Out of The Great Smoky Mountains

Spring Landscape & Nature Photography Conference

April 25-29, 2022

Image by Sarah Marino

Immerse yourself this spring in an all-new photography experience in the heart of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.

From atmospheric misty morning overlooks to cascading rivers and spring wildflower trails, explore, learn and photograph one of the most diverse national parks in the world. Live your best creative life. Spend five days in the peaceful side of the Smokies and push your creativity as you learn hands-on, shooting alongside some of the best landscape photographers in the world.

"The Great Smoky Mountains are at their finest of the entire year in late April. The forest canopy takes on a special green when it first leafs out this time of year. Waterfalls and cascades are full of water and the surrounding mossy boulders become electric green with fresh rains of spring. Dogwoods line the creeks and the edge of the forest while the wildflowers paint the forest floor in intimate scenes. There is frequently fog in the coves during the early mornings and cloud cover above the classic stacked blue ridges. And wildlife becomes more active this time of year. The variety of photography to explore in the Great Smoky Mountains, especially in spring, is hard to beat."

– Dusty Doddridge, Out of The Great Smoky Mountains Instructor


Be inspired and learn hands-on from the world's best landscape photographers

With years of local knowledge and passion for photographing the Smokies, Out of The Great Smoky Mountains brings the best creative landscape photographers together in one place to improve your photography skills. Ranging from grand landscapes to intimate scenes, learn hands-on a range of photography styles and diverse perspectives shooting alongside the pros in this scenic woodland wonderland. Knowing when and where to be there, they will take you to their favorite or secret locations The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer.

"The Smokies are truly one of the most diverse parks in the country. You have big overlook landscapes, old forests, waterfalls, wildflowers, and intimate landscapes. The weather provides ideal photography opportunities for spring."

– David Johnston, Out of The Great Smoky Mountains Instructor


What makes this conference unique?

Be inspired and capture the beauty of the Smokies at this five-day spring wildflower and landscape photography conference. Everything is within steps of The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, including Cades Cove, Tremont, wildflower trails and much more. Each day will be a photography adventure as you go in the field, learn and shoot alongside the pros. To make the most of your time in the Smokies, presentations will be provided on equipment, locations and shooting techniques in advance for you to prepare for the event. While in the Smokies your time will be spent in hands-on, small group field excursions, image reviews and post-processing sessions. The conference format is geared for you to learn techniques, try them and get feedback on your work.

Things you will learn:

  • Camera settings and exploring aspect ratio for landscape photography
  • Capturing great light on the landscape, from woodlands to misty ridges and overlooks.
  • Effective use of polarizers and ND filters along cascading rivers and waterfalls
  • Slowing down and going beyond the iconic shot
  • Black and white landscape photography
  • Refining vision and style and infusing magic into your photographs
  • Use of various focal length lenses to capture different effects
  • Capturing the quiet and the dramatic in The Great Smoky Mountains
  • Specialty techniques including infrared and creative camera movement
  • Using Lensbaby lenses
  • Managing motion, including varying shutter speeds for waterfall and cascades
  • Finding your composition in intimate scenes and grand landscapes
  • Strategies to capture tack sharp images every time
  • Post-processing, editing and workflow
  • Hands-on, in-the-field instruction, Image reviews, porch side critiques and much more
  • Workflow from capture to print
  • Post-processing secrets of the pros
  • And much more

"The variety of subjects found within the Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most appealing aspects for photographers. With an abundance of mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and streams peppered throughout, and Spring being in full tilt when we are there, that will be the icing on the cake!"

– – Mark Denney, Out of The Great Smoky Mountains Instructor


Keep yourself immersed in photography from sunrise to sunset. Each day will be an adventure as you explore The Great Smoky Mountains. Choose the locations you want and which instructors to learn from with daily hands-on, in-the-field photography sessions, evening campfire chats, porch side critiques and more. A range of field sessions will be available based on physical ability.

Day 1
Check in to Little Arrow Outdoor Resort (1 pm for RVs; 4 pm for cabins)
Conference check in (5:00 pm)
Meet & greet reception (6:00 pm)
Campfire dinner, S’mores & more
Welcome by Chris Smith, founder of Out of Chicago
Opening keynote presentation

Day 2, Day 3, Day 4
Sunrise field sessions
Group lunch
Afternoon and sunset field sessions
Dinner on your own or with new friends. (Food trucks will be available.)
Porch-side critiques and post-processing sessions

Day 5
Sunrise field session
Closing session and breakfast
Check out of Little Arrow (11am)

Location and Accommodation

Little Arrow Outdoor Resort, Townsend, Tennessee

Surrounded by miles of wilderness, the conference venue is at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort in Townsend, Tennessee. It is the perfect basecamp for photographers where you will find comfort in a tiny home, cabin, glamping tent, or your RV. Everything is within steps of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Daily, in-the-field excursions will take place throughout The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Conference presentations and classes will take place at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. Gather around the campfire at night with new photography mentors and friends or join a porch-side critique.

We have reserved all of the accommodations and the entire area of RV sites for our group. Once you register, we will send information for you to book directly with Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. Check out all your options here.

Little Arrow Outdoor Resort was voted the #1 glamping resort by USA Today and recognized by Trip Advisor with two Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Conference Price


Reserve with a deposit of $1000. The remaining balance is due 90 days before the event on January 25th, 2022. Event is limited to 100 attendees.

What’s included?
Opening Night Campfire Dinner
3 Lunches | 1 Closing Breakfast
Hands-on instruction from the top nature and landscape photographers
Daily hands-on workshops and in-the-field excursions
Small-group post-processing sessions, image reviews and porch-side critiques
Customized schedule to fit your interests

What’s not included?
Hotel, Airfare and Transportation
Some meals. Make something in your cabin or go out with fellow friends.​
Food trucks will be available as an option to purchase meals.

"When winter has passed, and the snow has melted, the forest floor comes alive with the colors of spring. From green to white, pink to yellow, the Smoky Mountains become a magical land of moss and wildflowers, abundant streams and mystical waterfalls."

– Jennifer King, Out of The Great Smoky Mountains Instructor

Key Details

You are responsible for your transportation. Townsend, Tennessee is less than one-hour drive from Knoxville. During the event, excursion groups will carpool together with other attendees to the shooting locations, or you can drive on your own.

We recommend everyone stay at the conference venue, Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. Part of the unique experience of this conference will be starting and ending each day together, whether hanging out with friends and instructors around the campfire or having coffee before a sunrise shoot. We have a block of accommodation available for you to reserve. Choose from RV sites, cabins, tiny homes, glamping tents, and more.

Accommodation options and prices are found here at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. If you choose to stay somewhere else, a guest pass is needed to enter the resort for an additional fee. Booking details will be sent to you when you sign up for the conference.

Receive 10% off your accommodation when you book before December 31, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

As nature photographers we have always wanted to hold an event in the great outdoors. With the changes we have made due to the pandemic this is the perfect opportunity to make this happen. When we saw Little Arrow Outdoor Resort for the first time, we realized that it met our needs for an outdoor conference yet also accommodated our needs for a variety of housing. Attendees have the option to camp but there are also options for cabins, tiny houses and vacation homes that offer much nicer amenities than most hotels –  including a new WiFi network throughout the campground. Little Arrow gives us the chance for an outdoor conference with the comfort of a luxury hotel.

In the evening, gather around the campfire, roast s’mores, visit the food trucks and retire in the cozy confines of your where you choose to stay.

Yes! McGhee Tyson International Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee is a 30-minute drive to Little Arrow Outdoor Resort in Townsend, Tennessee. Rental cars are easy to obtain.

We recommend everyone stay at the conference center, Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. Part of the unique experience of this conference will be starting and ending each day together, whether it’s hanging out with friends and instructors around the campfire or having coffee before a sunrise shoot.

We have a block of accommodations available for you to reserve at Little Arrow Outdoor Resort. Booking details will be sent to you when you sign up for the conference. Choose from RV sites, cabins, tiny homes, glamping tents, and more. Click here to view accommodation options and prices. If you choose to stay somewhere else, a guest pass is needed to enter the resort for an additional fee.

Receive 10% off your accommodation when you book before December 31, 2021.

After registering for your conference, you will get an email with details about the conference including key dates, hotel information and more. Be sure to stay connected via email to receive crucial event communication including surveys about your preferences and updates as needed.

We will send an email to registered attendees before the event and ask you who you want to work with, what you want to learn, and the locations you want to photograph. Our team will take this information to create your personalized schedule for the event. One of the benefits of attending our conferences is being able to work with and get to know a variety of instructors, with a diverse range of styles. It may not be possible to go in the field with the same instructor every day, but everyone will be able to work with their top instructor choices and photograph their top locations.

You do not need a park entrance pass to enter The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

We will release the full detailed schedule one month before the event. We’ll send information on choosing sessions at this time and give directions to choose sessions. Group presentations are open to everyone. In-the-field sessions are limited to 10 participants. All participants will have an equal opportunity to get into the sessions of their choice.

Photograph everything from misty sunrises with scenic mountain overlooks to woodland scenics with forested wildflower trails, waterfalls, rivers and so much more. The Great Smoky Mountains is an amazingly diverse photography location. Here are some to name just a few: Middle Prong, Ramsey Cascades, Porters Creek Trail, Roaring Fork, Tremont, Little River and Chimney Top, Foothills Parkway, Cades Cove, Roaring Fork, Elkmont, Clingman’s Dome, and Greenbriar.

There will be a variety shooting locations you can choose from ranging in difficulty level, including short and long hikes to excursions you can drive, get out of the car and start shooting.

We will split the group to accommodate all hiking abilities when necessary.

The focus of this conference is landscape photography, but this is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If we are lucky, and most are, you will be able to photograph black bears, deer, wolves and more.

Some of the excursions will have almost no walk where you can get out of the car and start shooting. Others may require a short or long hike, with variable terrain including hills and potentially rocky, uneven terrain.

We will split the group to accommodate all hiking abilities when necessary. Comfortable hiking shoes/boots are recommended.

Typically pleasant with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Spring brings a possibility of afternoon showers.

Be sure to bring appropriate weather gear. Remember that bad weather often makes the best images. Schedules will be re-arranged as needed to accommodate weather conditions.

Photography enthusiasts and pros. All levels of passionate photographers are welcome. Just be ready to eat, sleep and drink landscape photography for five days.

You’ll want a DSLR or mirrorless camera and a tripod. We’ll share detailed equipment recommendations before the event. A laptop is suggested so you can work on your images during the post-processing and critique sessions.

You bet! Throughout the week you’ll be busy shooting out in-the-field together, but in the evening there’ll be opportunities to talk around campfire or hang out on someone’s cabin porch. There will be plenty of time to ask questions and get to know your favorite photographers.

This is a hands-on, immersive photography experience. We’re not going to bring you all the way to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park to sit in a classroom watching something you could watch in bed on Youtube.

Over five days, you’ll learn new techniques in the field while shooting with some of the world’s best photographers. There will be classroom time to practice post-processing and get feedback on images, but you’ll be in the field most of the time. There will be plenty of options available each day for you to create a schedule that matches your interests, inside and outside the classroom.

Of course! They are welcome to join us for the group presentations at no charge. The in-the-field teaching excursions are limited to ten people and are reserved for conference attendees only. A meal pass will be offered at an additional charge so that they can join us for group meals.

If you are not staying at the resort, a guest pass is needed and available for an additional charge.

You can view all of the events you’re registered for by logging into your Out of Chicago account. In the upper right corner of the website, go to “my account” and “my conferences”. You should see your conference listed there. If it is not, please email us at support@outofchicago.com.

You can read the refund policy here.

Covid-19 Policy for Out of  The Great Smoky Mountains

  • Everyone must be either fully vaccinated or have proof of a negative covid test within 3-days of the start of the event.
  • Classes take place outdoors in the open air, so we will not require masks for this event.Please stay home if:
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • You have had close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days.

We will organize optional night field sessions for those that are interested.

There are several local restaurants nearby where you can enjoy everything from an upscale dining experience to down-home country cooking. The Townsend IGA Supermarket is five minutes away from supplies if you decide to prepare your meals at the campground.

After you register, you will receive a link to a private attendee forum where you can connect with other attendees and look for someone to share accommodation with.

Aside from it being an amazing shooting location in the spring, The Great Smoky Mountains is easy to drive or fly to, there are not park passes required and accommodations to meet everyone’s need.

We will provide options so you can keep going every minute of the day from sunrise to sunset or take a rest. The itinerary will allow for the choice to take time around lunch and in the evening to relax.

If you have any other questions, please email us at info@outofchicago.com

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