About Me

I am a photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Last fall I wrote about a project called Pimp My Wall, where a group of friends, in the spirit of an HGTV Extreme Makeover type show, built a surprise climbing wall for Greg Kottkamp, a climber and med student sweating it out in Augusta, Georgia. 

Here is the video from that project, which I showed at the Dirty South Climbing Film Festival in Atlanta last week. Enjoy!

Pimp My Wall from Andrew Kornylak on Vimeo.

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Ian Harding:

Pretty awesome video, and idea. I've been climbing a lot myself lately and am constantly trying to think about how I can incorporate it into my home. Also, love your photographic work. I'm hoping to attempt some climbing photography later this season. Keep it come'n!

(05.20.10 @ 10:22 AM)

Great clip!

I need a bunch of friends like you! :-)

(07.05.10 @ 11:52 AM)

Sweet video and really cool wall!

(07.05.10 @ 12:09 PM)
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March 10, 2010 // Random
Thumbnail image for 3350671801_489f383fd6_o.jpg


I often find myself in the carport jotting down notes on my iphone after hearing something particularly compelling on NPR, BBC, or some other public radio show. Here's an excerpt, and I am including links to the original shows. Don't ask me how they are out of order. 

Now could someone make an app for that? Hit record, it hears the show, and saves a link to hear it later. Do it!

In praise of doubt - book [Diane Rehm Show Aug 12 2009]
Creative commons music - Cody and notes - Gnawlage [PRI's The World Aug 21, 2009]
The plan fund microfinance [Tell Me More, Aug 19, 2009]
17 superrich - Nader, only the superrich can save us [Weekend Edition Sep 26, 2009]
The myth of digital democracy [I think this was just my thought bubble, but this Evgeny Morozov FP Story is relevant]
Leanne hanson story on up Michigan [Weekend Edition Sunday, Sep 27, 2009]
Justice (book) Michael Sendel [Diane Rehm Show Oct 7, 2009]

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It all started six months ago, post-pump at Fellini's Pizza with the usual climbing crew. We got to thinking about our old buddy Greg Kottkamp. 

One of the most talented and understated rock climbers the South has seen, Greg was in medical school at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta. The closest climbable surface from there is one of the Atlanta gyms, 2.5 hours away. In the last few months Greg was making that insane day trip just to session with his friends for an evening study break, but now things had changed.

Word was that Greg's wife Katy, also a great climber, was doing her veterinary externship in Wisconsin, and Greg was dug in deep, diligently studying o-chem solo in his Augusta lair, with no time to flip through the latest Rock & Ice Magazine, much less get his climbing fix. 

Now, Greg's a dedicated guy, and puts just as much focus on the books as on a sick redpoint, but everyone needs a break sometime. So after a couple Sweetwater 420s, we hatched a brilliant plan. Greg needed a climbing wall. A pimp wall, fit for a climber who can onsight 5.13 trad FAs off-the-couch, but also one that would integrate into his new lifestyle as a monkish med school gunner. And - the best part - it would be a total surprise.

Katy provided us with some pics of Greg's home office and the rough dimensions. 

Greg's Lair in Augusta, pre-Pimped. photo by Katy Kottkamp

We knew we wouldn't have much time to install the wall once we got there, so we fabricated as much of the wall as possible, knowing we would have to be flexible with how it would attach to the structure of the room. 

Chris Sierzant, owner of the Escalade Climbing Gym was our point man for the wall. Chris assembled the wood panels, which make up the climbing surface, pre-drilled and T-nutted to accept interchangable climbing holds. Kenneth McGinnis, an electrical contractor and veteran climber, also helped with the design, and would do the actual install, as well as any rewiring we would need since we would have to relocate some electrical outlets and lighting. 

We chose climbing holds from Illinois-based So Ill. These guys make some of the best holds out there for training, and have some outrageous designs, including lots of anatomically-themed shapes that would be perfect for keeping Greg's mind on his studies, and body on the wall. Cooper Roberts of Big Up Productions donated some new films, and we would reconfigure the office complete with a Sony iPhone Deck to keep the psyche up. Josh Fowler was set to film the whole thing.

As the word got around, tons of people chipped in to help out. In the end, the biggest challenge was figuring out how to get Greg out of the house on a day when our crew could spend a day in Augusta for the install. Six months later, it all came together!

Below, The Crew: Clockwise from upper left: Danny Paulete, industrial sculptor and hardman, champion climber Kate McGinnis, her husband and longtime Southern strongman Kenneth, your's truly, climbing rep and idea machine Charlie Maddox, and her lesser half, Josh Fowler - a Nat Geo cameraman who can do pinchgrip pullups on a two-by-four.


We met early on a Sunday with a rental truck full of climbing goodness, with Greg safely out of town with the dogs. Greg and Katy were due back that evening, so we relied on Katy to stay in text-message contact with us during the install. Left to right: Josh, Charlie, Danny, Kenneth, Kate.


We got to Greg's house around noon, and got right to work. Moved all the furniture out and cleaned the space. Danny started crawling around in the ceiling looking for structural beams. The big question was, should we make it free-standing or could we attach it to the structure? Luckily, the room was perfect for the latter, and Kenneth and Danny were able to design an elegant, bombproof design with the panels Chris had prepped that would give us an 8' x 11' wall that overhung slightly more than 45 degrees - a perfect home training wall - and still leave space for the stereo and shelving on either side. 


Early that afternoon it poured rain, so we had to continue construction inside. Meanwhile Charlie and Kate planned the post-wall layout of the new office, and we made a couple trips to the local hardware store, for a new fan, lights, a curtain to keep chalk dust contained, and other odds and ends.


Wall up, we were way ahead of schedule, with time to think about the details that would make life more bearable inside four walls (make that five now): pimp iphone deck, shelving behind the wall, new lighting, new outlets, new fan, efficient re-org...


We hit Waffle House while we waited for the increasingly shortened text messages from Katy: eta 2 hours... 1 hour... half hour... Would Greg confront Katy about all this secret texting and blow the suprise? Would the dogs come in before them and tear us apart? Would there be any beer left? Stay tuned for the video to see the conclusion to Pimp My Wall...
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Todd Combs:

That's bad ass. I'm sure Greg will appreciate the stress relief.

(09.02.09 @ 04:46 PM)
Steve Bowman:

very impressive - both vision and stills
just bought a D300s and playing / we do mainly Transportation / Aviation/ Ships / Big trucks/ Trains
You should have a very ready market with a MAJOR library
worth exploring - miles of rubbish being supplied very few winners
I do have a long and good relationship with Corbis for what it is worth !!!

(10.12.09 @ 02:04 AM)

Thanks Steve - I've had a long and great relationship with Aurora Photos, which also distributes through Corbis and Getty worldwide.

(10.12.09 @ 02:18 AM)

Good job guys! Are you expensive? I have friends who may hire you :-)

(02.18.10 @ 07:46 AM)

Constantin- Thanks - probably not the most cost-effective thing to hire us to build a woody. But if you wanted to hire us to do another episode (episode 1 coming soon on video) let us know!

(02.19.10 @ 10:05 AM)
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May 22, 2009 // Random
My son Sam just finished Kindergarten, probably his most important milestone, and here's why: He left knowing how to read.

As parents milled about his classroom on the last day, kids running crisscross for hugs and farewells, Sam's teacher Ms. Sandifer held each child firmly at arms length, staring over her glasses intently at them, imploring them to read this summer, as if it might be the last words they would ever hear before marching off to war. Read, Sam, Read!

It might be the most important words they would hear, at any rate. Read, kid, and enter the infinite world of ideas. Always a companion at your call.

So, do what you learned in K-school, and read something good this summer. Here's my summer reading list. Nah, not new releases or best-sellers, just some that I like and have read or re-read recently. Feel free to add to this list.

The Americans, by Robert Frank - It's gotta be on your shelf if you are remotely interested in photography

Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes - Short, "infuriating," thought-provoking.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson - Will make you laugh.

Once We Moved Like the Wind by David Roberts - Will make you cry.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - Will scare the bejeezus out of you. Such a profound parable of modern darkness that I consider it non-fiction.

Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs by Ansel Adams - This book is like a bottle of 1963 Vintage Port that every one can enjoy forever. Read one example at a time and let it sink in. My go-to book for photographic inspiration.
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Have you read "Blood Meridian" by McCarthy yet? Just you wait . . .

(05.23.09 @ 12:55 AM)
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May 17, 2009 // Random
For my birthday I got... Spam.

This one caught my eye just before I deleted it from my email junk box today. The subject was a line from an Edward Lear poem I read to my son Sam often, called "the Jumblies":


The link, though crafted from a variation of "akornphoto", was spam of course, but the email body was comprised of lines from three different Lear poems:

"The Quangle Wangle's Hat" (3 random lines from the poem)
"The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo" (1 line)
"The Pobble Who Has No Toes" (1 line)

Not only did the Lear reference catch my eye, but this little ditty was strangely similar to a "poetry mashup" I shared with some friends last year. Whoever (or whatever) generated this spam must be playing with some good voodoo.

So, here is my mashup: lines from various poems I thought sounded nice together. With maybe one line of bullshit in there. Feel free to riff back with your own mashups

Mashed Poetoes

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
looking for an angry fix
And there the grass grew soft and white,
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
This it is, and nothing more.

What the hammer? what the chain?
What the fuck was in my brain?
'Twas brillig,' said I, 'And the slithy toves
in the forests of the night
Doth frame thy fearful symmetry.'

And Alph, that sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Toward heaven still,
across America in tears,
to the door of my cottage in the Western night.

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