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.