Phil Schermeister was born in the Midwest and grew up on the plains, where the simplicity of the landscape and the directness of the people still influence his work.

Schermeister first picked up a camera in college while working for the school newspaper. He quickly became fascinated with capturing people's emotions and personalities.

After graduation, he headed to Kansas to work as a newspaper photographer for six years. He then moved to California and set up shop as a freelance photographer, landing his first job with National Geographic for an assignment on San Francisco's Chinatown.

His work has taken him across North America, photographing such subjects as the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, the Pony Express Trail, and the Cherokee Indian Trail of Tears. He now has a wide variety of editorial and corporate clients and concentrates much of his editorial work on environmental issues in California and nationwide.

Schermeister has completed several books for National Geographic, including Range of Light: The Sierra Nevada Mountains and Guide to Outdoor America: The Far West.

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