"I've seen the birth of three amazing boys. I married the perfect woman. I've been around the world, a few times. I've climbed mountains. I've failed. I've won. I've lost. I've fought. I've followed. I've lead. All with a camera in hand.

With a love of adventure and process, I'll embark."

-Corey Lack

Wow, what an honor. Thank you to Scott Kelby for the opportunity, thank you Brad Moore for asking me, and thank you Myles for connecting the dots.

I'll try and keep my thoughts in the fairway and out of the sand traps as I drive these ideas home. With so many different styles of photographers reading this blog I thought I'd talk about something I'm passionate about and see if it will resonate with you. So here we go. FORE!

I used to think but now I know…

– Bob Goff

I used to think, “I need that lens…” You know the one I'm talking about? You probably have it in an online cart somewhere and you're just longing for the day you can click “confirm purchase.” You've read all the reviews about it, and looked at thousands of images you can create with it. I had that lens… then it fell out of my pack and shattered on the floor.

I used to think that I needed “that” camera body. The one that can shoot 400 frames per second and has so many megapixels I could crop in and see the faces of astronauts on the international space station. Then it was stolen on a job.

I used to think that I needed to have that light. The one I can use to melt my talents face off if I so desired. The one that made the sun run in fear. Then it was knocked over on a shoot by my talent.

I used to think I needed all this gear to justify calling myself a photographer, and this one hurt: I had to sell all of it to support my young family.

Was I still a photographer? I no longer had anything to identify myself as one except for the random rogue lens caps and broken rocket duster…

This isn't a feel-sorry-for-Corey moment. Just the opposite actually because those are the moments that helped me identify who I am, what I am, what I believe in, and how much more I can do with less. They would also obliterate all my excuses and force me to become CREATIVE with what I had or lack there of.

"Nice gear makes things easier for sure, but you're a Photographer and didn't sign up for easy."

– Someone Smarter Than Me

Let's boil that down into a digestible stew. You with me? Creativity is often associated with art but you can be a creative plumber just as easily. All it means is Problem Solving. I need you to get this. If you get anything out of this entire article get this… Be a Problem Solver. I don’t give two flips what gear you have or how many lights you own. Coveting what others have will put a serious limitation on your own creativity and how you shoot. Don't sabotage yourself. This not only applies to amateurs but professional too. "Well, they have XYZ that's why they can do that!" Translation: “I'm not willing to put in the extra work required to make up for my ignorance.” That stuff is poison.

Wanna hear something funny? I didn't have two pennies to rub together when I go into photography. I had to DIY everything! That just fueled my creativity for when everything breaks around me. I know how to fix it with duct tape and old 2GB compact flash cards. You can't pull out what you haven't put in, right? Too often you want to rush the process and you don't take in the lessons you were supposed to get along the way. That's why I believe so many people fail. When it gets tight, rather than solving the problem you look outward for someone else to do it for you. Maybe you're supposed to figure it out? Invest in yourself. Log hours on KelbyOne learning from others before any situation will arise. Make sure you get out of your comfort zone. Go make opportunities for mistakes and stretch out a bit!

Anything Amazing Happens Outside of Comfort
My first mountain trip was the hardest thing I'd ever done. Hang with me on this! It was 10 hours of climbing that day, and an additional 10 hours the day before packing to basecamp. I'm 500ft from the summit and my body just completely gives out. It stops and I can't go any further! I ungracefully collapse to the rock… My partners are ahead of me and oblivious to what has just happened. I'm physically, mentally, and emotionally DONE! No more and no further! I roll over onto my back re-accounting and questioning the life decisions that had brought me to this exact moment. What the HECK was I thinking!? Who talked me into this? I take in the class 4+ pitch I had just scrambled for what was a ridiculous amount of time and quickly realized in my fatigued mind. There's no one out here that can save me… I'm probably going to die! Keep in mind my total exhaustion and clouded judgment at this point… Dehydration and low blood sugar aren’t a great combo for clarity.

But, I start having this vision/hallucination of my little boys. I'm back home, they're looking up at me and they say, "Daddy what was the top of the mountain like? What did it feel like to walk in the clouds?" "Walk in the clouds?" I say. "I don't know, boys. I couldn't make it… I failed…" I noticed the look of excitement fade from their faces and the little sparkle in their mother’s eyes began to fade. Completely… Utterly… Devastating. I had let them down and I myself started to wander into a very bad place mentally. A gust of wind blew past me sending loose scree into my face and I'm snapped back into reality.

Infuriated is probably the best I can do to describe how I felt. This fire lit inside of me from a place I'd never been before! I rolled over and literally started crawling up that stupid mountain until I was able to stand. I'd love to say I sprinted up to the top but it was one ugly pain staking step after the other until I finally crested the summit. I was met by my tear filled buddies, and this momentous event of my life, this defining moment that would ever change me was met with, NOPE, I don't feel anything… Nothing. The view was great and a few things they don't tell you about climbing mountains. The summit is only the halfway point. You still have to climb down! They also fail to mention you don't get to just hang out up there for as long as you want. Storms roll in everyday around noon and the likelihood of you getting hit with lightning rises exponentially the longer you're on the rock. Anyone want to come climbing with me yet? What was I to make of this? That's a great question. The story kind of depends on you asking it too!

Not every summit is for you. I later learned that my summit was 500 ft below when I made the choice to keep pushing when outward circumstance told me to quit. The actual summit of this mountain was for someone else. My little boys at home, you see? They can look up to their dad telling them all about what it was like to walk in the clouds and speak from a position of authority. That when everything around you is saying give up because it is hard… Don't. Keep pushing! That summit was for you too.

I wonder how many things are telling you that you're not qualified enough? I wonder how many of you are at the trailhead of your own mountain. The summit seems so far away! Maybe you are like me at 500ft from the top. Here's the secret… Take the next step. “Well, Corey you don't know what I have going on in my life.” Nope. I don't. Take the next step… “Well, Corey, I have to get XYZ in place before I can do anything.” Nope. You don't. Take the next step. I've grown to hate excuses for why not or someone else putting their own limitation on what I can do. Well, I can't so you can't. Also, a little golden nugget I found along the way. You know how many bills I thought about on that mountain? Zero. You know how many people I thought about that had done me wrong over the years? Zero. It was a reminder to not make mountains out of mole hills. Perspective.

One last story and I'll let you get back to work. Your bathroom break is probably nearing concern from your other co workers. Oh, I know!

It's 12 years ago and I'm an aspiring graphic artist working as an overnight security guy. It's 3:15am and I tune into this low production show on iTunes of these guys eagerly wanting to teach me how to use this amazing piece of editing software called Photoshop. An application I could only dream of owning at the time. I was using Corel Draw and Paint trying to use the same tricks and techniques these dudes were showing me with the software I had! Geez… 6 months into religiously watching this show I was finally able to save up enough pennies to buy a version of PS that was 2 version old, but I was so stinking excited about it. Now I could follow along and not just make it work, but you see something happened I didn't expect.

I knew that software frontwards and backwards before I owned it and didn't realize it. I knew all the shortcut keys because these guys would always verbalize what they were doing and it stuck in my head. The day I installed Photoshop I knew where everything was and how to use it because of these guys. I learned a ton about photography, how to create a website, how to present a portfolio, and I laughed at how silly they were. The show has been on for years now and to say that it has grown is an understatement. If you haven’t figured it out by now those guys were the original Photoshop Guys: Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and Dave Cross. I'm a product of that show and super excited to have been asked to share with you. I've been shooting for around 10 years professionally and been all over the world with a camera in hand. I've had the pleasure of working on so many projects that pushed me mentally, creatively, and physically. But, I still make time to tune in and remain a student to this day.

I love this quote:

“I’ve got to keep breathing. It’ll be my worst business mistake if I don't.”

– Steve Martin.

You got this! Now go do something significant today.

You can see more of Corey’s work at CoreyLackPictures.com and follow him on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr.

The views and opinions expressed in the Guest Blog series are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scott Kelby or Kelby Media Group.

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11 Comments

  1. I think this may be one of the best posts I have read here! It’s a great story and well told. Very inspiring!

  2. Thanks Corey for reminding an old man of many of the principles that have helped me and many others rise above what we thought we could ever do! Your words inspire and your work proves that these decisions produce results. As a strong advocate of family, I’m proud of you for recognizing how blessed you are with yours! Success has many definitions, but yours is among the best, God Speed my friend!

    • Thanks Bill! We met briefly at Dr. Charles Stanley’s birthday party a few years ago. You look over and say, “That’s a large filament.” I replied, “Well, thank you, sir.”

      I’d be surprised if you don’t remember such an meaningful conversation.

      Thank you for the comment and compliment.

  3. Corey, I’m so excited to see your guest blog up this morning! Your work speaks for itself and your message is inspiring. We’ll talk again soon my friend! Right now, I need to find a summit to conquer!

  4. Love it. Thanks for the support my friend.

  5. Great inspiring story!
    Love the gear talk – from someone who still religiously uses her ‘ole’ 40d!

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