The 2nd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit

The 2016 Summit…

We are so excited to be able to announce the cast of Instructors that we have for the 2016 Summit!  The only thing that would make it better would be if we could have added Wilson Reynolds picture to this group.  Even though he took his leave of this Earth on January 9th of this year (his 63rd birthday actually), we know that he will be with us in spirit and that he wanted us to carry on and keep his dream alive.

So, be sure to register soon as spaces are filling up quickly!  We are limiting the number of participants to 200 again this year because we want to keep the intimacy of the groups and event. We are really looking forward to working with all of these phenomenally talented folks and learning from each other!

Stay tuned for details of the schedule as we will post it on this site when it is complete.  Also, coming soon, information on 2 Pre-Conference Classes…one with Matt Kloskowski and one with Bill Fortney & Jack Graham!

2016 promo poster email size
The planning and organizing of details for the 2nd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit is under way!  The 1st Summit in 2015 vastly exceeded our expectations and we think everyone had a great time and learned so much.  We all feel like we made 200 new friends!  So, we are looking forward to doing this again and know that we will be bringing back some of the instructors from last year as well as adding some new ones.  I wish I could post a list of 2016 instructors for you now, but we are still finalizing those details.  I can tell you that Bill Fortney and Wilson Reynolds will definitely be on the list!  Registration is open as of now though, so check your calendars for October 26-30th of this year and plan to be in the Great Smoky Mountains with us.  Stay tuned to this site and our facebook page for updates as we have them!

2015 Summit Information

This Summit has been a dream for many years, but when Wilson Reynolds and Bill Fortney sat down to have a discussion a few short weeks ago, that dream took on life and is becoming a reality.  Everyone they called about participating as a leader said YES immediately.  Schedules worked out, details are coming together quickly, and EXCITEMENT is spreading rapidly.  The goal is to gather a variety of talented and knowledgeable photographers and instructors together in one place like no one has ever done before specifically for the nature and wildlife photography crowd.  We are blown away by the folks who said YES to us this first year and we hope to be able to include other amazing talent on the roster in the years to come.  One of the perks of being able to have this at Tremont Lodge & Resort (aside from the amazing location) is that the layout of the resort will allow us to have all of the presentations, large group sessions, break-out sessions, trade show, and accommodations in one place, but it will also give us the freedom to socialize, network, and get to know each other better in the down times.  It is a huge event in terms of impact, but we also want to keep it as intimate as possible, so the registration will be limited in number.
October 28th will be here before you know it!  Trust us, you will want to BE THERE, DO THAT, AND GET THE T-SHIRT (because yes, we are giving you a limited edition t-shirt!)

promo poster

40 thoughts on “The 2nd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit

    1. Hi Bill,

      The cost is $375 for the 5 day Summit until October 1st and then it goes to $450. The cost for the 3 day Summit is $299. If you would like, you can see more information about this on the Registration Page of the website. Thank you!


    1. Betty,
      Click on the Registration Tab in the menu at the top of the website. From there you will find clearly marked links that will take you through the registration process. Please let us know if you have any problems. Thanks!


    1. Ann – don’t know if you’ve been to many of these, but my experience (6-8 of them) has been that male/female, experienced/inexperienced get the same care & attention. (and no – I’m not connected to these folks, but have taken classes/workshops with a couple of them, and recommend them). Generally a good time, with good instruction & great locations. Lots of fun to compare notes with others in essentially the same ‘advanced amateur’ boat I’m in.


  1. I’m concerned about the time frame you are having the summit. Isn’t it getting a little late for the fall foliage in the Smokies? Maybe the crowds may be down then- which is good.


    1. Jay, it is hard to predict when the peak of color will be in the Smokies. It is usually the third to fourth week of October. However, it all depends on how much rain we have in the summer, how soon it gets cold, and how long it stays cold (among other factors I’m sure). Last year we had fall color AND snow the last week of October. So, we never really know, we just have to make an educated guess and plan. Even if we don’t hit the peak of the color there will still be lots to shoot. I grew up here and if there is one thing you can say about our weather, it is certainly unpredictable! Regardless, we plan on making it a great experience:).


  2. I have a great idea for the Summit. Lensrentals is located in Nashville. Why don’t you approach them to rent out the big lenses to your students at this summit? We could then pick them up at the Lodge at no shipping costs and enjoy the big lenses while we are there? I have sent them a notice proposing it to them. So if you haven’t already, you might want to meet up with them this week. They normally give up to 20% discounts at various times of the year. Here is their website:


  3. I will put in another voice of concern for the lack of a single woman on the roster of instructors, especially for a summit that is five days long. While this may have come together organically, this roster of instructors is not very representative of how the field of landscape photography looks today. This lack of representation is so pervasive in this field (summits, conferences, podcasts, publications, etc) and it is due to the type of decision-making you note above – choosing instructors based on who someone knows and not thinking beyond that immediate circle. While I have a lot of respect for many of the instructors and know they will offer excellent presentations, it seems like coming up with a more diverse and representative roster of instructors should be a top priority for next year (or adding some additional voices and perspectives for this year). I know I would be more likely to sign up if I saw some women on this roster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d be interested to know who you have in mind. I don’t know of many women landscape photographers who are also instructors. I would love to know of some to follow as I only know of a couple who also lecture.


  4. I have to agree with Valerie, but regardless, best wishes for a successful conference. And another thought: The blog post that led me to this page billed the event as a “landscape photography summit”, though here it is paired with wildlife photography. I wonder if that pairing was due to the assumption that the genre of landscape photography could not generate enough interest to carry the show on its own. Although there is some overlap between the two genres, they really are quite different, and lumping them together suggests certain emphases that will probably appeal primarily to a certain segment of all landscape photographers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Valerie,
    In picking the first years team, we had two women in mind and neither were available for this year’s date. We picked what we hoped would be the best possible team to provide a great experience for all the attendees. We must have done o.k, as the event is now sold out, two months in advance! Stating this year the attendees will be asked to recommend who “they” would like to see in 2016’s Summit! So it could not be more democratic going forward. I’m sure that one of the truly wonderful women, nature photographers in the field will be selected by our attendees! If you a re joining us you can make your recommendations! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to clarify this!


  6. I understand how hard it is to put an event like this together and fill a program with talented and interesting speakers. It takes an enormous amount of coordination and work. The Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit is an event I would definitely enjoy.
    Those who know me know that I am not one to worry about how many men or women are selected as speakers for these types of events and I think you have a great line-up of talented male landscape photographers. When I read John from Colorado’s comments I chuckled at first because it sounded like something I would say. But as I read and reflected on the other comments, I changed my mind. This is not identity politics but a real concern from women that have worked hard to perfect their craft but are still overlooked because in the past, most landscape photographers were male. I don’t think it’s intentional on the part of the event coordinators; I believe it’s merely an oversight.
    I don’t think women should be invited just to fill a quota; invites should be merit based. Those asked to be instructors must have something of value to offer. After all, the summit needs a dynamic program in order to entice folks to spend their time and hard-earned money to attend.
    I do find this trend of male dominated programs disturbing as more women have entered the landscape photography arena. The lack of women speakers at events like this indicates to me a lack of opportunities in this field because of the norms of the past. Kudos to the event coordinators for attempting to get a couple of female speakers and asking this year’s attendees who they would like to see. But the comment “So it could not be more democratic going forward. I’m sure that one of the truly wonderful women, nature photographers in the field will be selected by our attendees!” stood out because of the indication that “one” female photographer on the docket of 13 speakers would really be representative today’s landscape photographers. Again, it appears we are stuck in the norm of yesterday. The question is, how can we overcome it? The first step is awareness that the norm is there. The next step is to include women in this magnificent family of landscape photographers.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for replying Bill, I’m not sure how my email was missed since this form actually requires me to submit my email address but just in case, it’s I’m a bit confused since you say you asked two women to join (here in the comments). On your website comments, you say you asked only one woman and she couldn’t make it yet on your “lead in” page for this site it clearly states that ALL who were asked said yes. I quote: “Everyone they called about participating as a leader said YES immediately.”

    It’s neither here nor there at this point and all that seems to matter is that it’s sold out. As you say, you must have done, “ok”. I agree, you did, ok. I think with some better planning, forethought and progressive thinking you could have done “spectacular”. Why settle for just …ok. I don’t believe this was done in malice at all, I believe this was just done poorly. I don’t think you left women out on purpose I believe that female photographers are simply not on your radar at ALL. You can’t fix what you won’t acknowledge. Not one link on your website (last I looked) for ONE female photographer. I stand by Erin, Sarah and Kathy sentiments here as well as the many women who have commented on this summit in the numerous discussions this has brought about. Thanks for the kind words about my blog (btw my email is listed right on my blog as well) and I hope you have a great summit. I’m sure it will be just…OK


  8. Bill, I asked about outside shooting venues, but didn’t see a reply. Guess it’s irrelevant now since apparently all spots are taken. Would’ve liked to have a 3rd workshop with you. Jim.


    1. Jim, I’m so sorry about the delayed response! (This is not Bill, by the way, but I wanted to go ahead and respond to you). We are still in the midst of nailing down specific outdoor shooting venues, so we aren’t quite ready to post those as of yet. If you are still interested, we do have a waiting list that you can join (if you have not already) by sending an email to I’m sure Bill would love to have a 3rd workshop with you, so if this one does not work out, we hope to be doing this again next year! (Plus, Bill has a pretty full schedule of workshops lined up for next year in various locations as well, so be sure to check out his blog for His Light Workshops).


      1. OK, thanks. I was not sure. John D and I had given some thought to this one. I won’t go on the wait-list. I’ll look for others, but sort of frustrated. Maybe another someday. Sadly, Jim.


  9. As a woman photographer I’d like to add my two cents worth to the conversation. I, for one, don’t feel the lack of female photography instructors in any way diminishes the appeal of the summit. I’m just looking forward to learning all I can from the fine field of presenters that will be there.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. All women and men should be concerned that this workshop filled up before all of our questions were answered and a completed workshop plan published. It will indeed be an elite group of men and women attending that put their complete faith into the workshop leaders in a 1st summit. While many of you think this is a landscape workshop, I suspect it is a workshop full of men with their big lenses wanting to shoot animals. I mean that nicely! The fact that the workshop wasn’t scheduled during the height of fall foliage lends itself to this belief or either the workshop leaders are too busy teaching private courses during the “better” landscape times. I was about to enroll and arrive a week early so I can get those landscape shots before joining the big lens guys, but alas, the workshop is now closed!


  11. Lets see we have some women complaining the Summit is not “progressive enough” others complain that the summit is missing the fall color peak of the season. Man oh man, I for one would hate to learn from you guys and gals because you must be complaining all the time when you are out shooting. Damn wind is blowing, damn clouds or either not there or there are too many, damn rain is too hard, damn tide is too low or too high, etc.

    The fall colors are running later each year I have been coming to Townsend for years an always come at this time and I have not been let down by the colors yet. Even in the San Juan Mountains the change is happening a little later than normal.

    People just get over it and stop complaining or start your own summit of some sort…. even a progressive one.
    I for one like the lineup and for being able to put this together within a two month time frame is quite an accomplishment in itself. The next complaints will be that if one does not put on a backpack and hit the trail for 10-15 miles he or she is not really a landscape photographer.

    And oh yeah, I think…but I could be wrong…..the last time I saw a wild animal he or she was out in the landscape of some sort…… unless they were at the zoo, then that would be called a zooscape.

    Oh and in closing….. Bill said he could not find your email ON YOUR WEBSITE that would mean he was visiting your website (oh yeah he said that I guess your eyes were so full of anger you didn’t see that) and not looking through some form…..oh yeah since this is not Bill’s website he probably does not get the completed form information emailed to him. I am pretty sure it goes to Owner of this website. Just like the info generated goes to you when generated on your website.

    Now that I have been sucked in to complaining……thank you….I will just leave this thread and head on to something more positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a greta event…. great hosts, great classes, great instructors great photos, great times and great new friends all at the Great Smoky Mountain Summit. Thanks to Wilson and Bill for bringing this all together along with all the excellent Leaders and especially April Love for ALL YOU DID…… start the countdown for next year.


  13. Hi! I didn’t find out about this conference until it was much too late. If you have a notification list, please include my email. Maybe next year… Thanks!


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