Tyler Coray

Photographer & Filmmaker

You’re a talented photographer and filmmaker. Do you prefer one over the other? Which one would you say you are, primarily?

I mean, if you were to ask anyone at my school, what they think my major is, they more than likely would tell you I’m a photographer. “This whole, video thing, is something he’s just starting,” something along those lines is what they would say about the other half of my work. As for me, it’s hard for myself to really make up my mind right now. I’m a year-and-a-half in, and I came across question-ing myself towards the end of the semester: “What do I want to focus on more? Photo or Video?”

For now the focus remains equally on both. I’ll take both of my studio classes at school until the time I’m a senior, that’s for sure, but what my main focus will be by then, I couldn’t tell you. I’d have to tell you I’m a photographer, and I think that every director would tell you the same. Film is extremely intriguing to me right now. It allows me to incorporate everything I’ve learned in the five years I’ve been doing photography, and apply new things like scores, dialogue, and motion. At school I’ve been getting really positive feed-back so far. Currently, in my mind, I’m thinking film is definitely going to take over as my main focus over photo at school, but I’ll always be a photographer.

“Surf Erie” by Monster Rally. Directed, colored and edited by Tyler Coray.

Tell me about Cornish College of the Arts. It obviously has had a big impact on you, and you seem to really enjoy it. Was it your first choice when choosing art schools?

Actually, no. I guess my whole venture into photography came around the time I left Valencia[, California]. I had lived there my entire life, and then the next minute I was packing up and moving to Seattle before my senior year. I had to do a senior project up here about whatever I wanted, and photography was something that had always intrigued me, so I figured that would be the best bet. I think you know how it went considering where I’m at now.

I fell in love with it, and on a trip back to Valencia during winter break my senior year, I decided to throw a portfolio together for Cal Arts. I basically got told a flat out no. One of those “You’re not quite ready for this,” type of conversations. It really brought me down for a while. After graduating I went to community college for about a quarter. Hated that. Felt exactly like high school. I spent the next two years working full time, but when I wasn’t there I continued to shoot, and developed my technique, and more of my own style. Those two years were all about learning for me, despite not being in school. One day I found myself at work asking myself “What the fuck am I doing in my life?” and decided maybe going back to school would be a good thing.

Photographs by Tyler Coray

So crazy. One spontaneous application, getting over rejection, and it all ended up turning out for the best.

I mean that Cal Arts experience was sitting on my mind heavily when I was sitting there watching Eric, the guy who interviewed me, look through my portfolio.

Fucking nerve-racking, and he knew it. He looked at me and knew I was over-analyzing and stressing. But when he got through it and looked at me and said “Welcome to Cornish, the feeling evaporated. I can’t tell you how great that felt. I think up until that point, I really lacked any self-confidence in my work. That thought of Cal Arts always lingered.

Photograph by Tyler Coray

Overcoming adversity must have made that moment of acceptance that much more triumphant. I’m glad to see that you’re happy. Everything has worked itself out.

Oh, and I’ve been keeping up with your musical tastes through your blog and song choices in projects that prove to me that your taste is pretty eclectic. How much does music affect your work?

Thanks man. It definitely affects my work in certain ways. I think every video I’ve done so far has included music, and I know I need to draw away from it a little. I made the mistake with my autobiographical piece of picking a song before shooting, and trying to make the piece fit the length of the song. I realize how bad of a decision that can be to work with now. How-ever, I really think that music can definitely affect the mood of the piece. I almost love movies more that have practically no score, because when it does pop up, it’s for a purpose, and it’s almost always effective in what it’s trying to achieve. Usually I’ll just find myself listening to something in my library and just be like “Fuck, I want to use that for something.” It doesn’t always work though and it can be distracting at times, but I like to take advantage of it when I can.


I think up until that point, I really lacked any self-confidence in my work.


Your final project was about seeing the world as one large beautiful art gallery. I really admired that. How did the concept come about for that project? It was a very overarching idea.

It was coming down to the last couple of months in the school year, and we got assigned our final project. I had no clue going into it on what I wanted to do, other than that I wanted to collaborate with Miles. Miles is a guy I go to school with, incredible painter and a great video artist as well. I approached him and told him I was interested in collaborating, only to tell me he was interested in doing the same thing. He had this idea in mind of “reframing” the streets, and being able to view art in a public space, and how street art is overlooked all the time, when in fact some is very similar to what artists were doing during the modern art movement. I’d say we worked on that piece for about two and a half months, and at least a month of it was just the initial planning. Picking the locations, creating the frames, developing a narrative, etc. The next month and a half involved going out and installing, filming, editing, re-editing, and really cleaning up exactly what it was we were trying to get across with the piece. We just didn’t want to beat anyone over the head, so to speak, with a history lesson or a lecture.

Photographs by Tyler Coray

Interview/Edited by John Liwag
Article originally published: July 2011