Corey Hochachka Q&A
What's your favourite book?
"I don't read much for fun, but I have read some good books on birth-order, relationships, theology and photography and science-related topics."
What's your favourite movie?
"Not much time for movies either, but The Matrix is high on my list. A funny classic in our house is Better Off Dead with John Cusack from 1985."
When you were still a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"A fighter pilot, or maybe a race car driver ... my brother wanted to be a tree ... he did end up taller than me."
What do you want to see on your tombstone?
"Here lies the body of a good man, dedicated father, and loving husband. He always pushed the boundaries of his comfort zone, and lived life to the fullest."
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
"To have had a hand in raising one child (so far) into being a good man."
Do you have any superstitions?
If you could change anything, what would it be?
"Mutual understanding on Earth."
"Red tape, and a legalistic legal and criminal system."
Rolling Stones or Beatles?
"Neither, although if I had to pick, it would be Beatles. My music collection is quite eclectic from hard rock, to punk, alternative, electronic and folk, with a little hip-hop and country thrown in."
There's no doubt that Corey Hochachka knows how to take a fine picture. Trouble is, there are a few things about the man behind the camera that are just begging to get into frame too.
He's also very serious about some of his hobbies, one of which often finds him in some pretty precarious places. Perhaps being the son of a nickel miner has made the 44-year-old genetically feel more comfortable than most to exploring caves or spelunking.
Oops. That's not the right term, he remarked with a hint of disdain.
"We are not spelunkers. We don't go spelunking," he gently admonished. "We are cavers. We go caving."
A spelunker is still a real word, he elaborated, but has become a derogatory term to refer to 'newbies' or inexperienced cavers or anyone who might be a liability on an expedition by doing something foolish, causing an incident or injury.
"If you don't know what you're doing, you don't want to figure it out underground in the dark. If you're at all claustrophobic then caving is not for you."
Hochachka clearly knows what he's doing. He's spent many years figuring things out for himself.
When he was just out of high school, he didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. He took up jobs as a baker and warehouse worker to pay the bills. Upon the birth of his son, the new and doting dad wanted to take better pictures of his child.
That's when he first set himself to learn more about photography. The rest, as they say, is history. He always considered himself artistic but his proficiency in drawing wasn't enough. He was a little bit impatient for his pictures to develop, so to speak.
"It took me forever. It wasn't like some artists who could sit down and they could do some amazing drawing in five to 30 minutes or something. It would take me a week or two. When I picked up photography and started getting better at it, I realized that it was an easier outlet for me to express myself."
His outlet for expression got noticed and his talent grew. He built himself a darkroom and took more and more pictures. People told him he was good. He went to school – both at Grant MacEwan Community College and NAIT – to further develop his creativity and his prowess. He started Troglodyte Photography, his Mission area business that just celebrated its 15th year of operations specializing in commercial, industrial, stock and fine art photography.
Nowadays, he can call himself a master. Yes, he's recently been bestowed with a Masters in Photographic Arts designation by the Professional Photographers of Canada, or PPOC. He's earned accolades all around, including the 2010 Commercial Photographer of the Year for Alberta and Saskatchewan. One of his images won the Best of Class in the wildlife and animal category at the PPOC's National Print competition. People know him far and wide as a guy who pays attention to details, just like a good photographer should.
"Too much so," he admits, with a laugh. "Being an artist, obsessiveness is kind of good. They say, 'the weirder you are, the better an artist you are.' I find I'm not quite weird enough to be a really great artist but not quite normal enough to be normal."
Paying attention to details, preparedness and a hearty sense of adventure are excellent characteristics for a caver too. He admits that it's an extreme sport but still doesn't consider himself an extreme athlete.
It also helps to be friendly and have a big heart too if you want to be a good caver. He's always ready to help out his fellow adventurers, and even helped to teach a caving course through the Alberta Speleological Society earlier this year. He's also training to be a rescuer as well.
Hochachka has all the bases covered. Just ask Nicholas Vieira, popularly known as the Crazy Caver of Alberta. He said that Hochachka is a definite asset.
"He is a good person who will always help if asked to help out to the best of his knowledge and skill," he stated, elaborating that asking isn't necessary, emphasizing how much he also pays attention to detail.
When he's not taking pictures or exploring the world underground, he spends time with his pets. True to Hochachka form, he doesn't have dogs or cats.
He has a thing for reptiles and amphibians. His pet collection features more than 30 frogs, toads and geckos. They are exotic and colourful and he takes special care of them by feeding them fruit flies. These aren't just any fruit flies, of course. He specially breeds them to be flightless.
If all of these unique occupations weren't interesting enough, he also seems to be handy around the house. Because of the ebbs and flows of the photography trade, he's working to become an electrician in the slow times, just to keep busy. He also built his own garage too, along with the help of his son, who is now a carpenter.
You could say that, in Hochachka's library, 'Do It Yourself' isn't just a category on the shelf. It's a philosophy.
"That's what I tried to teach my son: life's not a free ride. You got to work and earn what you want and be a responsible and contributing member to society."