’s not hard to see why he’s a favorite amongst travelers, craft beer aficionados, and photography junkies alike. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Cory daylights as a Creative Director in the Advertising world. So, let’s learn a little more about the story of the man behind the lens.
Getting to travel and share stunning pictures for a living seems like quite the dream job, how did you end up where you are now?
My Instagram, and many of the stories I’ve photographed and written for Good Beer Hunting, has been very craft beer-based. But along the way, I began to notice that, when traveling to these breweries and bars, the travel aspect was a large component. Certain places had a unique feel or vibe that helped tell a larger story. So I shifted my focus a bit to that, while always maintaining a focus on beer. I even pitched a story to Good Beer Hunting that encapsulated a 16-day road trip through Spain, my largest travel-focused piece to date, which really started to illustrate the overlap. So I’d say I ended up here by naturally following my interests and allowing the larger story that I was capturing and telling to develop organically.
How often do you travel?
Not as much as I’d like to! In truth, my wife and I travel a fair amount, but all trips are not equivalent. The rough rule of thumb is that we try to take two larger trips per year, usually to Europe for a good chunk of time. We then pepper in a few road trips on the East Coast (Portland, ME, Savannah, GA, and Montreal are some examples) along with a couple of further destinations in the US that would require flying — this year, for example, it was Tucson, AZ and Seattle, WA
Do you feel like your photography dictates your travel or vice versa?
Definitely vice versa. My travel usually arises from discussions with my wife, where we want to see or go next. We often take the approach of “something new, something old.” We love trips where we get to experience new things, then wind down with a familiar city. Last year we visited Berlin and Prague to get some new cities in, then finished off the trip with, of course, Copenhagen. I tend to have my camera with me at all times, so regardless of where we are, I’ll be shooting. So the experience and the place definitely leads the charge with regards to where we travel.
Which destination has been your favorite place to photograph? Is it the same as your favorite place to travel?
I’d say the two are different actually. My favorite to photograph has been Iceland. I traveled there for a music festival back in 2014 and it’s been unlike anything I’ve seen to date, visually speaking. At one point, my friends and I jumped in three cars and drove the Golden Circle. Along the way, we pulled over in an isolated area. I scurried away to get a photo of us all but ended up just shooting it wide because when I looked back at them, it was this other-worldly landscape. My favorite place to travel is Copenhagen. If you keep up with me on Instagram, you’ll see I’ve visited there more than anywhere else. A handful of my followers have actually reached out to me saying they’ve created itineraries and travel plans in Copenhagen based on my IG stories and my posts. That’s a huge compliment because I love that city and want others to enjoy it as I have through the years.
Your Instagram highlights the craft beer industry, what is it about this niche that you’re drawn to?
Craft brewers are makers. They’re creators and each is fairly unique. When I started really paying attention to craft beer, I decided to turn my camera to it. That just happened to coincide with the early days of social media, particularly Instagram, playing a larger role in the current explosion of craft brewing in America. The people behind the beer, the cities its brewed in and how that impacts local communities are all elements as fascinating to me as the beer itself. Each has a different story so there’s always something new to discover. Sometimes I’ll be in town for a story, other times I’ll just pop into a brewery and chat with an owner/brewer, and each time, the conversation is unique. I like that and I like relaying those stories.
Not to pick favorites but, in your opinion, which city has the best craft beer?
That’s an incredibly difficult question to answer. Everyone’s interests and palates are different, so there can’t be one, definitive city. For me personally, I’d go with Portland Maine. I’ve done two stories up there so there’s a possibility of bias here but speaking objectively, I like their diversity of offering. You have, quite literally, every kind of beer you could want within a relatively small radius. From stalwarts like Allagash making progressive, oak-aged/barrel-aged sours as well as one of the few American breweries utilizing a coolship to folks like Bissell Brothers and Austin Street making exciting, contemporary IPAs, and everything in between. With that said, it’s been fun to watch things take off in my hometown of Richmond, VA as well. The beauty is, with the current explosion of craft, there’s now more and more great beer being brewed and poured in so many places, including smaller, underserved cities. It’s a great time if you’re a craft beer drinker.
Advice to people hoping to break into the creative space?
Do something that’s of genuine interest to you, not something you view simply as an opportunity to take advantage of. Authenticity and having a genuine interest will sustain your endeavor. If there’s no passion that’s deep-seeded, the drive to continue can decline rapidly. But when you’re doing something creative that comes from an innate desire to create and share, something you really enjoy, it will be apparent. I think people respond to creative endeavors that come from a position of authenticity versus an observed opportunity.