The Creative Spark: Nick Onken, Travel and Lifestyle Photographer

with Nick Onken
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The Creative Spark: Nick Onken, Travel and Lifestyle Photographer
Video duration: 0s 33m 6s Appropriate for all


Is your passport current? We're about to do some trekking—photo trekking—with travel and lifestyle photographer Nick Onken.

Nick was originally educated as a graphic designer but ultimately found that making images with a camera was more fulfilling—and you can see that he didn't leave his design skills behind when he picked up the camera. We follow Nick around New York City as he meets with Cosmopolitan's photo editor, photographs a fashion model, and returns to his home in Brooklyn to share his story with us. We also meet the founder of Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in underdeveloped countries, and uses Nick's photographs as the centerpiece of its fundraising efforts. Then we're off to Guatemala to watch him create his magic.

Nick shows us how he has evolved as an artist and how the business of photography has changed—for example, using an online portfolio as opposed to the traditional "book" that art directors review. He's energetic, motivated, and talented. We've captured him for the Creative Spark series but it was no easy task getting him to sit still.



(music playing) Nick Onken: The more you shoot, the more you learn, you know, that either will or won't incorporate in the next shoot. (music playing) I mean style is everything. Style is why people hire you. Getting to know your camera so you're not thinking about it. I can focus on the creative stuff, and I don't have to think about technical stuff because that's what I'm paid to do is the creative stuff. (music playing) So this is my inspiration wall.

Deconstructing that photo helps you figure out what you like, and you can incorporate that into your own work. (music playing) Photo Trekking was birthed out of the travel photos that I've taken over the last few years. And the travel stuff that you're seeing here, I've never really been paid for. You know, working with charities or shooting my own personal work on vacations or, you know, walk around with a camera, that kind of thing. You never know, it could turn into a book, and that's kind of what happened. >> Nick's photos are the story of Pencils of Promise. In a lot of ways it's also the emotion of Pencils of Promise.

It's going to tell our story going forward. (music playing)

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