So what seems like an eternity ago but what was really only a few months, I got a little uber-mommy time. That’s right, I got to spend a glorious long weekend at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont for the Autumn Brilliance Photography workshop. With the boys shipped off to Gma for safe keeping, I got four days away sans all demands of homeschooling and domestic duties to soak up the awesome that is Will Clay and the Smoky Mountains.
First, The Workshop…
As you know, I was already a fan of Will and his work. He’s a rare combination of great talent, teaching ability, personality, and passion. After meeting him in Atlanta for a seminar, I knew it would be worth the time and energy to venture off to Tremont for his workshop. And while Will was the reason I ventured to Tremont for the first time, it turns out he had way more up his considerable sleeve than I imagined, and that was his assemblage of additional instructors.
Not only is Will all sorts of groovy, he handed to floor over to some other wonderful photographers to help us photographer wannabes become more “be” than “wanna.” So I have to give a shout out to his other instructors…Tom Vadnais, Steve Zigler, Ken Thompson, and Todd Moore. It’s safe to say I learned a lot from each of them and they were the chocolate sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry on top of the Will Clay sundae. And while I realize that’s probably a really odd metaphor for photographers, you get the idea.
At any rate, I won’t go photo-geek on you with all the minutia of the workshop, but I will say that it was very worthwhile. With visits to Foothills Parkway, Elkmont, and the Middle Prong River there was plenty of opportunity to put into practice all of the expertise they shared with us. They deftly handled all ability levels and we, as students, got to benefit from their extensive knowledge of the area. I thoroughly appreciated that Will kept maximizing our shooting opportunities as the top priority even if it meant breakfast in the field. As Will said…”We’re not here to eat.”
Aside from the opportunity to expand my photographic abilities, just having time to hang out in the Smokies with my camera and a bunch of cool, talented people was enough to leave a silly grin on my face for days. Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for a great workshop in a stunning location…
…which brings us to the location.
Tremont is a cozy little retreat that hosts all sorts of events…family weekends, courses, school groups, etc. Of course, I was so wrapped up in shooting the natural landscapes that I didn’t get any shots of the facilities themselves for you. Never fear, I’ll be sure to grab some when I’m there next month, but more on that later.
At any rate, the accommodations are simple and in keeping with the natural setting nestled on the Tennessee side of the Smokies. Obviously this isn’t a luxury resort but that’s ok. It’s what it needs to be and you know I’m not one for frills anyway so this is right up my alley. Having said that, as much as I like the simple life, I will say the that dorm rooms are not for the light sleeper…ahem, that would be me. (And I now know why many of the participants hoteled it in town!) In spite of the limited sleep, I still had a great time exploring Tremont and will be a repeat visitor.
Oh so full calendar…
…but in a good way. So yes, I will be returning for the Spring Photography Workshop…and probably the autumn workshop again in October. And because I can’t seem to get enough, I’ll be pursuing the Southern Appalachian Naturalist Certification in addition to honing my photography skills. So I’ll certainly be posting lots of Tremont fodder this year and next time I’ll be sure to take a few more shots of the place itself.
In the meantime, here are some of the shots I managed during the workshop, plus a few more over on my Flickr page for Tremont. Hopefully you’ll get a feel for the beauty of the Smokies if you’ve never had the opportunity to visit. Trust me, there’s a reason it’s the most visited park in the U.S.