Atrium Magazine (Ohio University)

Now that the print copy is finally out I can talk about my recent experiences working on two assignments for Atrium Magazine, the publication for alumni and friends of Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions.

A while back I got connected with Jody Grenert, the man behind the magazine. He asked me to create a graphic for the cover and to illustrate a story about a new department within the college. I had a blast, it worked out well, I liked working with Jody, and everything was just peachy.


I think it went to my head.

For the next issue I was asked to illustrate two stories, one of which was the cover story on the growth of online education within the college. I had vague mental images of what I felt were fairly cliche illustrations of a classroom and a home computer connected by some cloud of knowledge. I wanted something better, bolder, and less predictable.

During the brainstorming phase I had dinner with Rob Griffith, a old friend from high school. His immediate response was to do something to the effect of a wise man on a mountain top. My concept became “even the guru on the mountain top has something new to learn, and doesn’t need to leave his mountain top to learn it!” Now all I needed was a mountain and a guru.

I headed off to West Virginia to meet up with my friend Liz. Liz and her boyfriend Chris have helped out on a couple of earlier photo shoots, and if there was anyone crazy enough for this project it would be her.

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I did a little homework (emphasis on “a little”). The weather forecast was mostly clear, with highs in the low 40s. What I stupidly didn’t consider was that a “high of 40” did not mean it would be 40 on top of a mountain, and certainly not at 8am when I had scheduled the shoot. Morning light and all that, you know.

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Long story short: I trudged out to the location (the last mile of road was closed due to snow) only to realize I’d left the one and only prop (my laptop) in the car. A couple of hours and six miles of hiking with my gear later I had the shots I wanted, as best I could do in windy 28F snowy conditions, at least. Got back to the car to discover a nail in my now flat tire. Got caught by blizzard and stranded at a friend’s cabin for a couple of days. Big drama, lots of fun… in hindsight.

Fortunately Liz brought a colleague along who was happy to be my assistant / sandbag.

The final cover and story:


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For the other story – on multidisciplinary work – I thought it would be brilliant to have six or seven models, each with their own “profession’s” props to shoot a concept on which my client was, let’s say, far from convinced. I wanted to be more illustrative, more conceptual, rather than a more literal approach.

There is at least one glaring goof in this photo – see if you can spot it. (I’m talking about props, not photographic mistakes, so the peanut gallery can just hush about any of those flaws you may see.)

The compromise, and one example of why I like working together on a team, was to also photograph more traditional settings – students actually doing the work they do – and I think the combination works pretty well.

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Hopefully for the next issue I will keep my budget in mind and not spend more driving all over the place getting the shots than I actually get paid for the job. It was, at least, a fun lesson to learn.

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