I mentioned last week what a great time I had at the Tremont Institute’s Spring Photography Workshop up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One of the things I love about this workshop is that it pushes me to think about what I’m doing behind the camera. Head instructor Bill Lea is adamant about you taking pictures that you like; images that speak to you. Any conversation with him or the other instructors about your images will quickly lead to questions like “what were you going for with this image” or “what was your vision for this photo when you took it?”. I love this type of dialog because it forces me to think… was I just snapping away, or did I truly have a plan.
Enter the stream scene.
I grew up looking at images taken by family friend Roger Givens. Roger is an extremely talented bird and butterfly photographer in addition to his wonderful general wildlife and nature photography. His images of Cades Cove and the surrounding mountains and streams inspired me to pick up a camera… a camera that he gave me. Following in the footsteps of such great photographers as Roger and Bill is a great way to catch vision… but it can leave you feeling like somewhat of a copy cat. When I approach stream scenes in particular, I can’t help but thinking I’ve seen this picture before; and frankly with so many photographers in the area taking wonderful pictures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I probably have. I struggle with that simply because I don’t feel like I’ll be coming away with anything unique. Probably silly… but these are the things that run through my head as I’m taking pictures.
Last year me and the small group of classmates I was running around with stopped just past this bridge on Tremont Road. I was feeling rather uninspired so I was trying to force myself to look for a unique composition and possibly come home with a stream picture that I actually liked. Having climbed rocks for so many years, climbing up on stuff pops in my head probably quicker then it does most people’s… and it has left me with zero fear of heights or falling. Sometimes I’m not sure that’s healthy. Anyway, I decided to climb under the bridge and see if I could incorporate this man-made structure with the beauty that God had placed before me. I didn’t get it right last year, but I went back this year with a plan and this is the picture I brought home. Totally unique? Well, who knows… but I at least captured the image I had in my head.