Corina Barnick is a surfer and 35mm photographer who works with RVCA and Sanuk, among others. She’s passionate about travel but loves her native California and is pushing the envelope on surf brand environmentalism. Take a look at our chat with Cori and her wise words on how to stay stoked and keep getting better.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into surfing?
I’m a surfer and film photographer living in Long Beach, CA, but I’m originally from California’s Central Coast. I grew up in a pretty rural area that’s filled with lots of open space and beautiful wilderness. It was a magical place to grow up and is still so wonderful to get to visit, but I moved to Southern California about ten years ago in search of better waves (and warmer water).
The way I got into surfing was pretty much the same way that I got into most things as a kid – one of my older siblings was doing it. It was around the time that I was in high school that my eldest brother had gotten pretty into surfing. My dad became inspired and decided that he wanted to learn to surf as well and bought a brand-new Robert August longboard. I can’t remember how long it stood in the corner of our living room, shiny and unwaxed, until my sisters and I hauled it to the beach one day to take turns getting sloshed around in the whitewash with it.
From that day on, my life became a whirlwind of surf movie marathons, hours spent lurking in local surf shops, and road trips to visit my surfer brother, who had since moved to Surf City, USA (Huntington Beach). It was on one of these family vacations that my brother and parents jointly surprised me with my very own shiny, unwaxed custom surfboard and, I... was... OBSESSED. After that, the team sports and other hobbies I’d grown up participating in had no chance. Surfing was it.
And from then on, every day after school, with freshly-minted surfboard and driver’s license in hand, I would drive the 30-minute backroad to the beach to surf – either until it got dark or until I got too cold. With time came improvement, new equipment, new friends and community, travel, moving, sponsorship, and dream-like opportunities that I only fantasized about as a teenaged grommet. It’s been a journey and a gift surfing, and I wouldn’t be who or where I am today if I didn’t have the guidance and patience of my older siblings and parents, to whom I owe pretty much all of my current interests. :)
Where are your favorite spots to surf (in the US or abroad)?
Hands-down the dreamiest and most perfect wave I’ve surfed is Scorpion Bay [Baja California Sur, Mexico]. I’ve heard lore of it throughout my entire surfing life, but it wasn’t until last year that I was surprised by winning an Instagram giveaway of a week-long surf retreat at the Scorpion Bay Hotel. It felt like I surfed more in one week that I had in my entire life.
Why does getting in the water matter to you?
Although the ocean is one of the most universal commonalities we have on this planet, when I’m in the water, it feels like it belongs to me. There’s a feeling of intimacy, and it’s one of my most special and irreplaceable relationships in my life.
Does fear motivate you or make you more cautious?
Both. Fear definitely holds me back from doing a lot of things in life – skydiving, going on trips with people I don’t know, surfing big(ger) waves. On the other hand, though, if there’s something I know I want to accomplish but feel a twinge of fear getting in between myself and that goal, the awareness of it actually helps me push harder and further toward overcoming it.
How do you get better at surfing?
Have fun. Think less. Go as often as you can.
What’s the most important thing surfing has taught you?
If you could make one thing better (if anything) about surf culture, what would it be?
I wish the surf industry and companies that profit off of the sport and the lifestyle surrounding it would take greater responsibility for protecting the natural places that are crucial to our enjoyment of surfing. It seems that small steps are being taken by a handful of brands, but there needs to be a much more widespread and in-depth upheaval of the way things are done, particularly in the apparel, hard goods, and accessories industries – and not just for marketing optics. Keeping the environment top of mind is something that needs to become the new baseline for how companies operate and do business going forward.
Where do you want to travel next?
Europe, Morocco, and one of the Pacific island chains. Or pretty much anywhere tropical.
If we’re in Long Beach, where are the top 5 places we must go?
Open Sesame (best Mediterranean food)
The Blind Donkey (best Old Fashioned)
Lola’s Mexican Cuisine (best sit-down Mexican spot)
Prism Boutique (best everything)
Bluff Park for Yoga on the Bluff (best free/donation based yoga + location)
Do you have any mantras or parting words of advice for us?
A mantra that I’ve been reciting to myself lately, with the intention of being more present is, “I am.” That’s it. It can be whatever you choose for it to be. I find that it grounds me and brings me right into the present moment.
Check out Cori's photography @ girlfromupnorth.com