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
"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.
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
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
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.
(Accommodation update as of 11/22/2021.)
There are still RV sites available at Little Arrow. Receive 10% off your accommodation when you book before December 31, 2021. If you are interested in reserving one of those, be sure to book before December 31st, 2021 when these sites will be released to the public. Interested in camping, but don’t have an RV? Check out the option to rent an RV from Outdoorsy.com. They will deliver an RV to Little Arrow and set it up for you making it super easy and fun. All other accommodation is full at Little Arrow.
We have a block of rooms available for you to reserve at Tremont Lodge, a 5-minute drive from the conference venue. The room rate is $110 per night. Once you register, we will send details for you to book directly with Tremont Lodge.
Airbnb and Vrbo
Be sure to check out Airbnb and VRBO’s in Townsend, Tennessee. There are plenty of cute cabins nearby to stay!
Little Arrow Outdoor Resort was voted the #1 glamping resort by USA Today and recognized by Trip Advisor with two Travelers’ Choice Awards.
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.
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.
"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
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.
There are a variety of options within steps of the conference venue and 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. We recommend the following:
There are still RV sites available. All other accommodation is full at Little Arrow. Receive 10% off your RV site when you book before December 31, 2021. If you are interested in reserving an RV site, be sure to book before December 31st, 2021 when these sites will be released to the public. Interested in camping, but don’t have an RV? Check out the option to rent from Outdoorsy.com. They can deliver an RV to your reserved site at Little Arrow and set it up making it super easy and fun.
We have a block of rooms available for you to reserve at Tremont Lodge, a short 5-minute drive from the conference venue.
Airbnb and Vrbo
Be sure to check out Airbnb and VRBO’s in Townsend, Tennessee. There are plenty of cute cabins nearby to stay!
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.
Once you register, we will send more information for you to reserve your accommodation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com