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3 years, 7 months ago 6



Today I’m going to let Wilson go, and be at peace with his Heavenly Father.  Today it’s time to go one with our lives!  That is what he would want, for sure.  So I need a plan, well I already had a plan, but I thought, with your permission, I might share it?!


1.  Get ready for battle!   Face it, we are in a  spiritual battle and we must get prepared.  It’s time to pray, read the word and start remembering to share His love.  We can’t do any of this in our own strength, so it is time to ask for His.


2.  Spend more “time” with family & friends God has blessed me with.  We are all busy, it’s just the way our lives are, but I know any chance I get to fellowship with family & friends that I pass up will come back to bite me.  Nothing’s more important than quality time with family and friends.  When I lost my father I wished I had gone back to Harlan more often to be with him, same with my mother, and yes, I could’ve run down to Townsend a time or two to see Wilson. See where this is going?  When  you spend some time thinking about it you realize what you’ve always known, the people in our lives are the most important things other than our relationship with our Lord. Don’t wait, start today reaching out to those you care about, make 2016 the year you reconnect with what matters most!


3.   If you’re really serious about your photogprahy, get cranking!  It’s time folks. The plan should be to look at your work with a critical eye.  What needs work?  Where can you shore up your technique, your vision, your approach.  Spend some time looking at great work and ask yourself why it appeals to you.  What can you learn from it.  Develop your own style by being yourself.  Many years ago I wanted to be John Shaw, then it dawned on me, there already was a John Shaw, that place was already taken, I had to be myself, the best myself I could be, but myself all the same!  For me, it’s worked out fine!


4.  Learn how to laugh at yourself.  It’s way to easy to take ourselves to too seriously. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have respect for yourself, you should, or that you shouldn’t feel you’re important, God has already proven just how important you are.  But life must have levity. Learn to laugh when you do stupid stuff, come on, you’re really not saying you don’t do stupid stuff are you?!  I sure do, and I’ve leaned it is a lot of fun laughing at myself!  Might as well, everyone else is! After all, It’s Time!




the pilgrim

3 years, 7 months ago 15




The last time I was with Wilson we were beginning  the celebration of the  Christmas season.  His team had beautifully  decorated the main Lodge of the Tremont Lodge for Christmas, a roaring fire was going in the big stone fire place and I sat across the leather couch from him.  He looked at me, and a little smile crept over his face.  He looked at me for moment and said with child like excitement,  “Joe McNally and Anne Cahill are at my lodge!”  and then he said,   “Bill, the Summit, it really worked, it was great!”  and then he said, with the most sincere expression I’d ever seen him have, “Thank you.”   No Wilson, thank you!




Wilson Reynold exhibited one of the greatest traits I could ever hope to have, his childlike enthusiasm and love for others. When we talked about the various issue of putting on the Summit he always said, “We will do what ever we have to do, to make it great for them!”  Them, to him, was the people that honored him by coming to the Sumit and giving him a chance to provide them with a great experience. Wilson truly loved those people, every one of them,  and he loved our team, he was so appreciative for their efforts, and their efforts were legion!



Portrait by Joe McNally


Wilson was a man of incredible personal accomplishments, but he would never tell you about them, you had to hear them from someone else and ask him if it were true, he would always fend it off as no big deal.  His friends were often very well known people, but he rarely mentioned it, and when he did it was as off handed as if he were talking about just anybody.  During that last workshop we were sitting eating and he said I was just with a friend and I told him I wanted him to  meet you, he said Dick Cheney is really nice guy, matter of faclty.  The former Vice President of the United States!  and  he’s “a really nice guy”,   that was Wilson.




Wilson’s dream was about helping people enjoy the Smokies, have fun photographing them, and teaching them all he could about how to do it better.  It wasn’t about making money, not in Townsend, he knew how to make money, apparently he made a lot, but when I was with him it was always about, “how do you think it’s going, are they having a good time??!!”  I can imagine if he was reading this he would say, “Enough already, get to work, you have a Summit to put on young man, and take care of my people!”  “Yes Sir, consider it done my friend!  but, just let me thank you for letting me be part of your life and your dream!”


Now I’ll get to work.




the pilgrim

3 years, 7 months ago 57



It seems impossible that I only got to know Wilson Reynolds, less than a year ago.  We had met in the past, several times, but they were meetings that ended shortly after they began.  Yesterday morning Wilson left us and went home to his Heavenly Father.  He had undergone heart surgery, very serious heart surgery,  just days before and it seemed he was recovering well, we were all celebrating this, another near miss.  Then yesterday morning he coded.  I don’t know exactly what happened,  I just know he left us.


He has left us poorer because we will miss his warm loving embrace, his smile and child like enthusiasm for his beloved Smokies, for photography, hunting, fishing, and his countless friends, all of whom suffered a great loss yesterday.  Wilson did not suffer a loss, he gained life in eternity! Wilson is no longer tied to a failing heart and body wrecked with disease, he is free, free at last. I’m certain that if he could send us one last text it would be, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve never felt this good, and wait until you see the colors we have here, can’t wait to see you here with me!’  I know Wilson is with his Father in Heaven, I know because we had several deep talks about his faith. That brings me great comfort, at a time of great personal loss.


I met Wilson, again, in April of 2015.  I was getting ready to run a workshop in the Smokies and a mix up with my hotel left me without rooms or a meeting space.  My dear friend Byron Begley and I were talking and I was telling him about the mess I was in and he said hasn’t Wilson gotten in touch with you?  I said Wilson who?!  Byron said “Wilson Reynolds, you know him, he certainly knows you!”   He went on to say that Wilson had wanted to meet with me, that he had bought the old Best Western complex and had completely remodeled it and wanted to work with me to run workshops. I called Wilson and he was in Townsend for the day, less than 10 minutes later we were sitting in the main lodge building at his beautiful Tremont Lodge complex.


I remembered this Santa Clausesk gentleman from talks at various Nikon booths over the prior dozen years.  He always had a exciting idea he wanted me to take part in upon my retirement and while they always sounded fantastic, they were mostly ships that passed in the night, lights aglow on a dark sea, only to fade as they went opposite directions.  But here we were again, and now the ideas seemed to be something to hold on to.  Wilson a very successful financial guy from Maryland had made his fortune there but spent it around the world running a very successful TV production on Extreme Adventures for the National Geographic Channel.  He had photographed, fished and hunted with the rich and famous in the most exotic locations on earth and his stories were endless and a joy to  hear.


In our first meeting I started to wonder what on earth does this man think I might be able to do for him??!!  Then came the question that would be life changing,  Wilson asked, “How can I establish the Tremont Lodge as the go to place for nature photography workshops and seminars in America? That is the dream of my lifetime, will you help me, please!!??”  Bigger things were at play than Wilson and !  I immediately threw out an outlandish idea, and Wilson said, “great let’s do it!”  My idea had been that the nature photography community needed a Photoshop World kind of event where a large number of photographers could attend classes and presentations from some of the fields most recognized and respected nature photographers.  Before I realized what I had done I had shaken hands with Wilson and April Love, his very able assistant, to make this happen!!!


Many times over the following months I regretted I had said I would help, it was an enormous undertaking, one that needed a couple of years to put together and we were attempting to do it in just 6 months.  Lots of great people joined April, Wilson and I to work very hard!  A great team of photographers came together to be our first year’s team, and shockingly, we filled the event up in just a few weeks, and sadly turned away over a hundred folks that we simply didn’t have room to accommodate!


I’m sharing all this with you because it brings this tribute to Wilson, to a fitting close.  The event was a bigger success than April, Wilson or I could had even hoped for.  During the opening night program, after thanking the packed house for coming to the first Smokey Mountain Nature Photography Summit,  Wilson introduced me, and with tears welling up in his eyes he said, ” and now a man who helped me realize one of the greatest dreams of a lifetime.”  That will be my lasting memory of a great man, a great friend and a person that allowed me, even if for just as short time to be a part of his incredible life story.  You will be missed my freind, but we will carry on your dream and your legacy!




the pilgrim


The portrait of Wilson above was made by Joe McNally  in early December 2015.



After a fitful nights sleep mourning the loss of Wilson I awoke this morning and sleepily walked into my great room and  looked out on my deck which was receiving a light coating of fresh snow. I sat on the coach and wept,  Sherlene joined me and put her arms around me and I told her that snow has always been a little gift from God for me, a way of saying I will cover the earth again white and pure and give you a fresh start.  I know Wilson is enjoying a fresh start in eternity today, and I will make the most of the time my Heavenly Father gives me here!


My Morning Prayer;


Father thank you for letting me get to know Wilson.  Please put your arms around Him today and tell him we love him, miss him, and we all thank him for what he gave us while we enjoyed your glorious creation together.  I’m sure he is already cooking up something incredible for all of us when we get there.  Tell him we’ll be ready to sign up again,  for God’s next great adventure.

3 years, 7 months ago 4


I’m working on the next series of eBooks in the New Ascending  Series.  eBooks aimed at the next step in photographic development, a step beyond The Foundation Series.   These book will delve into Photographic Vision and Composition as their main subject matter.  First in the series, How Did You See That? will be out soon!


                                   FLASH  –   THIS JUST IN!!!!!!!

* I didn’t write the legendary part!

Original Piece has the Artists Standing For Christ God Beads in, get your at: 



the pilgrim