Browsing Tag


What I’ve Learned | 2013

If you want to succeed, you have to make many, many more friends.

You know, I’ve never thought that this wouldn’t turn into something more. Back when I started shooting – while I still had my day job – I was really afraid that I would fail at this, so that kept me going. It was about the same time that Leah was finishing grad school so we were going through some major transitions. I knew things were aligning – but there was always that nagging fear that this would be added to my list of failures.

It’s a constant struggle to balance being patient with always being ambitiously in-the-moment.


Since my son was born – I’ve become much more protective when it comes to family (including our Intern family) – and much more ruthless when it comes to business.†

I’m a fat kid trying to be thin. All throughout elementary and high school – I was a fat(er) kid. Not like round – but I definitely categorized myself as fat and I have deep stretch marks on my arms to remind me.

I’m hyper aware of how things look on the outside. That’s photography. There’s a lot of flowery BS said about capturing emotion but that’s not what I do. I take pictures of people doing things. The trick is getting them to do things. Something. Anything.

The only reason we’ve had any level of success is because of how hard we work. I’m ridiculous about it, and I wish I could work 8 hours straight. But I can’t. So I end up working 3 hours here, an hour there, and then 4 hours after Leah’s gone to sleep. I don’t know how everyone does it but that’s how I do it. I don’t think I’ve really conveyed that to our Interns. The clock has 24 hours in a day. Sleep is first optional then required.

Building your own business has to be an obsession. At least for the first two years.

Balance? Most people need a new definition of balance in their lives. Thirty minutes of love – family or sex – holds a lot more weight on the scale than 10 hours of being stuck in an office. Equal time for different things isn’t balance.

I’m probably unbalanced too often.


The Internship seems so obvious now. It didn’t start out that way of course and even now we have to ask ourselves if we want to do it again, and again. It’s a true internship/apprenticeship. We don’t pay them anything and I teach them more than they work for me.

I know people have different learning styles and that I have a different teaching style. If my style doesn’t work for you then you should probably go find a different teacher. This isn’t a school for special people. This is work.

Sometimes you have to cry.

I don’t know how anyone thinks they can succeed as a timid photographer of people. Go shoot landscapes if you’re timid. Photographing people is about connecting with them on their level while at the same time telling them what to do. You don’t have to talk to boss someone around.

I have a small family and I think I always wanted a big family. So I surround myself with people. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy photographing weddings. All of a sudden I’m a part of the family. Leah has a big family – about 11 times the size of mine.


Three months is the perfect amount of time for an Internship. It’s also too short. When the interns start they all have this crazy sense of urgency to learn everything they can in the first 3 weeks and then ask how they can get better. I usually just tell them to keep shooting.

You have to get all of those obvious shots out of your system. Just like writers and their first novels.

It’s a mind trip. It’s three months of amazing peer support while at the same time it’s three months of insecure self evaluation. You have to learn to control those thoughts and keep working.

Phoenix Children's Museum |

I’m a petty person. I haven’t gotten less petty over the past two years, I’ve just tried to shut up and not move. My natural inclination sometimes is to snap back, so instead I have to just sit there and stop thinking until the moment passes.

I believe in myself and it borders on delusion.

I generally don’t read photography business books. Those ideas aren’t interesting to me and I know every photographer and their mom is reading the same book. I hope they are. We’re able to succeed doing what we do [differently] because every other photographer out there follows the same business plan. We try to play a different game altogether.

How’s that for generic business hype-talk?

I need a life coach.


Posted by Mark

Atlanta. Wedding. Editorial. Photographer.

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.

Iíve always been interested in history and architecture. I thought I would enjoy the masters program but†didnít†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 didnít get the position I applied for because they felt I wasnít 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 Wallaceís 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 presidentís 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 SCADís 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 Wallaceís 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 ďyesĒ 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 Iím 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 donít 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 couldnít 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. Iíll 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 lifeÖ

But Iím 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


Mark Hubbard | The Interview

Mark Hubbard is the founder and director of Renew Social Ventures. It’s a nonprofit, a small business incubator, and a collaborative co-working space. Most important to us – it’s where we hold our Intern workshops, our graduation/introduction nights – and we use the space as our studio. We’re also the Photographers in Residence. – Photos and Interview by M. Tioxon.


I was evil. No, that’s not right. I was always a strange one.† I love the financial world – lived in a part of it for a long time.† And I think thereís people that do amazing work – but a lot of the financial world is focused on itself and that was always an odd thing to me. You could go around a room of my colleagues and ask why they all got into the business, and every single person would say ‘to make myself money because I have a friend and I saw his paycheck and I saw how much money he made and now I want to.’

And those werenít my motivations.† I wanted to help people.

I played trombone.†I was seat number one.† First chair trombone. And some piano.† Some other stuff.† A little bit of piano a little bit of drums a little bit of whatever.

Oh yes.† Yes, weíve had that discussion. †My son will play some kind of instrument whether he likes it or not. Of course he gets to pick and at the moment itís violin. But heíll have to play something.† It definitely changes you.

Typically when I do something, I’ve thought through every single possibility.† Thereís 150 slides, charts, projections – and everything’s mapped out all the way down the stretch.† Every little piece of the strategy has been thought through and you canít find a hole in it anywhere, and I’d win every argument. Iím at that point before I take any real action.† Even though Iím still entrepenurial.† I didnít do that with Renew.†And so the fact that a stage is built.† Thatís really nice.† And that thereís an amazing PA in here.† Thereís a piano on the stage.† And thereís a chamber orchestra in residence.† And a photographer in residence.† And twenty members.† Twenty brands or so that have decided to associate themselves with us.† I mean all of those are ridiculous hurdles and I don’t even know if I actually did anything.

I built the stage by hand.

If you look back, I donít know that I would have thought that Renew would be this far along in just six months.

The day I signed the lease I printed out a little vision statement and put copies in all of the windows because there was going to be an event in downtown Roswell. I thought Iíll at least put them in the windows.† Maybe someone will look and see what I’m doing here.

I had a few calls and several emails that next week. We had a member signed up within the first week or so – people responded very quickly.

I go with ‘Iím a New Yorker.’ I grew up in the Midwest.† Ohio.† Indiana.† Moved here from Manhattan. †It feels like that’s where I’m really from.† Moved here from Manhattan in 2001.† Been here for ten years.

I would spend every weekend in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That was a big thing for me.† Because I lived on the West Side.† Iíd walk across the park and go to the Metropolitan.† Because we had a corporate membership.† Iíd get in for free.† So literally just about every week Iíd be there.

Best City?†Iím an urbanite.† So I love New York.† I love Paris.† So, probably Iíd have to say Paris.† My wife would kill me if I didnít say Paris.

I mean for me personally the biggest payoff is being immersed in art. I grew up† in the theater, I was a musician and my father was a theater professor. Until I was twenty my life was constant art. And then going into finance and shutting that down for however many years itís been since I was twenty. Shutting that down and not having an artistic outlet.† At all.† And my only experience of the arts during that time being from a consumer position. Buying a ticket to go to something.†The biggest payoff for me now would be for Renew to be a thriving socially oriented business place where I could do venture capital work that’s immersed in some artistic endeavor.† Immersed in an artistic experience.† Thatís why it this is important.

I absolutely believe that art changes the way you do your work.† It changes the way you live your life.

Thatís what this is supposed to be. A physical representation of commerce and art and helping people together in one place. They don’t need to be separate things.

One of the trends weíre on the front of is that we are more than a co-working space. Simple co-working spaces are about utility.† And numbers.† So theyíre about providing space at the right price point.† The lowest price point.†Just a place for people to come in and sort of work in the same general vicinity of each other.

Renew Social Ventures is not a co-working place.†We’re a collaborative†working space.

I donít want or really care about finding the model thatís a profitable co-working space.† There are people that are doing that and thatís great.† Whatever.† Itís important work.† But I donít need ten real estate brokers to be members just because I make money off of them. That doesnít fit what weíre trying to accomplish.

Thereís an incubation piece of it that hopefully will develop more over time. †The idea was to build a community of people that were all focused on something larger than themselves. Some thing or things that they can align around – and then have those people collaborate on some overall and regular level.

You have to care about something larger than money. Itís not that money is less important.† Thatís not the point.† Itís that there are also other things that are important.† And in my mind the best social enterprises are ones that have it baked into their business model. The social responsibility is inherent to their business and not an afterthought, or just there for good marketing.

Moneyís not less important.† But if it came down to ‘you know what we could do is if we got 20% of our materials from this place thatís kind of exploitative, that’s not that bad.† But boy, we could make a lot more profit then that would allow us to do a lot more things and that would help this.’ †You donít talk yourself into things that allow you to do more profit but sacrifice the social impact. Moneyís not less important itís just not the only thing thatís important.

Iíve never tried to raise money for a non profit.† Iíve never to put together arts programming.† Iíve never tried to put together various non-related businesses and figure out how they can help each other. All of this is an education for me in a lot of ways.† Iím not supposed to say that. †I’m supposed to say ‘Iím an expert.† Iím an expert on all those things.‘ Never mind.

I played football for a while in high school.† I mean Iím around 6í4Ē so yeah, I played football.† I played defensive line.

Defensive line because you just had to be big and dumb.† There arenít that many plays to run.† You just have to run and go tackle the guy. †On offensive line you have to know the plays and stuff.† You had blocking assignments. I didnít have to do any of that.† Every now and then you do a little stunt work where you move but other than that – go tackle somebody.

I was also a punter.

I got the job because I stood on the 50 yard line and I said to the coach, ‘you know, I can kick.’ This is when I was a freshman in high school. †So the coach says, “All right Hubbard, get over here.” So I had to kick.† He only gave me one punt in front of the whole team.† I felt like an idiot.† And yeah, whatever.† Iím big too.† Big kid. I guess I was on the 50 yard line and I kicked it through the uprights.† Pretty substantially through the uprights. It was a perfect spiral. †PERFECT. Maybe sixty yards or something. And all the other guys were amazed.† I was THE MAN. †I never kicked that far ever again – not even close.

Quite frankly, one of my best moments was probably that first graduation/orientation night you guys did (LeahAndMark).† I mean, I had been in the building alone for a month or two doing a lot of work on the stage and trying to get the space ready all by myself. I had no idea if anything was ever going to pay off in any kind of way. We put a lot of our money into this and I put a lot of time and physical effort into it. Even then I had no idea if it would ever be anything.

So that first night with your fifteen interns and you had thirty people here, and there were flashes going off everywhere with people outside and we were playing music – that was a nice moment.

Photos and Interview by Mark Tioxon

Check out Renew Social Ventures.


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I’ve been ‘Let Go’

As the title of this entry suggests, I’ve been let go from my job. Laid off. (Although I have never liked that term.) It happened yesterday afternoon around 1:30pm, relatively non-eventful and without any dramatic scenes. Basically, since I had changed departments a few weeks earlier and hadn’t ever unpacked my boxes – I grabbed the two of them, walked to my car and drove off – after deleting all of the junk I could from my work computer – mostly loose files that don’t mean anything to anyone except myself – just in time too because the IT guys arrived right after I had logged off…

Of course this isn’t my first time losing my job due to the industry/slowdown/company troubles. However, this one is slightly more inconvenient. Plus I’m not getting anywhere near the same amount of severance. I will say that telecommuting, and being a bit stubborn has helped in that I was paid ALL of my vacation time – even though arguably I wasn’t in the office for almost 6 weeks this year – but nothing’s on paper, and in the end I always completed my job duties. Although not much, the vacation pay helps greatly.

So while there is that initial stress of ‘not having a job’ – I can’t freak out yet. Not yet. I’m waiting on 2.5 jobs to get back to me with an answer so I’ve at the very least got to get through the weekend without freaking out. And still – it’s like red alert around here. Cost cutting measures and reduction. With real efforts towards curbing spending and such, we’ll be fine for at least two months – and that’s if I do NOTHING during that whole time (which obviously will not be the case.)

But I’m awake again today at 4:30am because I feel like I have to keep to my normal schedule… If I do not keep myself busy I will fall into that slump, that depression or overwhelming high anxiety that I suppose some people get after something like this happens.

And yet, we still went to our regular Wednesday night StandUp for Kids outreach – where we work/counsel/provide food and hygiene packs to at risk, about to be homeless and homeless RIGHT NOW kids. And although it’s very easy to become disillusioned with them, with their no action and lack of progress – lately I’ve been working with two youths whom I actually connect with. They live in an abandoned school which I’m sure is quite condemned. It’s been raining a lot here lately and I know the place leaks and floods badly. They didn’t even have flashlights until I gave them a few last night.

And while they may have made some unwise choices such as leaving their parents (which in cases like these is always a difficult call since MANY parents truly are that awful) – they are not like so many of the other kids. At least to me. They communicate. They don’t have that ungrateful attitude of entitlement that many other streetkids present (and I’m not saying that I don’t understand the facades that many have to take on). I simply feel like these two genuinely appreciate the help I give them, and are not taking advantage of the system that to a degree does enable their lifestyle.

Sure they have to turn some corners such as getting their birth certificates so that they can get an ID so that they can get jobs – but that’s in the works… and we’ll see how that actually goes. However until they let me down – but more importantly themselves down – I am left with thinking about them going back to that abandoned school that’s been flooded by the rain, and sleeping there at night.

That was yesterday.