OGDEN -- Nathan Caulford doesn't remember the exact age or moment when he realized he was different from other children, but he does remember kids staring and pointing at him in the grocery store.
Caulford was born with a large, dark hemangioma that covered the right side of his face. Severe glaucoma on that side required the removal of his right eye.
According to the Vascular Birthmark Foundation website, www.birthmark.org, a hemangioma is a cluster of veins usually found on the head and neck area. Caulford's is a compound hemangioma, meaning the vein cluster is both superficial and deep.
A naturally shy child, Caulford felt especially self-conscious because of his birthmark.
"I had this huge, dark red, puffy thing covering half my face, so it was pretty grotesque," he said.
Caulford grew up in Harrisville. At school, he was teased, bullied and assaulted because of the birthmark. The harsh treatment he received from peers made him withdraw socially.
"I was a loner. I didn't trust anyone ... I looked at myself as less than anyone else ... it was a solid barrier to seeking social acceptance," he said. Even with seven overprotective siblings, Caulford remained decidedly introverted.
After graduating from high school, Caulford began taking classes at Weber State. He began to take an interest in photography just before leaving to serve an LDS mission in Chile in 1999.
"Down there, I fell in love with photography. It's an amazing place with so much to see, experience and take in," he said.
There, Caulford was inspired to photograph the uniqueness of the region. He enjoyed traveling and meeting people and was amazed by the exotic tropical plants, insects, and animals found in the rainforests.
"When I came back, my goals had changed," he said.
Caulford's love for photography had been solidified in South America, and he continued that pursuit after his mission.
"It was almost difficult to come home. I wondered how in the world Utah could compete for such diverse styles of people and locations to shoot? What things here would make good subjects by comparison?" he said.
He soon learned there were amazing things to shoot in Ogden.
Largely self-taught, he took roll after roll of photos as he practiced and perfected his skills. He traveled a great deal and sought mentors who inspired him to keep learning and honing his skills.
After his college experience ended, Caulford was asked by a friend to join his business as a traveling photographer taping children figure skating. Business grew quickly and opportunities to photograph these events and others came one right after another.
Caulford found tremendous success. He's taken photos at world championship sporting events, worked in the film industry, and met celebrities like Jeremy Piven and Anne Heche.
In 2006, Caulford flew to Boston to attend the Vascular Birthmark Foundation conference in order to take portraits of attendees. The experience changed his life.
"I'd never met anybody who was like me. I didn't grow up knowing anyone I could relate to," Caulford said.
That experience gave him even more confidence and determination to pursue life goals he'd set for himself.
After a break-up left him a bit depressed, a roommate encouraged him to attend a dinner party with friends. There, he was approached by a beautiful young woman.
"She came up to me, introduced herself and said, 'I'm curious to know how you see the world.'"
That statement impressed Caulford and the two became fast friends, staying in contact until they began dating a year later. They were married in the Ogden Temple in 2008.
Margaret serves as a vision consultant for Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. The couple lives in Ogden with their 20-month old daughter, Maya. They're expecting a son in October.
Having vision in just one eye isn't the only thing that sets Caulford apart from other photographers.
"I pay attention to seemingly insignificant details, taking pictures of things most people would overlook," he said.
He loves to take pictures of bugs, plants and flowers in his backyard and enjoys working with people and capturing special moments during important events like weddings and parties.
"I think my contribution to the photography world is my creativity. Ultimately, this is a mode of communication for me."
ONLINE: To see Nathan Caulford’s work, visit www.caulford.com