I grew up around cameras. I have my father and grandfather to thank for it. I received my first camera in middle school and I remember my parents complaining that I went through rolls of film too fast.
In my senior year of high school I worked at JCPenney’s Portrait Studio for two years where I learned how to work with people and come up with poses under time pressure.
In 2005, I attended an all photography school called Hallmark Institute of Photography in Massachusetts. There I learned the technical, artistic and business aspects of photography. At the end of the year it was required to create a portfolio that was to be judged by three successful, professional photographers who didn't know the students. One of them commented as they looked at mine, "it is evident that you make your clients feel comfortable in front of the camera." They scored my portfolio in the top 10% of my class. At graduation, I received an award of excellence for that accomplishment.
Upon graduation in 2006, I worked for Lifetouch (http://www.lifetouch.com) for a year. There I received an award for being a National Finalist in the “Expressions on Underclassmen” category (meaning, I could get people to smile).
I have been operating my own business since 2006. Photography is not just a job for me. It is a part of me. I never stop documenting and consider it an honor whenever I am asked to do so.