Good Life Project is a weekly web show that features in-depth interviews with acclaimed artists, entrepreneurs, creators, and world-shakers.  To receive the mp3 version of our shows, please sign up here.

How many people dream of traveling the world, photographing everything, from fashion models to passion causes, and being extraordinarily compensated for the work?

I’m guessing more than a few…million!

And, okay, even I confess to occasionally letting my Instragam-fueled shooting frenzies lure me into the occasional daydream of becoming a globetrotting professional photographer.

For graphic designer turned highly sought after commercial photographer, Nick Onken, though, that fantasy became a reality. He didn’t have a degree or a certification or even any casual training. He didn’t wait for permission to go out and do what thousands with far more training hope and pray to “get picked” to do, while working their way up through the traditional path.

Instead, he just went out and did it. On his own. Onken picked himself and got paid to shoot and travel from day one. In this week’s episode of Good Life Project™, you’ll learn all about how he made this happen.

“I was thinking about my next tattoo and what I would get. It would be ‘Fear Regret, Not Failure’.”

In this in-depth conversation, we’ll explore:

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

Nick also shares what he believes it takes to become a professional photographer and make a leap into a field that so many try to break into without success.

“I would do it for free. And that’s where you find that passion—if you would do something for free.”


Now, here’s my question for you: What’s your dream career? The one you’d kill to live every day?

According to Nick, what drives him and makes him wake up excited: “The euphoria of creating something amazing…What can I create today?”

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, lifestyle innovator, and entrepreneur who produces the acclaimed Good Life Project web show, blogs at, and runs book marketing educational venture His latest book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance was named #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-READ. He has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, FastCompany, Inc., Entrepreneur, USA Today, People, CNBC,, PBS Nightly Report, O Magazine, Elle, Vogue, Self, Fitness, Yoga Journal, and thousands of other places that sound cool, but don’t impress his daughter all that much. You can also check him out on Facebook and Twitter.