A single log burned in the living room fireplace, despite an unseasonably warm morning outside. The tree was lit with bright white bulbs, and around it we sat, unwrapping gifts in between bites of fresh warm cinnamon rolls. Now on my 20th Christmas, the familiar feelings of excitement and joy had diluted down to a slight intrigue. A sweater, a card, these were the gifts that now hid under the tree. With one box left, I gently unwrapped its shiny gold paper, attempting to delay the last surprise of the day. But as I untucked one side, and caught my first glimpse of what lay before me, an overwhelming sense of excitement through me back in time.

The pasta was bland, and the music was loud, but as I roamed the banquet room at my Uncle Bill’s wedding, I kept myself entertained by making use of the many disposable cameras scattered throughout. At age seven, I had no idea what I was doing, or even why, but for some reason, it just felt right. Glimpses of cake, the dancefloor, and of other random snippets filled up the rolls, as I went from one camera to the next, eventually succumbing to a cake induced slumber.

After that first introduction to life through a lens, my interest went dormant. Still only a kid, and not yet to the era of affordable cameras, the activity was all too easily forgotten. Aside from the occasional disposable Kodak on a family trip, I never touched a camera, but then came 2005. Entering my first year of Middle school, my parents decided to gift me my very first cell phone. With a limited number of minutes, and no texting plan, it was primarily to be used for emergencies, but the low res digital camera on its rear sparked an interest long forgotten.

In 2009 I got my first smartphone, and as those camera’s evolved, my photo gallery grew exponentially. From sunsets, to reminders of trips, I was finally beginning to explore that old passion. But Christmas morning in 2014 changed everything. After that first peak, I ripped the box free of wrapping in one single tear, finally revealing my very first camera.

It took me a while to really get going, as the initial learning curve of an actual camera proved to be quite daunting compared to my point and shoot smartphone. And it wasn’t until I moved to Denver a year later that I really began shooting consistently. But, in the two years since then, I’ve become absolutely infatuated with the art of photography. The way it encourages me to appreciate my surroundings, the feeling I get when I capture a moment, the challenge it represents for me to pursue, the nostalgia I feel when I flip through my gallery, the confidence it gives me to share with the world, and the many simple reminders to just enjoy the view.

Still by no means an expert, today I shoot entirely manual, and routinely misfire. At times I'm frustrated by the weight of my pack that I lug with me everywhere, and I struggle to suppress the urge to shoot in inappropriate times, but there's no doubt in my mind that I've captured an obsession for life.