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.



(upbeat music) - [Voiceover] The more you shoot, the more you learn. You know, you either you will or you won't incorporate it into the next shoot. (upbeat music) When style is everything, style is why people hire you. Get 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.

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. Photo trekking was birthed out of travel photos that I've taken over the last few years. The travel stuff that you're seeing here, I've never really been paid for. You know, working with charities or shooting my personal work on vacations, or walking around with a camera that kinda thing. You'll never know. It could turn into a book. (laugh) That's kinda what happened. - Nick's photos are the story of Pencils of Promise in a lot of ways, its also the emotion of Pencils of Promise, it's gonna tell our story on forward.

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