I started working with photography when I was 12 or 13. I used photography and Photoshop as a way to create scenes and stories with found images, working with landscapes, animals, and beautiful colors. After visiting CalArts, it was initially the community that attracted me. I majored in photography, which is my medium of choice; though I still had the option of taking classes in other programs. I loved having the ability to expand my artistic knowledge–I take classes in film, both in production and history, animation, and graphic design. I am also a math and science minor, so I also take a lot of those classes in the School of Critical Studies. They proved extremely useful in my picture- making process because my art includes aspects of structure, research, and science.
When I came to CalArts, I had little or no confidence in my work. My photographs were based only on aesthetics; they didn’t have any concrete ideas behind them or any deeper meaning. CalArts taught me that it’s not important to make pretty pictures to be published in magazines; rather, it’s important to have a concept and to build a relationship with a piece of art. Now every photograph I take has a purpose. The last two years at CalArts I’ve worked on what would become my thesis–a documentation of my younger brother and his peers as they attend the Naval Academy. I researched the Academy by taking photographs, reading about the school, and interviewing people. I made portraits of many of the midshipmen, which I hope are raw, honest and truthful representations of who they are. The portraits, coupled with text that the Midshipmen wrote themselves, allowed the audience to grasp a deeper understanding about the experience of attending the Naval Academy.