I need more Z blocks, said No One Ever. 

Game Boy Tetris

The only consistent person in your business is you. When everything falls apart all eyes are on you.

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Fear and Failure From a Pro.

Canon in the Mud | Jackson Hole, Wyoming Photographer


To say I’ve made a few mistakes in photography unarguably the biggest understatement any of you will hear today.

Hey, your lens cap is on. ah geez.

I thought you got the memory cards? Dang it!

No charged camera batteries? We’re screwed.

Or worse yet… Having to tell a client that you’ve lost all their photos… That one hurt.

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I Live In a Van Down By the River!

“I live in a van down by the river!”-Matt Foley

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How You Climb a Mountain. BUT THIS IS MARS!

By putting one foot in front of the other. But, what if that mountain is Olympus Mons on Mars? 16 miles high and three times larger than Mt. Everest. What then? Now you’re playing with a whole new deck of cards… Mars Cards. Geez…

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Goff was onto something.

“I used to think, but NOW I know.”
-Bob Goff

A girl raised her hand in the photography class I was teaching and said, “I only have this crappy camera and I have to use this crappy free software online to edit photos. I can’t do that.” Her disgust was pretty obvious in her tone. I looked at her and said, “So, what?” Maybe a little too honest, but SO WHAT?! 

We make excuses to justify our ignorance.

I fell into this trap early on too. If I only had this light I could… If I only had this camera I could… You name it! I was fed up with it. Sounding familiar? Are you frustrated too?

I once went on a trip to Burma with the number 3 cross country runner in the world. This guy spent HOURS by himself running. I asked him how he did it. “How do you not just get completely frustrated at the distance you have in front you?” He told me that the trick was to live in the now. Not the future. The now… Deep right? Very uneventful at the time but then I started to think about it. Make the best of where you are. Be content not complacent. All the muck you’re in right now is part of the journey. It’s what will make you appreciate that camera when you can finally afford it. OR, that software that you’ve been dreaming of.

Learn problem solving skills with what you have. Invest in yourself first! 

I Can’t. So YOU Can’t.

Brian Hunter Across Mongolia

People will place their own limitations and understanding on your abilities to do something.

A buddy of mine took on this amazing feat of endurance and adventure. 3 months and 1500 miles he was going to run across the entire country of Mongolia in support and awareness for the orphans of that country. 30 miles everyday with his wife and two kids helping on the support team was the game plane. A few weeks before he’s supposed to board a plan and head out, he’s talking with a potential donor of the expedition when a stranger walks up and hands Brian a business card. He’s a doctor, has heard about the trip, and wants to speak with Brian about it. They shakes hands and make an appointment for sometime over the next few days.

The day arrives and Brian meets up with the stranger. For an entire hour and a half he’s listening to this doctor tell him how he won’t be able to make the expedition happen. “It is physically impossible to run that long!” the doctor says. He’s completely dead set that it’s his job in life to convince Brian NOT to go on this expedition. Brian is sitting there just taking a verbal beating and somehow keeps a smile on his face.

Brian was telling me about this story and he says this: “People will place their own limitations and understanding on your abilities to do something. They think because I can’t, that means you can’t either.”

Man, these words have stuck with me and have become a filter that I run any “advice” I receive through. Don’t be discouraged by other’s ignorance or limited imagination. You were given this idea. NOT them. So when you’re met with those that say it can’t be done, just remember this story. Do you think you can? Then do it! Go for it! Don’t settle for being mediocre when you’re made for more.

Brian went on to run across the entire country of Mongolia and did amazing works along the way. A blister was his biggest injury. You can find more about this expidition at STRONGTOTHEFINISH.COM

Problem Solved

I’m always curious what people’s perceptions are and what causes them to feel a certain way. But how they see you? That’s a tough one.

There was a shoot I wasn’t a part of because the company my client was working with brought in the, “I Know a Guy.” Everybody knows a guy, right? My client was in charge of everything, except for hiring the photog. So they walk up to the “I Know a Guy and ask that he come away with certain shots but the response back from the photographer was “Oh, that’s not possible to do.” My client’s telling me this story and says, “I remembered I wasn’t working with Corey Lack at that moment.” Wow, what a compliment! As he was telling me the story I was incredibly humbled and remember thinking through a handful of scenarios that would have worked to have gotten that shot list he wanted.

Knowledge Bomb

When you are working for someone and become confronted with a problem, don’t bring the problem to them and ask for answers. Bring solutions, offer the course of action you’d recommend, and ask them to pick 1, 2, or 3.

Be a problem solver not a problem maker.


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That’s it. I QUIT!

I’m done. I’m throwing in the towel. I don’t want to do this anymore.

I’ve probably said this 100 times over the years of shooting professionally. I mean it would be way easier to work for someone else and let them have all the headaches. Sure, I’d have to give up making my own hours, being at every school event, going on adventures, building a future for MY children to take over, and not get to travel to incredible places with a camera… Sure I could quit.

I was in a funk the other day. I was sitting and feeling sorry for myself when my wife drops a pen and paper onto my lap and says, “I want you to write 50 things you’re grateful for.” Frustrated I picked up the pen and paper with a little more attitude then what was required and began to write, really hard… My thoughts wandered to “she doesn’t understand what I’m going through. What does she know!?” I mean she’s only been by my side from the beginning. Pity party. Geez! Thinking about it as I type this makes me feel silly. By about number 15 on the grateful list my heaviness started to thin and clarity began to bust through the fog. I realized how small my problems are and how I choose to make them mountains when in actuality they are mole hills at best. Perspective is everything.


Knowledge Bomb

I’m not being preachy here, but I want to encourage you as I have been encouraged. Hang in there! Much like the illustration, you might almost be at that pivotal point in your journey. One more swing of the axe, one more time to say yes, just another day and you’ll discover the diamonds. Don’t give up just yet. You won’t be put into any situation you can’t handle. Also, make sure you count the small diamonds that reveal themselves along the way. It may not come to you in one large cache but gathered one by one along the path.

(Disclaimer: I understand everyone’s situations are different and I’m not advocating that working for someone else is a bad thing, but for ME and MY FAMILY what I’m doing and the course we’re on is non negotiable.)

Everything is Broken.

I have nothing. No website. No power point presentation. No camera or lighting of any kind and I have the most attended class of the whole thing! I’m in big trouble.

Phone rings and I’m being asked to teach a workshop on the Power of Light. A subject I’m absolutely in love with but the icing on the cake for me was the keynote speaker- Joe McNally. WHAT!? I’m in!

The days leading up to the workshop I spend putting together a stellar powerpoint presentation. I’m going to wow these people with what I know. Lighting this. Emotion that. Communicates this. It’s all in there. Finally, the morning of workshop comes. I get a phone call from a friend of mine that tells me the website was down. Sure enough, the entire website had been deleted off of the server and was going to cost $170 to fix it. Don’t ask me how this happened because I still don’t know to this day. I paid the money to have the process started and shrug my shoulders. At that exact moment I get a phone call from the event coordinator frantically asking me were I was. You have a class to teach in 10 minutes about Portrait Lighting. HUH!? I’d been marketed for the Power of Light and this was the first I’d heard of Portrait Lighting. I hang up the phone, grab my laptop, save the powerpoint to dropbox, rush out the door, and fly 25 miles in 10 minutes only to get to the venue and see that they had gotten the class covered. Sorry for the miscommunication they say and I’m told to hang out until my class starts a little later that day. Relieved and a little frustrated I say okay.

Walking around the venue I see Joe setting up. He’s all alone and I have to meet him. I run down, play it cool because I don’t want to be like a little girl star struck by Justin Bieber, and introduce myself. He’s as cool as you can imagine. I tell him that I’m teaching on the Power of Light, how he’s my hero (cool fail) and my class starts in about 10 minutes. He says, “Oh! Maybe I’ll come check it out”. HAHAHA! I laugh and think yeah right. I shake hands, get my picture with him and leave him to finish setting up.

Joe McNallyc

Ok. It’s go time

I grab my laptop and open it up. I navigate to dropbox and download the powerpoint presentation I had uploaded before I scrambled out the door from the office. I suck in a deep breath and begin to compose myself mentally as everything begins to load. BEEP! I look down to a message telling me that file is not supported by your software. In walks Fear, of whom reaches down my throat and squeezes my insides into a variety of balloon animals. This can’t be happening! I try numerous times to fix it and come up with the same message. File not supported by your software.

I’m screwed… Just then the coordinator walks up with a  smile on his face, oblivious to my personal fear fest and tells me good news! “Your class was so popular that we have to double the size of your room. Everyone is excited to hear what you have to say!”


I have nothing. No website. No power point presentation. No camera or lighting of any kind and I have the most attended class of the whole thing! I’m in big trouble.

I pull myself together the best I can and push down the nerves to a manageable level. I walk into the class to see blank faces looking at me waiting for the knowledge bombs I’m about to drop on them and who do I see in the back? Yep. Joe McNally.


I was about to open my mouth and start speaking when it hit me.

When everything breaks around you. You’re only left with yourself. You have the power over light.

I went on to share about the debacle that had just happened to me and thankfully had everyone laughing at the craziness of it all. “And to top it all off”, I said, “Joe McNally is sitting in the back of the class right now!” I went on to talk about how on a shoot everything revolves around you. You control the elements. You manipulate light. The common denominator to every shoot is YOU. Gear comes and goes, lights burn out, technology fails, but you’re always stuck with yourself. Now, they may have all felt sorry for my poor excuse of a workshop but I don’t think so. So many of the photographers came up to me afterwards saying they loved what I had to say and asked loads of more questions. It was the best workshop I think I’ve lead if we’re being honest. Ha!

I met up with Joe McNally later that night and he congratulated me and said that I did great job at keeping everyones attention for 45 minutes. He went onto say especially for pulling it out of you *explicit. His words not mine. I agree though.

The take away:

There are moments in your life you look back on and can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous that situation was or what a close call that could have been. At the time, however, you would have given anything to have been teleported away. Beam me anywhere but here, Scotty! Those moments define us, build character, lessons are learned, and our comfort zones are stretched so we can handle more later. Don’t run away from them. Bull your way through and evaluate the lessons learned on the other side. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it.

When everything breaks you’re always left with yourself.


You’re not very good at this…

I walk into my interview with a pathetic representation of my work, a little nervous because this was the first time I’d ever shown it to anybody. I wanted so badly to become a working artist and this was my opportunity.

I shake hands leaving a wet reminder of the greeting on his hand from my sweaty palm, we exchange pleasantries, and I lower myself into the seat all the while gripping my three ring notebook folder. I hand over my future to the man sitting across from me and watch his eyes glaze over turning the pages. All of a sudden he looks up at me; eyes wide and says, This is the most amazing work I’ve ever seen, Corey! How have you not been scooped up by cutting edge agencies? You’ve got to start right away! I know you are applying for an entry level position but with work like this… You’re senior designer material. Can you start out at making $100,000 a year? I snap back into reality with the the sound of his voice… I had been day dreaming about a miracle that I was hoping for but instead I get:

“You’re not very good at this. Make sure that you’re gifted in this and are not just in love with the idea of doing it.”

It look me a second to process what had just happened. I had been flying high on hopes and dreams and a meteor shower of reality hammered me back down to earth. I was crushed… I can only imagine the site of me sitting across the table. I had no idea what to say. I just wanted to get out of there as fast as I could and begin to nurse my wounds.

Knowledge Bomb:

As do most doses of reality go, you’re left with two choices: lower your head and give up, OR Lower your head and push through.

I’d like to say that this was the only experience of hearing that I wasn’t qualified or good enough for a specific job, but each time I used it as fuel to dig in and become better at my trade. Here’s the take away: Remain a student to your craft. Be a problem solver. Become better with every critique. Learn to accept critiques and not puff up like a blowfish when you hear negative remarks towards your work. You may not be everyone’s cup of tea, ya know?! And that’s ok.

What can you learn today to make you better for tomorrow?

-I’m sure someone famous has said that before.

It took some time of me improving, but eventually I started receiving phone calls from this man’s office to do work for them.

Prepare the way . It will come.

When I first got into graphic design I had zero dollars to my name to invest into becoming a designer. I would drool over this amazing piece of technology they called “Photoshop” and dreamed of all the award winning design pieces I could create within it (I may have been a little delusional).

I didn’t realize it at the time but I was going to learn a valuable lesson about what it meant to start preparing the way.

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The Lacks Northwest Adventure

Corona Arch

After a 2 mile hike through the desert we make it to the Corona Arch in Moab, Utah.

Lacks Northwest Adventure

We parked our car at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone located in the Northern area of Yellowstone National Park. Since dogs are not allowed on the pathways in Yellowstone, we had to leave Max, our 85lb Australia Shepherd/Blue Healer mix, behind to wait in the car.

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Kelly Ford CD on iTunes

Singer Kelly Ford

My goodness this music is so good. I’m listening to it right now as I write this. Everything came together so well for this shoot and CD cover design. Please Please Please go check it out on iTunes and buy it. Gift it. Whatever. Just make sure you get a copy. It sounds almost as if he’s singing it in that empty church because the acoustics are off the walls. iTunes link

Cover design by Hampton Creative just amazing people.

A Boys Desire for Adventure.


The 5 of us have been hiking for 1.5 miles to check out this waterfall and we finally arrive. I lift my two year old son off my shoulders and assess the scenery. I need to get down close to the water to get the best photo I convince myself. The water is 200’ beneath us and I’ll have to navigate some scurry and boulders. No big deal! I do this kind of thing all the time. I make it down and snap a few photos, but when I make my way back up to the top my oldest son, who’s 9, has that longing look on his face. Dad? He says. Can I go down there too?

My immediate answer was NO WAY! It’s dangerous. BUT, as I look at him I see the deep desire for adventure that every boy needs. I say yes reluctantly and sit him down to go over the rules. You step where I step, keep low, and try not to kick any rocks loose. He nods understanding.

We begin our way down excitement abounding. He slides once but I put my hand in front of his foot and stop him. I see the rush of adrenaline flood into him and smile. We make it down to the water and our mission was accomplished, but then I spot another objective. We hike our way up the water line traversing boulders and hopping from rock to rock. Then we’re met by these three large boulders that lead into the middle of the waterfall rapids. I turn around and say lets go for it and jump to the first boulder. I look back and extend my hand out and he jumps to me. His eyes are the size of saucers and a huge smile on his face. Get low! I yell over the noise of the waterfall. I jump to the next one. Come on! I reach out my hands again and he jumps to me. Last one! We’re nearly in the middle of the waterfall rapids and I jump. You can do it! Done.

There’s a rule at my house. You may never touch Dad’s cameras. I reach into my camera bag, pull out my camera, and tell my son. You worked for it you deserve to take the pictures. Speechless. He grabs my camera, turns and begins to snap photos of the waterfall. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of my son than at that moment.


And here is a photo he shot.


He handed the camera back to me. I stowed it away and took one last look before we made our way back to shore. In getting back to the rest of the family we did a four point climb up a rock face and ended up 500’ above where we started. Adventure!

Everything in me wanted say no, but then I realized it’s my job as his dad to show him the way…

How I got the Shot: Confessions: Animal Hoarding

My feet squish in rabbit urine and feces with every step I take throughout the ‘home’ and the 6 inch hay barrier that covers the floor is due for another layer because you’re now able to see the rotten carpet peaking through some thin spots.

This can’t be healthy, I think. I’ve been surrounded by 250 rabbits for the last six hours, the smell of ammonia is overwhelming, and I’m just waiting in it.

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I was going to fail…

I fall to my knees in utter exhaustion unable to breathe due to altitude and my legs no longer seemed to work which on a mountain climb is kind of important! We had been climbing for about 10 hard hours already and I look up to see I’m still at least 1000 feet from the summit. Ah Geez…

I was defeated… I can’t do it! I wasn’t going to make it. At that moment of fatigue and weakness is when negative thoughts and ideas flood your conscious and try to take over. You can’t move! A helicopter is going to have to come get you? You’re going to have to be carried out? It’s your fault! You’re a burden! You’re not good enough! You’re going to die up here. It was so loud but so quiet around me. I was completely alone…

Then mental images flash in front of my eyes and I see myself looking down at my boys and them looking up at me asking, “Daddy, what was the top of the mountain like?!” They were so eager to hear about it! But, my heart sank and I said to them “I don’t know. I couldn’t make it. I failed.” They lowered their heads saddened by my news. I felt so terrible. I’m their father and I let them down… I’ve never felt worse then what I did right then…

But then something unexpected happened I began to feel so enraged by this. I will not fail, I yelled at myself. I will not stop, I will get to the summit of this mountain, I will show my sons what it’s like up there. I snap back into reality fueled with furry and determination and with one foot in front of the other and one hand in front of the other I start to climb on all fours.

When I round the ridge and see my friends waiting there for me and a flood of emotion overtake them. I made it to the top!!! I did it!!! But, what should have been a HUGE accomplishment wasn’t. I didn’t feel anything. The view was great, but where was my triumphant moment?

It took me until the next day driving back home to process what had happened. You see my summit on that mountain wasn’t at the top it was 1000 ft below when I made the choice to keep going. When everything was telling me no. When things got hard I didn’t give up. I wasn’t going to fail and let my family down.

I’ve been able to share this story with a lot of men so that it would encourage them to not give up when challenges come but to lower their head and push through. Your problem may seem the size of a mountain but you can make it to the top of it with one foot in front of the other. Sure, there may be some pain and discomfort involved but you can do it.

For me, what problems seemed huge before the mountain became very small when I got back home. Now, when I see mountains I envision myself on top of them.