When visiting a place, like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, for the first time (as I did a couple of weeks ago), it can feel a little overwhelming. So much beauty, where does one even start?!
Before my responsibilities at the Great Smoky Mountains Photography Summit began, I took a quick scouting trip along Tremont Road. I made a few “happy snaps,” but mainly so I could start sorting out my budding connections with the Middle Prong of the Little River. I continued visualizing possible images while leading two of my three summit groups to the spots that had initially grabbed my attention. When I teach workshops, teaching always takes precedence over making my own images, so I didn’t click the shutter once.
When I happened to get a few hours off from my workshops and presenting, I rushed back to the Lower Tremont area to try out some of my photographic ideas. But each time I set up along the shoreline, I felt like I was forcing things to happen too much. I stopped photographing and started listening to the river.
I took my shoes off, rolled up my pant legs, and walked into the flow with my tripod acting as my stabilizer. To feel the water, to be the water. The refreshing coolness of the stream, the pulsing current, the smooth shape of the rocks beneath my arches. It felt comforting. It instantly put me into my own flow state.
After only a few minutes of wading around, I turned to look upstream and saw this composition with little to no thought running through my brain. I fell in love with the scene, so I made this image…which was infinitely more appealing than anything I had previously visualized.
The value of my earlier visualizations, though, did not go to waste. The purpose of visualization–or picturing your pictures before you photograph them–is not to develop a strict checklist of “what you MUST photograph.” Rather, the process helps you practice and prepare for the “big game.” For me, it was a way to strengthen my bond with the location without any pressure or expectations to photograph a scene, ask a bunch of “what if I did this…” questions, and understand my photographic vision in a place I had never been to before which, no doubt, helped me eventually create “In the Flow.”
“But when I am alone in the half-light of the canyon, all existence seems to fade to a being of my soul and memories, and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm, and the hope that a fish will rise. Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” ~Norman Maclean
Yes! That, Guy! 🙂
How about a fall trip to the smokies for 2019.
Count me in
I like the idea, Isabel! Lemme see what I can do…stay tuned!
The Great Smokey Mountains and all of the Western North Carolina Appalachian Mountain range is wonderful for a Landscape photographer. Colleen, if you are interested in exploring the area further in 2018 I would love to introduce you to Highlands, NC and the three National Forests that surround the town. The Nantahala National Forest, the Chatahoochee National Forest, and the Sumter National Forest are all exquisite. A short distance away in the Pisgah National Forest which adjoins the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. This is a beautiful area of the world, and I would love to have you come stay with me to explore the area further. You have my e-mail!
Thanks for the invite, Linder! Spending time in the Smokies and getting a taste of North Carolina afterwards certainly piqued my interest in the surrounding area. Seems like there’s a lot of beauty to explore out there. I’m not sure my schedule will enable me to return in 2018, but you never know…if (more like when) I head back out that way, I’ll let you know!
[…] In the Flow Read more about how and why I made this image during my first visit to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee in November on my blog post, “In the Flow.” […]