TGSMNPS – A Smashing success……….

8 years, 7 months ago 20

Tony Sweet and Jack Graham share a laugh in the field at the TGSMNPS  (The Great Smoky Mountains Nature Photography Summit  – Volume I


Our first Summit was a smashing success and for a lot of reasons!!!


1.  Over 200 great, enthusiastic attendees!  We had the great pleasure of spending five days with some of the greatest folks, they were really a great group!  Below, Len Rue Jr. signs an attendee’s event poster!



(2.)  We had the most incredible team of instructors, leaders, mentors and just plain great guys!  Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Rob Sheppard, Tony Sweet, Jack Graham, Wilson Reynolds, Len Rue Jr., Jim Begley, John “Snake” Barrett,  Bill Lea, Ken Jenkins, Brett Wells, and even the pilgrim.


(3.)  We hit the fall color perfectly, we got peak color and then leaves on the ground!!!!








(4.)  April Love and the Tremont Lodge and Resort Team, along with Jim and Sue Haverstock worked tirelessly to meet everyone’s needs!!!   April spent months taking care of the countless items on mine and Wilson’s lists!  She did a great job!  Wilson stepped up to the plate and invested in the infrastructure needed to make this resort ready for such a great gathering.  New screens, nice, big ones, and Canon 4500 lumens projectors graced the three big meeting room venues!  The on screen images were simply the best reproduction I’ve ever seen, not great news for me, got to have a Canon WUX450 projector now!!!!!!


As the co-chairman, along with Wilson, I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to see such big undertaking go off with so few issues, of course lots of little things will be fixed or enhanced for next year, but since we will only be accepting 225 attendees next year, it looks like the TGSMNPS has many years of great events, yet to come!!!!


Don’t take my word for it, this is just a few of many comments emailed to us after the event!!!


“After attending the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit this past week, I wanted to commend you and all involved on a great event!  it was refreshing to hear from all the educators and professionals their honest opinions and appreciated how freely they shared their knowledge, experiences and technical expertise during the event.  To me, the event proved to be more about inspiration and community than any other gathering I’ve attended.”

Karin Smith



“Bill, this was absolutely one of the best events I’ve ever taught at. So yes, I’m in for next year, pre-conference session and all. Seriously, this was a special event for me and so many people there. I think we came pretty darn close to connecting with people the way we do on a small workshop. Anyone who wanted to really get personal interactions and learn a lot could have and had plenty of chances and I think we helped a lot of people last week. The feedback I heard was over the top great.”

Matt Kloskowski


“I really enjoyed meeting a lot of truly great folks, and our time together as a team was a very special experience!  One of the best large events I’ve ever attended or spoken at!”

Jack Graham


“A triple home run, out of the park!!!!!”

Paul Travers


Stay tuned to both the TGMNPS website and mine to see information about when registration will start for the next event!  It will be bigger and better than ever!




the pilgrim


20 Responses

  1. Fred Waits says:

    Learned a lot on the morning shoots from instructors and received valuable information during each of the presentations I attended. Love taking pictures in the Smoky Mountains. Looking forward to next year at Summit #2.
    This is the best photo workshop (summit) I have ever attended.

  2. Mike Early says:

    Bill, thanks for all that you did to drive this to fruition … a most enjoyable event …

  3. Steve Hurst says:

    Thank you and all of the team for putting on an unbelievable event. I can’t even put it into words to explain how much I enjoyed it and the instruction was fantastic. I especially enjoyed your Saturday night presentation. I am looking forward to next year Lord Willing of course.
    One thing I was so impressed with was how all of the instructors were so eager to spend time with anyone who had a question. And as far as I know no one received a pacifier.

    Thanks again to all of you that was involved in this great event.

  4. Johnny Boyd says:

    What more can be said….. BRAVO, BRAVO!

    What a great event and to finally to be able to meet those responsible for my success as a nature photographer. Bill you have played a very inspirational part in my shooting from the first time I met you in Austin and saw your presentation and oh that Arlington Cemetery slideshow… still gives me shills when I think about it. Being able to get the luck of the draw and have Tony Sweet critique my portfolio…. an absolute honor. Being able to learn more from Matt K. each time I run into him. Jim Begley’s HDR session has me wanting to learn to excel in that area after seeing his success. Wilson Reynolds what more can be said about him…. a truly exceptional individual eager to share his wealth of knowledge with those willing to listen. Bill Lea, the Cades Cove Godfather sharing his Cove knowledge. And all the people I met….. not one time did I ever think you were going to have to hand out one of those four necklaces you showed everyone at the beginning of the summit. I had a wonderful time my friend and thanks again for everything you did.

  5. Bill Fortney says:

    It was our pleasure Johnny, great to see you again!!!

  6. Don Tingle says:

    Jealous, so sorry I couldn’t be there this year. Looks like you nailed the fall color.
    I’ll see you next year, I understand the plan is same week next year?

    • admin says:

      That is being discussed, might be a week later, stay tuned! Fall in recent years has been around the very end of October, to early November.

  7. Gale Stoner says:

    What a fantastic team of educators. Bill Fortney is the man! Everyone was approachable and was always available to answer questions and give advice. Wilson Reynolds made our field trip so rewarding. The Summit exceeded my expectations in every way! The first Summit has set the bar high.

  8. Johnny Boyd says:

    Well Bill, I thought I aint seen nuthin yet until I stumbled upon this video on You Tube and it looks like you been holdin back on us…..

    Dynamic range bracketing , why and how.

    Learned something again by watching this video……thanks Bill.

  9. Sunny Archibald says:

    What an amazing event! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the week, from the early morning shoots to the amazing presentations by the instructors. I had no idea they would be so open and approachable. Thanks to everyone who made the Summit happen. My room is already booked for next year.

  10. Jon says:

    I’ll have to do this some time (attend). I love the Smokies and go often. It would be fun to attend this event in the future. Assuming you all let me in even though I just sold my X-T1 in favor of a D750 😉

  11. Love the shot of Tony, one of my favorite photographers and people. And I still say he could find an image in a toilet bowl! 😀