February 8, 2016

Bristol-based surfer and photographer, Nick Corkill recounts bumping heads with a Tiger shark, diving the Mariana Trench and what it’s like to share your passion with your loved one, as part of our UO Creative Couples series.

UO: When did you first discover your love for surfing and what does it mean for you?

I had always loved the idea of surfing as a child, as I love anything to do with the ocean, but it wasn’t until my parents moved to south Devon to run a pub seven years ago, when I got into surfing consistently. I think for me, it’s using mother nature as a tool to have fun. For that time you’re out there it’s just you and the ocean. I love that time to clear my mind, get out of the city and indulge in some solitude; not really thinking about anything in particular.

UO: When did you first pick up a camera?

I first picked up a camera when I was in the Navy. I thought it would be nice to document the different places I’d be travelling to. It was just a bit of fun to start with, but as my travelling became more frequent I wanted to be able to tell a story through photography.

UO: When was the last time you were completely out of your comfort zone?

In 2010 I was lucky enough to get a job as a dive manager of a new resort on a very remote island off the north west coast of Australia. One of our first jobs was to plan and map the dive sites we were going to use for the guests of the resort. To my knowledge, no one had ever dived there before; we were literally jumping into the unknown. Fish, large and small, are normally very wary of divers as the noise of our breathing apparatus scares them away. This was not the case in this area of water. The abundance of marine life was unscathed from human presence so we were immediately surrounded by thousands of different types of fish, including two of the most dangerous species of shark on the planet – bull and tiger sharks. Now I know you have more chance dying ten pin bowling than getting bitten by a shark, but that really doesn’t matter when you’re being bumped into every couple of minutes by these beautiful but incredibly dangerous fish, with your closest medical aid a 45 minute flight away back on the mainland.

UO: What in life gets your adrenaline pumping?

My biggest adrenaline rush still comes every time I head to the beach. You’ve read the weather reports and you have a pretty good idea of the day’s conditions, but there’s still that element of excitement and anticipation. “Are there going to be waves?”… you never really know. There are never two days the same, and there’s nothing like the feeling of coming over the headland or driving round that corner, and taking that first look at the water.

UO: What does adventure mean to you?

Going somewhere new, experiencing new cultures, challenging yourself and pushing your boundaries.

UO: What do you enjoy most about surfing with your girlfriend?

I think sharing a love of something with the person you care about makes it all the more special. Plus, any surfer will tell you that a girlfriend who doesn’t surf will never really understand the connection you have with the water, i.e. you’re late for EVERYTHING!

UO: Who or what inspires you?

Definitely Jacques Cousteau. He pushed the boundaries of underwater exploration. I grew up watching my dad’s collection of “The Silent World” episodes. Cousteau’s obsession with the ocean and everything that lives in it ignited the same passion in me. I’ve never felt as comfortable as I do under water. After years of pursuing the passion that Cousteau inspired, I was lucky enough to fulfil a lifelong ambition a couple of years ago to go on an expedition with film director, James Cameron and National Geographic to dive the deepest place on the planet; the Mariana Trench.

UO: Can you tell us about the inspiration and story behind these images?

I wanted to share something that I do with my girlfriend; this is how we like to spend our spare time. I know it’s great to visit sun kissed, palm fringed, white sandy beaches, but for me, none of that compares to throwing myself into the thing I love with the girl I love, at my favourite local beach. After all, this is where it all started for me…

And finally…

My top 5 surf tracks…

I Thought About You – The Beautiful Girls
Crawl – Kings Of Leon
Stolen Dance – Milky Chance
Burning – The Whitest Boy Alive
Earth, Wind & Fire – Jamie T