Today I’m back in the Great Smoky Mountains for my photographic family reunion. It’s time for the Autumn Brilliance workshop again and this is where I come to get rejuvenated and inspired by my friends and mentors.

There’s an undertone of melancholy to this one, though. While it’s only my fourth fall workshop at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont, Will Clay has been leading it for 25 years. And this is his last as he hands the reins over to my buddy, Tom Vadnais. Will is moving on to teach the advanced workshops here so he won’t be disappearing, but the fall workshop will not be the same without him.

His role as a mentor has been invaluable in shaping my photography skills, both technically and emotionally. He’s honest and encouraging. His passion and energy are contagious. And even though I’ve attended this workshop many times, I find that I always have more to learn from him. I know that I will forever have a Little Will on my shoulder, whispering in my ear…

“Photograph like you mean it.”

Thank you, Will.

great smoky mountains
Looking back to my first workshop and how far I’ve come with Will’s help…