I grew up in the beautiful hills of northern California, gaining a deep-seated but long-unrecognized appreciation for natural beauty. I always loved looking at beautiful landscape photos of different parts of the world, imagining myself there among the castles, caves, snow-capped mountains, and forest streams. I had the privilege of traveling quite a bit during my childhood, and I always loved taking as many great photos as I could during those trips. Although I took thousands upon thousands of photos, the thought that I might ever call myself a "photographer" never even crossed my mind.
I spent most of my childhood on my computer either playing video games or learning how to manipulate photos in various software. By teaching myself how to use Photoshop and the like, I began to learn basic visual composition techniques–techniques that would come in handy once I began to really dedicate myself to photography in college.
I earned a BA in Philosophy with an emphasis in Religious Studies from Chapman University. I don't even bother trying to spin that off as somehow related to photography, but it did help me to better understand myself, others, and the world around me. I bought my first DSLR in college, and photography quickly became the only way I spent my free time. After graduation, becoming a professional photographer was really the only option for me. It was the only option not in the sense that it's difficult to find a job with a degree in philosophy (although it is), but in the sense that doing anything other than photography would have felt inauthentic. Photography is not just what I do; it's who I am.