A Love Letter!
I have just gotten back home from a wonderful week in the Great Smokies with the fantastic team and attendees of the Out Of Chicago’s Great Smokies Event. You may be wondering why I am about to go on a rant about how much I enjoyed someone elses’s event when I teach my own workshops with Jack Graham and help run events like the Fall Smokies Summit? If you were under the mistaken impression that I teach only for money, then yes, you would be absolutley right, why one earth would I laude someone’s else’s event!!?? The point is I love photography and more importantly the people of photography. I love the fellowhship, the fun and banter of being in the field together, no matter who profits and in fact when things are this fantastic…..everyone profits!
Please let me explain: the photography world that I’ve known, mostly the nature, landscape, close-up markets has been under assault. Camera sales are fraction of what they were a decade and half or so ago. The accessories market is struggling to stay afloat, camera bag makers, tripod makers, filter companies are all struggling to find their sustaninable share of the shrinking market. I used to subscribe to Popular Photography, Modern Photography, Peterson’s Photographic, American Photography and Outdoor Photography, now all those except for Outdoor are gone and they are half the size, in pages per issue! Today’s young photographers have mostly gone to their smart phones as their camera of choice! So in the midst of all this down turn I just spent four days with 80 something excited photographers and a team of extremely talented leaders! So why am I pumped? I see some small light at the end of the tunnel! The pressing question is why?
First, hunger and thirst to learn. This group of students though mostly in their sixities and seventies and a few in their eighties were still learning the craft and they were excited to learn! I meet a lot of photographers today that think they have arrived, and that’s a mistake, at 53 years of doing this seriously, I’m not even close to arriving! When the wonder and joy of learning and growing is gone, so are you!
Second, a killer team of dedicated instructors. I’ve been doing this a long, long time and let me remind you, in some ways, I started the big outdoor event when we founded the Great American Photography Weekends over thirty years ago! We featured the best of the best photographers/teachers then and this group did for now! I don’t want to leave anyone out, because they were all outstanding, but I was exposed to some new Master’s of the Craft at this event. Ian Plant, Mark Denny, Joseph Rossbach, Colleen Miniuk, Sarah Marino, Anne Belmont, Chrissy Donadi, Kurt Budliger and Steve Gettle stood out as wonderfully talented fresh new faces for me! Old Guard shooters that I have known for a long time, Tony Sweet and David Akoubian were an added bonus and made this old goat feel right at home! The youngsters Dusty Doddridge and David Johnston made me confident that our craft is in good hands for the future!
Thirdly, great organization is key to something like this succeeding! Chris Smith and his dedicted team of people simply took on the complex and daunting task of keeping the train on the rails with ablaum! The event was well planned and executed and like all great leaders when anything started to swerve in the curves, Chris and his staff gently moved it back into place! I’ve done this and I can tell you it is a monumental task, my hats off to Chris, Bob, Lesley, Sarah, Jennifer and Anne, you guys did a supurb job! I’ve never been to any of the other field events of Out of Chicago, but they must be equally well done as I met many attendees that were on their 5th and 6th events with Chris and his team! On my drive home, I was moved to tears thinking about what a wonderful time I had!
So in closing, like the Great American Photography Weekends and the Great Smokies Nature Photography Summit in Townsend, the Out of Chicago Event has to join the Hall of Fame of events that further, nurture and keep our outdoor photography dreams alive! I can’t wait to add another ground breaking event to this list when Jack Graham and I bring the Masters of Nature and Landscape Photography Symposium to life in the fall of 2023 in the Great Smokies, stay tuned for more on that in the next few weeks!
For now, move over and make a place for Chris Smith and his great team and organization in the Outdoor Photography Hall of Fame!
Blessings, Say Grace and Give Thanks,
This entry was posted on Saturday, April 30th, 2022 at 12:27 pm
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