Monthly Archives

June 2012

a shameless plug | by +Elaine

so, you know how I’m not busy enough? when I’m not in photographer, wife, or mother mode (or in any of the various sub-modes), I sometimes run a summer camp for 4-to-8 year olds at our tae kwon do school, Atlanta’s United Tae Kwon Do (ATLU). backstory: my husband and I opened the school right about the time our third son was born, over 6 years ago. (see? not busy enough.) at the time I was running a parent’s morning out program for infants to pre-k’s, and four summer camps each summer for over twenty 4-to-6 year olds. so fast forward to present day, it totally makes sense to combine our wondertwin powers. the result? Camp ATLU.

it’s not all tae kwon do. it’s art, food, community. more backstory: my husband, in one of his past incarnations, was a flight paramedic. so it’s important to us to have the kids meet and appreciate the local EMS (emergency medical services). thus, “community.” these are people who put themselves into situations that normal folk are trying to get away from. thank them. we were lucky enough to have two police cruisers, an ambulance, and a ladder firetruck (“the quint”) come by on different days for the kids to touch and climb. sirens and horns and buttons galore. just big ol’ expensive playgrounds on wheels. the kids weren’t the only ones excited and having a good time.


then there’s the tae kwon do. we take these kids, a majority of whom have never taken a tkd class before, and have them put on a demonstration by the end of the week. they learn about the 5 Tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. they learn coordination and confidence. and to use their powers for good. all important stuff. plus breaking boards is just cool.

I’ve got to say, I don’t for a second regret leaving the parent’s morning out to pursue my photography, but there’s something so wonderful being with the kids again. some of them unwilling to disengage from their parents that first day, then having them not want to leave me to go home on the last day. hugs and excitement and wonder and joy. drama and bickering. kid colors and messes and new experiences. children who actually listen to me and do what I say (unlike my own). how can you not love that?

I’ll tell you something, though. I think I slept for 2 days straight after it was done.

P.J. Johnson {an interview} | +Jo

Interview with P. J. Johnson
Vice President of Savannah College of Art and Design: Atlanta
by +Jo

I am a Savannah native and attended UGA for a Business Administration degree in accounting. I was in the ROTC program and joined the Air Force after I finished college. Originally it was a 4-year commission, but I enjoyed it so much that 4 years turned into 28. I worked in logistics, fuels, transportation and aircraft maintenance during my Air Force career. At the age of 40, I married my wife, Annie. In 1999 I retired and moved back to Savannah because my Mom became ill, and I needed to take care of her. That also meant I had some spare time. I started back to school at SCAD for a masters in Historic Preservation. It was a wonderful experience. What a joy it was to attend college in such a beautiful and historic city like Savannah.

I’ve always been interested in history and architecture. I thought I would enjoy the masters program but didn’t know the breadth and depth the program would take me. There was a moment in the first class I had at SCAD, like an epiphany, when I could see and feel my choice with the program validated. It motivated me more to do my absolute best. It also solidified my affinity with SCAD. My thesis was on antebellum architecture in Evans County, Georgia, and how the building styles migrated into the region. I hand-measured all the antebellum structures and took hundreds of photos for the thesis. It ended up being published as a book where each chapter covered a structure and its owners.

After I graduated, my wife was reading the Savannah Morning News and saw SCAD had positions open. I applied for one of them. The first interview was with Pam Poetter, vice president of admissions and communications, and Lesley Hanak, director of human resources. The interview was more like a friendly discussion about SCAD. It was uplifting and I enjoyed it. I didn’t get the position I applied for because they felt I wasn’t the right fit, but wanted me to try for a different position. I said sure. The second interview was with President Paula Wallace. Again, it was less like a typical interview and more of a great conversation about the college. On January 2, 2001, I started in administration and moved up to become President Wallace’s chief of staff. I did a little bit of everything. I was involved with students, helped manage community relations and oversaw the day to day operations of the office. I never lacked things to do, because so many varied subjects came to the president’s office. It was a new adventure every day because you never knew who would call or who would stop by. Above all, the students came first. Every decision made always supported SCAD’s mission. President Wallace is the most inspirational leader I have known. She always has the students first and foremost in her heart. She has enormous talent as an educator, designer, writer, and mentor. She is the center of gravity for our college and the reason for our success. We all want to take the best possible care of our students. I served in President Wallace’s office for three years. My Mother passed away in 2003, and after that I moved to a position with a firm in Norcross, Georgia. I took the job not knowing the SCAD Atlanta campus would open in 2005.

When SCAD Atlanta started, President Wallace asked me if I would like to return to SCAD.  I said “yes” and what a great decision it was for me. The first quarter of operations here was in spring 2005. It mainly functioned as an off-campus program for Savannah that first quarter. I arrived that summer as Vice President for the campus, and I was thrilled to return to SCAD. We started with 77 students and 7 years later, this fall, we will have 2000+. We started with 60,000 sq feet and now have over 600,000 sq feet of building space. We expanded from 10 to 20 majors. It took a great team to make the success possible. Associate vice president Teresa Griffis, associate deans, staff directors and employees have all been involved with the growth of SCAD Atlanta. It has been a team effort, and I’m glad I could play a role. I predict great things for the future of SCAD. It provides the best art education you can receive. It has been interesting to watch the meager beginning evolve into the entity SCAD Atlanta is now. Most of all, I enjoy the phenomenal student body, faculty and staff. You could have the best facilities and top-notch technology, but what makes a school great is the faculty. They are a very dedicated group. They all have worked in industry and embrace the emphasis on careers. We want every student to find viable jobs and have successful lives. We don’t want to create starving artists.

Did you know Atlanta is the #2 city in the U.S. for art and design jobs per capita? This is a great place to study in and immediately find a place to work in your field. There is so much here for artists and designers. I really enjoy going to events and exhibitions by SCAD and its students. I have a keen interest in seeing and experiencing our campus life as much as possible. You can never tell when you are going to be somewhere and make and important contact. It could be with a student, a parent, or a member of the community. It is a great way to network and meet others in the arts community, and I enjoy doing it. My job is a source of joy, and I couldn’t have a better one. A major part of this position is to experience as much of the campus and city as possible. To do that you have to try to be everywhere and engaged.

A few months back I looked into the mirror and saw an old man, (laughter). Another epiphany occurred. I felt like I had reached the time where I wanted to pursue some of the other interests I have in life. And I have a lot of things that I enjoy. I have a small farm 50 miles from Savannah in Bellville, Georgia, with deer, quail, turkeys, and a fish pond. I’ll be there spending time with Annie, researching and writing, enjoying working with Photoshop and video editing, listening to Elvis, playing my guitar and pondering the truths of life…

But I’m staying close by SCAD. I will still be involved with, and attend events, at both Atlanta and Savannah campuses. I will continue to be a fan of SCAD for the rest of my life.

~PJ Johnson


Paddle Faster

About a million years ago, when I was applying for the LeahAndMark internship, I kept seeing the same foreshadowing sentence everywhere I turned: “You’re going to shoot more in the next three months than you’ve probably ever shot in your life.” And, because Mark is [almost] always right, I did. In the three months during my internship, I blogged 27 different shoots. (Stickler that I am, that didn’t include two more shoots + one wedding that I never blogged, simply because the end of the internship happened SO. FREAKING. FAST.) But then Leah and Mark bestowed Plusdom upon me, not to mention some of the best advice ever (“shoot a lot. then shoot more.”), and I’ve stayed crazily/ dizzily/ awesomely busy ever since. I like staying busy. It’s sort of my thing.

But last week, I took a week off. (Well. Aside from shooting a Yelp event and being spoiled with amazing Mexican food.) And to celebrate, my husband and I did the Babysitter Shuffle, packed our water shoes and blackjack chips, and spent a kid-free weekend away with our friends in the mountains.

We ate too much (shrimp and grits and snails and tails), drank too much (dear pinot noir, i love you), and gambled our tiny young parents’ casino budget away (dear blackjack, i love you anyway). I directed the Road Trip Crawl: “Hey! Antique shop. Need to stop!” … “Fruit stand! PEACHES! Buy local!” … “STOOOOP! Apple butter!”. And most of all, I nervously anticipated the main purpose of our trip: rafting down the Nantahala River.

You should know that I’m probably not a very outdoorsy gal. Or at the very least, not a mountain-y gal. I grew up spending summers at the beach and the rest of the year dreaming of a big city life in New York or Paris. The idea of careening down a river in an inflatable raft, my face at the mercy of the river currents and bone-crushing rocks all around, has not been my idea of a good time since… ever. But. If nothing else, the last few years of my life have taught me to jump in and experience life like never before. So I did- literally. Though with a lifejacket of course. Safety first, kids. We rafted with an outfitter called Rolling Thunder River Company and they were amazing. (And also, possibly nicknamed the Thunder Gods.)

We went rafting down the Nantahala on the most perfect Saturday morning we could’ve asked for. Seriously, blue skies and rainbows perfect. I’d been silently (and not so silently) freaking out every time I thought about what was ahead of me, and I sort of almost peed myself when it was finally time to climb in that raft and, ya know, RAFT DOWN THE RIVER. So we get in the raft. And I’m okay. I’m just sitting there, really. Bobbing around a little bit with the river. Paddling like I actually know what I’m doing. Telling myself that if the eight-year-old kid in front of me can do this, surely I can too. And looking up and realizing, “hey. this is kind of beautiful.” And it was. My biggest regret of the weekend was that I didn’t bring a disposable water camera with me while rafting. (Photographer’s shame, I know.) It was SO beautiful. Perfect blue sky, mountain laurel on either side of us, fog hovering above the water, hummingbirds flying right above our heads. Amazing.

   Then, just like that, we’d gone seven miles down the Nantahala and our guide started with the instructions and reminders about, oh, not drowning: “Lock in your feet now. And you’re going to stay locked in for the rest of the way down. Got it?” Um. Yikes? (Our guide’s name was Skittles. And when a dude named Skittles tells you to lock in, you damn well lock in.) The best part of my Saturday night was drinking a bottle (or three) of Pinot Noir with my girlfriend and dissecting the photos of us coming down through the falls. “Look at my face- that’s Stressed Out Krista”… “Look at Skittles paddling us- CRAZY!” … “Where is Erik going??” … “Aaaaand, that’s when Matt disappeared”. Our friend took one for the team that day but was totally fine. I survived. (Yay for not drowning!) And it was the most fun I’ve had in for.ever.

(P.S.: I promise I’m more help in a crisis that I look. My paddle was totally his lifeline.) Also. Isn’t The Husband cute? He’s making his blog debut this week. Bonus points for him for keeping me alive this weekend.

Almost as soon as we were back on the bus, heading back down to the outpost, I wanted to do it all over again. And I will. Did I mention we’d been back at the mountain house for about ten minutes when the next weekend’s planning already commenced? AWESOME. This is why I love our friends. And it’s also why, every time I look back at our pictures from the weekend, some from my DSLR, some off a point-and-shoot, and some just quick camera-phone shots I clicked off in a hurry, I’m so, so glad I did this.

Now. Where did I put that mountain wine?