Browsing Tag

Atlanta Documentary Photography

Paralee Whitmire | The Interview

Paralee Whitmire is – and she’s our friend. She’s also an Alumni Intern, having been a member of†Season One of our Internship. Honestly? Paralee was an Intern with us before we even started the internship. More importantly – she’s impossibly awesome, and ridiculously amazing. – Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon


I felt really guilty leaving the public school education system. I felt like I was a pretty good teacher and I was abandoning the kids. I felt really bad about it.

Iím internet famous. But not INTERNET FAMOUS! I get messages from students everyday about how Iím helping them pass their tests. The ones that I get to know are the adults Ė the ones that always wanted to learn a language and tried every program out there, but mine is the one that worked for them. When you get Internet famous, people donít expect you to respond to them. Itís weird. Itís very strange for me as person who works from home, has a small group of friends and a simple life where no one recognizes me Ė compared to the online circles where thousands and thousands of people know my name. Itís amazing.

All of the resources on SpanishDict are free. You donít pay for any of the content. We believe education should be free for everybody.

I would like to be able to do a backflip on a snowboard off a jump and land it. Iíd think itíd be awesome if I could be a full time soapmaker. Iíd like to go back to the computer being a fun thing. Anything on the computer is work for me. Iíd like to make soap.

I taught at Carver high school in Atlanta. It lived up to its reputation as far as being low rent Ėghetto. But the kids were in uniforms and we had laptops, and smart boards Ė we had endless resources Ė but ONLY if you threatened the administration that you were leaving. Thatís the only way you could get those resources. I didnít have anything first semester. No textbooks, no room. They didnít even buy me a cart to push my papers around until I threatened to quit and started documenting what they were saying to me Ė and then all of a sudden I got $10,000 worth of materials AND a classroom.

I found this job on Craigslist. I joined three years ago to write references, how-to articles Ė and it was a dream. I was like, ďOMG, Iím 23 and I get to write textbooks?Ē

I filmed 90 videos of myself. When we first started we were renting a room in an office building in Buckhead. It was just Ďa roomí. We borrowed all of the film equipment we used. Some fancy Sony camera, two spotlights, and a green screen. A really low-rent setup. And HOT.

One weekend we were behind schedule on filming. So I figured Iíd film over the weekend. It was July. I thought it would be fine. They turned the A/C off in the whole building. I toughed it out and kept filming. I was pouring sweat. It was disgusting. I couldnít use any of what we shot.

It IS big. On average, 5 million unique visitors a month.

Being the only employee for SpanishDict Ė Iíve had the opportunity to learn everything. Marketing. Video production. Sound Production. Public relations. I have done more content production for learning Spanish and English than I ever thought I would do. Iíve reached so many people. Iíve learned to ask for what I want. I think a lot of people just get into their jobs and assume that their bosses have the whole thing mapped out for what you deserve, when youíre gonna get a raise, why youíll get a raise. And going from hourly for very little money to now where Iím on salary with health and vacation Ė I had to ask for those. I had to put together a proposal for the things that I wanted.

I was the captain of the soccer team. I was on the Varsity team my freshman year in high school. I got to UGA and realized that I was a tiny fish in a huge ocean. All of a sudden I wasnít even good enough to play on intra-mural teams. We had to make our own Jerseys. Stephens County Lady Indians.

Park Tavern. Dollar beers whenever it rains.

I get to make up my own job title depending on who Iím emailing. Director of Interactive Education. Director of Marketing. Director of Public Relations. Always Director of Something. Iím the Chief Operations Officer. I do everything. Itís really cool.

Thereís a tiny town in Peru called Huanchaco Ė a tiny no nothing town on the beach. I could live there. Second would be Florence. I wasnít expecting that one. I went to Italy after studying Latin for five years. I got to Rome and was totally depressed. Too modern. Too much graffiti, too much fashion Ė too much tourism. It really hurt my feelings. The people werenít cool enough to me. They were really stuck up. We got outside of Rome and people were TOTALLY different.

Florence? We LOVED Florence.

An Orthodontist. I think for the money. Because my parents are both teachers in a small town – they made NO MONEY and had 6 kids. I didnít notice it that much until I was in high school and everyone wanted a pair of these expensive, REALLY UGLY shoes that were Ďcoolí. My mom said no.

I was like ďThis is REALLY important to my popularity!Ē I really thought the Georgia Boots would raise my status. In college I just got smacked in the head with reality and realized that my parents had it right – living with what you have and a job that makes you happy – and having time for your kids.

Our dictionary? Hands down, we have more dictionary entries for Spanish/English than any other online dictionary out there. Not only that Ė we have a huge user generated phrase book. Phrases like Ďcat-got-your-tongueí Ė things that only make sense in English.

I have Googled myself.

I studied for a summer in Spain. We went to Morocco and got mugged at Machete-point. The brother of the Chief of police asked me to marry him. He did get us out of jail though.

I didnít realize how much work was involved in Search Engine Optimization. Itís really boring. Keywords. Link building. Youíre a spammer. Thatís what you are. I was a professional spammer for about a year.

Five Siblings. Elizabeth. Maegdlyn. Porter. Tyler. Paralee. Neelie. I love having a huge family.

Itís all telemarketing, and used car sales Ė at least when youíre looking on Craigslist for a job that has to do with Spanish.

I do so much work FOR Spanish language learning. But MY Spanish has gotten so much worse since I stopped filming myself in the videos. All I do is edit. And work on other things. I never get to practice. Weíre moving to Frisco, Colorado. Itís 20 minutes to Five different ski resorts.

Weíll be there for two months and then three months in Chile.

I have like 12 pairs of pajama pants.

It feels good to get messages from students in far off, tiny countries, telling me that theyíre learning Spanish because of something I made.


Interview & Photos by M. Tioxon


Paralee. Whitmire. Photos. Interview.

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– Posted by +Laura

Happy, calm, focused, ADD, excited, serene, serious, jaded, exasperated, overwhelmed…

What do all of these emotions have in common? They could all be seen on the faces of the attendees of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival 2011. I myself experienced all of these emotions, if not more, during my 2 week stint in Austin, Texas. This was the first time I would attend this amazing conference that brings together the interactive, film, and music industries and I could not have been more unprepared for what was in store. I canít imagine that any newcomer could possibly know what is to come when they sign up to attend; itís unlike any other experience…

To try and give you an idea of the insanity, I couldnít think of another place on the planet where I could photograph Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) and Mike Tyson all in the same day.

Almost everyone at SXSW is excited to be away from the hum drum world of traveling road shows that happen to hit their particular town on any given night. SWSX is a full on 2 week sensory circus of the highest and most fantastic order.

When there, you forget:
1. That you are in fact in Texas
2. That this isnít your true reality. That second one hits you pretty quick when you get back on the plane to go home.

Albeit all the amazing ideas, sounds, and sights that are experienced, itís truly the people that make your time there memorable. Everyone has their own agenda and reason for attending, but they also all share in the notion that they are there to exchange new and creative ideas in their fields and that those will hopefully one day infect the rest of the world in the most positive of ways. And in between those new songs, movies, and movements being explored, you party…hard!

If there is a conclusion to be drawn about my Austin adventure…

As a photographer at SXSW, you are afforded a ton of opportunities to capture crazy, amazing, and exciting moments. I got more of those opportunities than I ever could have expected…and so much more. Thank you Austin…you truly were everything I never expected.

– Posted by +Laura



SXSW. Photos. Foo. Fighters. Tv. On. The. Radio. Laura. Polmear. Austin.