Pixels

Sara Diane Caldwell
Documentary

Stacy’s Story

Jeanne

When will I have all of my Pictures with Purpose images up? Short answer: “Um.” Long answer: “I don’t know.”

I’m reworking them as I sift through folders and edits, and it’s also nothing timely (obviously). So, without the threat of a deadline, I’m probably working slower on these images than I should be. So in case I haven’t bored you with my inconsistencies, here are a few frames of a sweet, wonderful woman named Jeanne Crawford. Jeanne’s relatives discovered Ruby Falls, and her family is buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery (where the majority of my images from the workshop come from). Jeanne owns a little souvenir shop, filled with trinkets and gagets all about Rock City and Ruby Falls. I’ll have a post with some frames made at the shop, but I was way more interested in her careful eyes than any kitschy doodad for sale. We spent some time together, and I asked all about her life. The conversation was kind, but I could tell she was holding back. Keeping me at arm’s length. She was nice to me, yeah, but she wasn’t all that sure of the loud blond girl talking a mile a minute, who also happened to have two cameras slung over her shoulders and a notepad tucked into a shorts pocket. First meeting, I learned a lot about her. I asked the easy questions. I met her a few days later at the cemetery for a makeshift family portrait, setting her up near the graves. I still felt her holding back, so I boldly asked if I could go to church with her on my last day in Chattanooga. She was very open about her faith, and I wanted to capture that side of her, so I asked to tag along. This time I was fully prepared to ask the hard questions. I showed up at her doorstep at 8am with coffee. She made me breakfast, and while the woman I had met earlier in the week was hesitant to have me around, the woman laughing with me over cinnamon buns was different. She held my hand when I told her about my life, my struggles. I was moved to tears when she handed me a Bible with a handwritten note, telling me how my smile had helped her find her joy again. And for all that I was personally dealing with in the moments as I sat with her, I kept crying as I shared about my own heartbreak. I didn’t photograph these moments, these tears. I knew so much of my workshop was about making honest connections with the people I meet while I have a camera in hand. And I knew that if I had clicked, I would’ve lost her. She was trusting me. She needed me more than I needed to make a picture. I knew this instantly, but the reward in our connection shows in the images I make of her at church. I was her friend in tow, and she didn’t flinch at my shutter anymore.

We email sometimes. She checks in to see how I am. I do the same. I’m so happy to have met her.

Karien

This is from a Saturday I spent driving around a cemetery. After a few turns down windy paths, I parked my car and chose to walk throughout the grounds. I looked up to see my Pictures with Purpose Workshop coach standing with a woman, who was by a grave. LaBelle motioned me over ever so subtly with a careful wave of his hand, which (in body language terms) was screaming “GET OVER HERE NOW.” And that was how I met Karien.

She stood out for many reasons –her laugh was boisterous  to say the least– but when I approached her I realized she was trimming the grass near her son’s headstone with a pair of scissors. She told me she trims the grass here almost every weekend, but not usually with anything like that. The battery died in her hand-held clippers.

She has such a powerful story, one of severe loss and sadness. But the woman I met was happy. She’s at peace with the loss of her son; she’s even willing to see the girl who murdered him. She wants to hold her, comfort her, and tell her she’s forgiven.

 

Yes, I made these frames almost 8 months ago. It’s terrible how long it’s taken me to publish them here, but maybe I wasn’t ready yet. In the time that’s passed since meeting Karien, I know I’m at peace with everything I was coping with at the time she and I shared a few moments in St. Elmo. Of course, I realize the sadness I was struggling with compared very poorly, side by side, to this strong woman’s losses, but sharing her story with me helped punch me in the face with perspective.

I just chatted with a college friend of mine, doing the back and forth you do when you catch up on each other’s lives.  Here’s a blurb from our gchat:

me: … it’s hard to really explain, but I’ve got a feeling about this year.
I kinda love Augusta now?
And I’ve finally realized just how much potential I have here. I’ve got a boss who helps me, who lets me try new ways to tell stories
So I’m running with it, really trying to be more thoughtful with my images
 Sent at 4:28 PM on Monday
    …
 Marlyncia:  From what I can see, I think you’re doing an amazing job.
 me:  Thank you! I feel good. I like life. I love my friends. I have good days, and bad, but that’s just I think it all goes.
I say we plan a girls weekend.
And go see Josh Groban
 Sent at 4:38 PM on Monday
 Marlyncia:  I dig that. Same for me. Only up from here, right?

Right. Only up from here. And here’s still pretty good.

More to come.

Friendly Flyers

The Sunday after covering the 2012 SEC Football Championship game between The University of Georgia and The University of Alabama, I was exhausted. I was sprawled on the couch of my parents’ living room, when my dad walked over to me and said, “ready to go?”

My parents live about 45 minutes from downtown Atlanta, and I crashed in a guest bedroom for the weekend. The Chronicle sent me (I actually begged to go) to a conference that Friday (which I trekked to super early and didn’t get back to the house until late, thanks ATL traffic), reporters picked me up at the Conyers I-20 exit Saturday mid-morning for our SEC coverage adventure (I finished my final round of edits at 2am), and I chose to sleep most of that Sunday morning.

So when my father walked over to me, rambling about a remote-control airplane field and how he wanted to show it to me, I only had enough energy to stare.

But since my father had asked me so nicely, and I could tell the afternoon had the potential to be one of those father-daughter-bonding-times, I grabbed my cameras, stuffed my pockets with memory cards and got in the car.

The last thing I wanted to do was make a picture. On the short drive to wherever this field was, I mentally said to myself “Don’t even get your cameras out of the car. Just take a walk with Dad, look at the planes and come home for a nap.” I wasn’t feeling well at all, figuring the achy back and overwhelming exhaustion was from my busy last few days (turned out actually to be Mono, ya’ll), so naturally, taking a nap was my top priority.

Well.

Scroll down. Below are a few frames from my two visits (that’s right, I went back) to The Friendly Flyers remote-control airplane field in Jersey, Georgia. I also have this link to the short picture and audio story.

It was dumb of me to think I wouldn’t make a frame. As I walked over to the gaggle of good ol’ countrymen, I heard their laughter. I watched their eyes sparkle over their hobby. And I watched mid-afternoon winter light wrap around gentle faces.

Enjoy their story, because man, I sure did.

Motivation needed

Multimedia


A Splash of Sun

Red

Justin

The walk

Halters

This Semester

So, I’ve finally decided on a blog topic for this semester. For those of you who followed me in the fall, I shadowed The University of Georgia’s Army ROTC program. I got some great pictures, and ultimately put together a great project, but the best part about the experience was that I met some amazing people.

Now, I’m in Documentary Photography (still in the photojournalism emphasis), but I needed to come up with a new, different topic. And while, I really enjoyed my Army stuff…I cannot fit it into my schedule this semester. So, I’ve decided to fall back on something I’m already incredibly comfortable with.

Horses.

Every Monday and Wednesday, I’ll be at the barns on South Milledge, riding and training in my horsemanship class. I don’t really know how I got into this class, since I’m one of the rare Grady-College impostors in what’s usually considered a class full of Agricultural students, but I’m pretty excited. I’ve been riding and training horses for the past 12 years, and since I’ve started college, I haven’t really had the opportunity to ride like I used to.

This is my chance, and I can’t wait to get started. And more importantly: I can’t wait to share it all with you. Next week we’ll be getting our horse assignments, and I’ll have images up ASAP.

But until then, here’s an image I snapped in the middle of JOUR5370 yesterday. For some reason, that class was seriously buzzing. It was fun, and while Mark was taking pictures of the door, I started taking pictures of him. And then I think Frances started taking pictures of me?

Eh, it’s life.

Documentary project: complete

It’s done.

The University of Georgia’s Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion taught me a lot this semester, and I’m really going to miss spending time with the cadets.

Thursday night, I laughed with my roommate as we discussed all the events I covered for the ROTC students. I woke up early, went to PT, stood in the dark while people did sit-ups as I waited for the sun to rise, ran from sprinklers at the Intramural Fields, dredged through mud, rushed away from classes to meet them across town…

Whether they were marching in a parade or finishing simulations, I was there.

Once it was all finished, the realization that I wouldn’t be joking around with my new group of friends hit… I’ll admit I was pretty bummed.

Shake Down

-On Thursday, September 30, 2010, the University of Georgia’s Bulldog Battalion of the Army ROTC program spend time preparing for their upcoming Field Training Exercise on the Grady Lawn on campus at the University of Georgia, in Athens. The cadets left at 0600 on Friday, October 1, 2010 for the weekend-long exercise at the Ranger Training facilities in Helen, Georgia. (Photo/Sara Caldwell, Sarapicco89@gmail.com)

Flag Football

On Monday, September 20, 2010 at the Intramural Fields off East Campus road in Athens, Ga, the Army ROTC Flag Football team played against a rival team on field 6. Army lost the game. (Photo/Sara Caldwell, Sarapicco89@gmail.com)

In Remembrance

On Friday, Sept. 10, 2010, the Army ROTC presented the colors at a 9/11 Memorial service hosted by the University of Georgia’s student government association on campus in Athens, Georgia. 2,977 small flags were placed on the lawn to represent each of the lives lost during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. (Photo/Sara Caldwell, SaraPicco89@gmail.com)

Shaking the Fog

If you’re going anywhere in the glorious state of Georgia–or anywhere in the South– for a photography assignment, I highly recommend you arrive at your destination by at least an hour before your optimum light appears.

Why?

Humidity.

There’s nothing more frustrating than sensing that perfect moment and suddenly realizing you cannot get the shot. An picture spied through a foggy lens is a no go, my friends.

Luckily, the early morning Athens, Ga. humidity did not get the best of me while I was working before dawn today. I met Lt. Col. Fickel at 0530, and by sunrise, my camera was working as hard as his Army ROTC cadets.

Where were you this morning? If you were wasting your time sleeping, you missed a beautiful sunrise.

-On Monday, August 30, 2010 the University of Georgia’s Army ROTC cadets started their 2 mile run near Oconee Heights Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia. The cadets started the physical test at 0530, and started the run close to 0730. (Photo/Sara Caldwell, SaraPicco89@gmail.com)

UGA Army ROTC