My interest in photography began around 1974, when I took a photography class through the Michigan Technological University Summer Youth Program taught by English Prof. Joseph Kirkish.

I had been enrolled in a different class, radio and television broadcasting, but the instructor was killed while jogging in Houghton a few weeks before the camp started.

That twist of fate put me in a class with a teacher who loved photography, and I in turn started a lifelong love for the subject.

When I returned home my father built me a darkroom and gave me his old Exa 35mm camera and a Ciroflex twin-lens camera.

There weren’t many educational options for a junior high schooler, photography-wise, but I was able to take classes from Cary Cartmill, a brilliant Oklahoma City photographer who later moved to Washington state, at the Oklahoma Science and Arts Foundation.

My interest continued through high school under Patty Miller, and in college at Sam Houston State University, under beloved commercial photography professors Emmet Jackson and Hal Fulgham.

After graduation, I worked as a photographer for Oklahoma State University’s College of Agriculture, documenting the research and activities of the college for the Agricultural Information department under Charles Voyles. I loved the job, which allowed me to travel around the state regularly.

In 1990, I moved to Lawrence, Kan., to pursue a master’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism at the William Allen White School of Graduate Journalism. In another twist, my student loan application was lost in the process, and I was forced to withdraw during my second semester.

In 1991, I moved to western Colorado, where I found that reporters’ jobs were easier to find than photographers’ jobs. Although my career as a writer began, my career as a photographer moved to the side.

I still love photography, though.

Not to be confused with ESPN Staff Photographer Phil Ellsworth or my father, Phil Ellsworth