How Commercial Photographer Nick Onken Changed Careers and Become a Pro Photographer

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Last night a good online friend of mine – Jonathan Fields shot me a link to a video interview he’d show with sought after commercial photographer Nick Onken.

In this video Nick tells his story of how he became a photographer after starting out as a graphic designer. In the conversation Jonathan and Nick explore how:

  • A willingness to be bold and not wait for permission opened doors
  • The decision to dive into photography full-time happened as an organic extension of his design work
  • A devotion to learning and honing his craft took his work and career to a new level
  • Art and money can go together to create work that is well-compensated but is also true art
  • Becoming a professional photographer opened doors to travel and profoundly changed Onken’s world-view
  • Tapping his gift and his work to give back is an important part of Onken’s life, and
  • So much more

This video is part of Jonathan’s GoodLife Project – subscribe to get more videos like this one.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Trevor Harvey

    useful and stimulating stuff, to one who is motivated to sell some of his pictures. I guess this is the dream of many who read the articles here. I think, too, that to some extent, this is one of the few work-related changes one might feasibly make in later life, as it involves skills one might have acquired and the portfolio of results is what counts, not more courses and pieces of paper and registrations etc. Also, photography can be blended alongside other occupations without having to be one’s exclusive livelihood, though if it were, all the better.

    Incidentally, careers only has two Rs in it. 🙂

  • Fantastic video! I have watched it twice! Nick is very inspirational and I could learn a lot from him.

  • Very inspirational. I am at the point of making the move to pro and this was a great push.
    I am also one of the people who has done photography for many, many years, and has fallen back into wanting to make it a profession above all other passions.

    I have worked for the last 2 years building a portfolio while eating ramen. it’s not hard if you love what you do.
    Making art is a sacrifice, that few are willing to live.

    Thanks Nic and Jonathan for this great video.

  • Inspirational without a doubt.

  • There will come a time in everyone’s life that they realize what they really want. It happened to Nick. If you love art, you will do anything to improve your craft and take it to the next level. It includes travelling to other places, attending seminars and other opportunities. Along the way, you will meet lots of people and learn tons of stuff. You can achieve great things as long as you put your mind into it.

  • I like his view that you can create great art whilst still making a good living.

Some Older Comments

  • Adam Ault September 26, 2012 07:15 pm

    There will come a time in everyone's life that they realize what they really want. It happened to Nick. If you love art, you will do anything to improve your craft and take it to the next level. It includes travelling to other places, attending seminars and other opportunities. Along the way, you will meet lots of people and learn tons of stuff. You can achieve great things as long as you put your mind into it.

  • Jai Catalano August 7, 2012 03:07 am

    Inspirational without a doubt.

  • Taylor Moore August 6, 2012 05:47 am

    Very inspirational. I am at the point of making the move to pro and this was a great push.
    I am also one of the people who has done photography for many, many years, and has fallen back into wanting to make it a profession above all other passions.

    I have worked for the last 2 years building a portfolio while eating ramen. it's not hard if you love what you do.
    Making art is a sacrifice, that few are willing to live.

    Thanks Nic and Jonathan for this great video.

  • Onelifethislife August 5, 2012 10:52 am

    Fantastic video! I have watched it twice! Nick is very inspirational and I could learn a lot from him.

  • Trevor Harvey August 4, 2012 12:39 pm

    useful and stimulating stuff, to one who is motivated to sell some of his pictures. I guess this is the dream of many who read the articles here. I think, too, that to some extent, this is one of the few work-related changes one might feasibly make in later life, as it involves skills one might have acquired and the portfolio of results is what counts, not more courses and pieces of paper and registrations etc. Also, photography can be blended alongside other occupations without having to be one's exclusive livelihood, though if it were, all the better.

    Incidentally, careers only has two Rs in it. :)

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