The Days & Nights of the Summit…

Here are just a few “behind the scenes” snapshots from the fun that we have had since 2015 when we started this crazy adventure! I will admit that were it not for some AMAZING volunteers (our “camera camp” counselors) and participants sharing these images on our private Facebook page (which one of them actually set up for any Summit participants who would like to join to keep up with everyone),we wouldn’t have any behind the scenes shots, because this is the one event that I never seem to be able to take them! So, thanks to everyone who posted these so that I can share them here to show our participants this year a little taste of what you have in store for you! As I was scrolling back through the Facebook group looking for these images to share, I was astonished all over again at the beauty that these folks have captured and shared through the years. The Great Smoky Mountains are home to me, but it is always a treat to see them through the lenses of other people. It makes me love them even more. As a bonus, we all met each other and bonded over our love of this place and trying to capture its beauty and wonder.

For those of you who are curious about the schedule for this year, we now have the general schedule posted on the website. It has its own menu tab “Summit Schedule 2019”.

The Summit Just Got a Lot Sweeter…

How, you ask? Because we just found out that Tony Sweet IS going to be able to join us as an instructor at the Summit this year after all! We were hoping that his schedule was going to work out so he could join us and it did! So, now we have 12 AMAZING instructors lined up for you in November. If you haven’t registered yet, you can still do that by visiting the registration tab on this site, or you can click this link to take you straight to registration.

Check it out! We added Len Rue, Jr. to this amazing cast!

If you have never met, worked with, or been taught by Len Rue, Jr., now is the perfect opportunity! He is one of my favorite people (and by far the most cheerful person at 5am that I have ever met…and I know this because he is always the first one present to help me with breakfast before everyone goes out for field sessions!) . He literally grew up in this industry and is an amazing teacher. There is still time to sign up for the Summit this November. Just click here to take you to registration. We look forward to seeing you in November!

You can still order food:)!

Yes, originally, the cut off date for ordering box lunches and the fajita bar buffet dinner on Wednesday night was last Friday, October 20th.  However, we have opened that back up until Saturday, October 28th for any of you that might have forgotten! Our catering vendors are much more lenient this year, so that is a plus!  Here is the link for ordering food if you still want to get in on that!  Click HERE to order food!

One week to go!

It’s almost time for the 3rd Annual Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit to begin!  We are taking care of last minute details in preparation for everyone’s arrival next week, but we wanted to tease you with a few tidbits now…

As you all may know, our opening keynote presentation will be given by Charles Glatzer.  We are so fortunate that he could be with us for the first few days of the Summit!  Charles is a Canon Explorer of Light and we are very thankful to Canon for sponsoring his keynote presentation and helping bring him to East Tennessee.Print

Charles is also holding a pre-conference workshop on Tuesday, October 31st from 9am-5pm at Tremont Lodge (and in the field).  The program is “Metering Demystified” and there are still a few spots remaining if you have been thinking about it but had not committed as of yet.  You don’t want to miss this amazing opportunity!  You can still find the link for this class on the registration page of this website.

See you all soon!

Still Time to Enter the Print Competition…

Just wanted to remind everyone that the deadline to enter the 2017 Summit Print Competition is Friday, October 20th at midnight (EST)!  After this next bit of news, you will definitely not want to miss that deadline….

I just got the official word from Fuji that they will again be sponsoring the prize for the Best of Show winner and it will be….

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 12.22.35 AM


Fuji just released this camera, so we are so excited that they are providing one of these to  our Best of Show winner this year!  Fuji will be on hand all week, so be sure to stop by their booth in the trade show, borrow some gear to try out, and ask them all kinds of questions.  They love to get their products in your hands so you can see what all the fuss is about!

We are loving seeing your amazing images come in for the print competition.  These will be on display at the Lodge throughout the Summit and the winners will be decided after votes are tallied from all of our judges (our entire panel of instructors).  I never envy them that job because it is always a difficult one!  Check out the Summit Print Competition page on this website for all of the information on how to enter.  These do not have to be images taken at a previous Summit.  They can be taken from any time, and anywhere (unless it is for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park category…that one is rather specific).  We just ask that you only enter images that you have taken and that you do not enter an image that has previously won in one of the two previous Summit competitions.  If you have any questions about how to enter, please email us at or call us at 865-934-0909.  Can’t wait to see all of these amazing prints displayed!

Break Out Sessions Schedule is Posted!

For those of you who have been curious, the break out sessions schedule is now posted!  You can find a link to the pdf on the “Summit Schedule” page of this website.  Full descriptions of each break out session as well as all the other info that you will need will be available in the program guide that you will receive at registration.  We will also post a digital version of this program guide to the website on the Summit Schedule page as soon as all of the finishing touches are completed!

Up Close & Personal with Birds of Prey…

Not too long ago, I received a phone call from Bill Lea with some exciting information.  He had just had the opportunity to work with the folks from Upstate Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center, which is a non-profit, volunteer run bird sanctuary just off the Foothills Parkway.  Here is the exciting part that he wanted to share with everyone…

“Are you like me, always wanting to photograph a hawk or owl, but can never find one?  They just seem to blend into the forest canopy.  Of course, I do sometimes forget to look up into the treetops when I ‘m walking through the woods (maybe because I’m too busy looking for bears).  Anyway, I recently met Natalie – a licensed bird rehabilitator and owner of Upstate Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center.  I have also had the good fortune to photograph some of her educational birds and it was GREAT!  These are birds that cannot be released back into the wild and thus, are used for educational purposes.  They are comfortable around people and they enjoy the opportunity to get out of their pens for a little enrichment (a term used in reference to captive animals who need some variety in their lives – some days I’m behind the computer so long that I feel I could use some “enrichment”).
This year we are going to offer the opportunity for you to photograph some of these amazing birds – like Eddy – the red phase screech owl, Wilson – the gray phase screech owl, and A.J. – the handsome kestrel (sometimes called sparrow hawk) for a fifty dollar donation to the Upstate Birds of Prey.   There are other birds we will photograph including a barred owl, a red-tailed hawk, and an amazing barn owl (sorry – I forgot their names).  We can have up to 25 people in a session.  We will start by shooting a sunrise along the Foothills Parkway and then will travel to the nearby Upstate Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center.  We will break up into groups of five to a bird and after a while switch off to another bird so we all have an opportunity to photograph at least five different species, up close and personal.  The good news is that all of your $50 fee goes directly to benefit the birds.  Natalie and her staff are all volunteers – caring for and helping these birds out of the love of their hearts for the birds.  Plus, your $50 fee is tax-deductible.  Of course, you will not only be helping these birds and getting a tax write-off in the process – you will have an outstanding opportunity to capture some very nice images of these beautiful hard-to-find birds of prey.  Oh, and you can bet I will be right there shooting with you!”
So, yes, we are going to add this amazing opportunity to the Summit this year!  This will be an optional “field session” since we will be pairing it with a sunrise shoot at Foothills Parkway.  Unlike the other field sessions though, we are asking for a $50 contribution to the Upstate Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Center since they have been so kind to offer to have enough volunteers on hand to allow us to experience and photograph these birds in very small groups.  The sign ups for these sessions are not yet available, but you will receive an email as soon as they are if you are registered for the Summit!  We will handle sign ups for these sessions like we do for the Pre-Conference sessions, they will just take place at the same time as the Field Sessions instead of the day before the Summit starts.  If you sign up to go to the Upstate Birds of Prey, please keep that in mind when it comes time to register for field sessions so that you don’t double book yourself!  Field Session sign ups will not happen until the end of September.  We are so excited about this opportunity to not only photograph these beautiful creatures, but to be able to help the rehabilitation center at the same time!

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The Smokies in November…

For those of you that may not know, Bill Lea actually lives in the Townsend area and so he is very familiar with the Smokies in all seasons.  We have had a couple of conversations about why we are excited to be having the Summit in the first part of November this year instead of the end of October and I just wanted to share with you here a written and visual interpretation of  Bill’s experience of  the Smokies in November…

“For those of you who have not been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the first week of November to photograph fall, you are in for a surprise.  It is one of my favorite times to photograph scenery in the Smokies.  Some years, the colors can be simply amazing in early November at the lower elevations.  Combine that with the fact that we always seem to have a better than average chance for fog and maybe even some hoar frost – it can be fabulous.  Of course, the best part of all is that the Park is nearly void of people.  It is like everybody leaves the Smokies on the last day of October, which is fine with me.  I can get around the Park easily in my efforts to chase the fog, light, and colors I so dearly love!  Please come join us at Great Smoky Mountains Summit this November 1st- 5th and see for yourselves how wonderful it is in the Smokies at this time of year (but please don’t tell everyone you know – I love having the park kind of to myself in early November.)  All of the images shown here were taken during the first half of November over the past seven years or so.”

_AAM5369_AAP0094_AAQ2412_AAQ2418Fall colors of a cove hardwood forest - Great Smoky Mountains National Park_AAQ2488Fall colors below Bull Head Mountain - Great Smoky Mountains National ParkAutumn view of Laurel Creek Falls - Great Smoky Mountains National Park_AAY1858