My interest in photography goes back to my childhood, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and you could still buy film for a big Polaroid at the local drugstore. My first cameras were 35mm point and shoots, a 110 point and shoot, and, naturally, said polaroid. My first camera that really got me clicking away had to be my first Kodak Advantix APS point and shoot. It had a fixed lens, but the panorama, H, and C crops were loads of fun. I loved taking pictures while I traveled the world with my mother and grandparents, and that little Kodak took me through my first real experience with travel photoraphy, in France at the age of 9.
But being born in 1989 had its advantages, and one of those was I was the only one who could figure out how to work the borrowed 1-Megapixel HP point and shoot digital camera that we took on a trip to Peru the next year. That camera got me my first 'good' photo, which I fear may have been lost to the horrors of a computer crash a while ago- it was a photo of a llama charging at my grandfather in the morning mists of the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru.
About a year and a half later, my mother got our first digital camera of our own. That lasted about 5 minutes before it became my first digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix 885- my first Nikon, starting a love that will go down in history with the likes of Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and Kermit and Miss Piggy. I remember shooting everything I could with it, buying accessories such as the enormous and costly 64MB CompactFlash cards and a rechargeable battery- all very fascinating concepts for a pre-teen of the budding digital age.
It took another 2 years of casual shooting before I started to try adding an artistic side to my photos as well as starting to learn new technical skills. When I moved up to my high school, Gulliver Preparatory in Miami, in 2003, I began taking Media Studies classes, centered primarily on broadcast media, taught by PhotographyReview.com's own Digital Video forum moderator MJS. In the process of rapidly becoming the school's semi-obsessive compulsive video equipment master and the rising star of the Media Studies department for editing and video photography, I discovered that Mr. S was also a still photographer. He proceeded to teach me everything I needed to know about photography and lighting very quickly. When he got the brand-new Nikon D70, I began to use it extensively and I was hooked on the SLR. I tried an intermediate point and shoot, the Coolpix 5700, but I couldn't get results like I wanted or the same level of versatility. Around this time I joined up at PhotographyReview.com. I placed my order for a D70 kit at the end of 2004 and received it a few days into 2005.
From that point on, you could rarely see me without a camera in hand. I started shooting all sorts of school events, and began a steady stream of lens upgrades, getting my first pro glass 2 months in. By the end of my sophomore year, my photos were starting to show up in the yearbook and other school publications. I continued to learn, naturally, and I have acquired a virtual library of information about digital photography, lenses, DSLRs, film SLRs, and so on that keeps me useful. In my Junior year of high school, I ended up as the chief photographer for the school, shooting all of our sports including our boy's soccer state championship. I upgraded to the Nikon D200 as my primary body the day it was released, and added a D2Hs a few months later. At the same time, I decided to step beyond pro zooms and start getting into the 'big guns' with a 200mm f/2.0 VR for low light and teleconverter for the start of my Senior year. Over that summer, I became the Nikon forum moderator here at PhotographyReview.
In my senior year, as chief engineer of the media studies department, I was in charge of maintaining not only our studio equipment but the majority of the media studies related equipment on campus, making sure our morning show got off the ground every day on time, and as President of the photography club I took a group of young photographers under my wing and began to train them while still shooting all school events and sports. I finished off the year with a 400mm f/2.8 in my lens arsenal for football and soccer, and a ton of great memories.
Since I was planning to enter the news media at the same time as I was going to start college, I decided I might want to switch to Canon for the new 1D mark III, which I did, and regretted. My camera was defective from day 1, and it took 4 months of repairs and a lot of work from my customer relations rep to get a replacement. By this point, however, I needed a working camera, so I took my last D200 off the market and gradually rebuilt my Nikon kit. The same week that I started up at the University of Florida, Nikon announced the D3 and I put myself down on the list. Within a month and a half, my Canon gear was all gone and I was back to Nikon full time. By this point, I also took over moderation of the Digital SLR forum here.
At the end of August, I began shooting for the Independent Florida Alligator, the largest student-run newspaper in the United States, as an occasional photo stringer. After I began ramping up my shooting rate for the paper in late October, I decided I should also upgrade to the Nikon D300 as my second body, and placed that order. After I received it over Thanksgiving 2007, I began shooting for the Alligator on an almost daily basis, covering news, features, and even starting with college sports. I received my D3 on our last day of publication for the Fall semester, and spent my holiday break helping to continue to train my old students at Gulliver.
In the Spring semester, I have been shooting constantly and have had numerous photos published every week, often multiples in one day. At the beginning of February, I was given a position at the Alligator as a Staff Photographer. I'm continuing to shoot like crazy and I enjoy sharing my passion for photography, DSLRs, and Nikon in any way I can. I like to think that I've done pretty well, especially seeing as I'm still yet to turn 19 at the time of this writing (Feb. 2008).
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