Sara Diane Caldwell

Lookout Mountain

As I post images made from my 2012 Pictures with Purpose workshop, I can’t help but chuckle as I remember the silliness of our awesome group. The below frames were made during a good ol’ fashioned shoot-out. We were given an hour and told to make our best feature images, competing with our coaches as well. I, being a deadline-driven newspaper photog, had all all of my edits fully toned and cutlined long before anyone else. Of the six students, I won 2nd place for the picture of the girl leaning over the wall. My prize was a large Kent State Basketball Championship t-shirt.

Oh, and bragging rights.


Six-year-old Ava Fisher (center), from Springfield, TN, crosses a rope bridge with her father Neal Fisher close behind her at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Georgia on Friday, August 3, 2012.  (photo/Sara Caldwell, sdc@saradcaldwell.com)



Lisa Speakman (right) leans over to look down over rocks as her father Dan Speakman (center) walks away toward friend Rosalie Sorg (back left)  at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Georgia on Friday, August 3, 2012.  (photo/Sara Caldwell, sdc@saradcaldwell.com)



Emily Cozart (center) waits for customers in the gift shop at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Georgia on Friday, August 3, 2012.  (photo/Sara Caldwell, sdc@saradcaldwell.com)



Five-year-old Kole Kusek (center) plays a game he called “Photo Fight” as he peeks around a sign at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Georgia on Friday, August 3, 2012.  (photo/Sara Caldwell, sdc@saradcaldwell.com)



People stop for the view at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Georgia on Friday, August 3, 2012.  (photo/Sara Caldwell, sdc@saradcaldwell.com)


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.


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.

Eyes on the ball

ASU Invitational

Aiken Trials









Checking for chief


Romney Rally

Softball Player of the Year

2011 SEC Championship: UGA vs. LSU


Aiken Hounds

Civil War Tour




Change of Command

UGA vs. Mississippi State