Workshop | Photo Tour Details

All of our workshops|photo tours have limited enrollment. At no time will there be more participants than our instructors can spend one-on-one time with. Usually there are no more than 6 participants per instructor. We understand the importance of having skilled and knowledgeable instructors and we promise to pay attention to your specific questions and concerns.
The number for enrollment will correspond to how many instructors we have available to assist participants.
Getting There:
Workshop|photo tour fees cover tuition expenses only. Travel to and from the workshop must be arranged by the participant but most people drive their own vehicles to the Smokies. No special vehicles will be required for any of our workshops/photo tours.
During the Workshop or Photo Tour:
Participants will need to carpool during the workshop|photo tour as there is generally limited parking space for vehicles at some of the shooting locations. Carpooling also allows participants to share experiences and create friendships. Unfortunately, due to insurance considerations, participants cannot carpool with instructors.
Participants are responsible for their own lodging during the workshop. Gatlinburg and the Smokies are very popular tourist destinations, however due to the numerous and varied lodging opportunities, finding accommodations is rarely a problem. To secure your first choice in lodging, we suggest you book your hotel as soon as you decide on attending the workshop. All of the hotels have reasonable cancellation policies and you should get a full refund of any lodging deposit if you cancel within a reasonable time period. Please check the specific hotel for their cancellation policy prior to booking.
Participants are responsible for their own meals during the workshop|photo tour, but due to our shooting schedules, lunch will be the primary meal of the day. Drinks and snacks may be left in vehicles as we will rarely be very far from our vehicles.
In some instances there will be additional fees associated with the trip. We will make you aware of any such fees before the workshop|photo tour. Unlike many of the US National Parks, there is no entrance fee charged in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are no additional Mountain Folk model fees however, if you wish to obtain a model release, there will be an additional $20 per model fee that goes directly to the Mountain Folk.
Smoky Mountain School of Photography Workshops and Photo Tours are open to anyone 18 years of age or older. Children under 18, who are interested in photography, may participate if accompanied by a participating parent or guardian.
A non-shooting spouse or friend is welcome to attend the workshop|photo tour but will be considered an additional participant and will be subject to the additional participant fee.
Most of our workshops|photo tours are not extremely strenuous, but they do require some physical activity. Participants should be able to walk up to two miles with gear in environments that include high altitudes, paved and unpaved paths which may or may not have uneven walking surfaces. Some workshops|photo tours may even require walking in areas where there are no pre-made paths. It is very important that you are able to assess your ability to embark on any shoot that requires any amount of physical exertion. Every workshop/photo tour is different since every workshop|photo tour is held in a different area of the Smokies. If you have questions about specific physical activities please do not hesitate to contact us with your concerns.
We reserve the right to make changes to any published or unpublished itineraries whenever, in our judgment, it serves to better or enhance the workshop experience. These changes may be due to a change in circumstances within any venue hosting the workshop, inclement weather, impassable roads, flower or fall color conditions, fire, flood, etc. Any change made to a workshop|photo tour schedule will be done only to ensure our participants receive the best workshop experience possible.
Cancellation By SMSOP:
Smoky Mountain School of Photography reserves the right to cancel a workshop|photo tour for reasons that include, but are not limited to lack of enrollment, acts of God, natural disasters (such as fire, flood, etc). We are not responsible for any incidental or consequential expenses or damages that you may incur as a result of the cancellation of a workshop. Due to this, we suggest that you not make airline reservations more than 60 days prior to the workshop|photo tour start date in order to minimize the risk of non-refundable expenses. You may wish to consider booking refundable flights and/or purchasing trip insurance to cover any potential and non-refundable expenses.
Cancellation By You:
Each workshop|photo tour has a specific number of days after which there will be no refunds issued in the event of your cancellation. (See each individual workshop|photo tour section for the relevant cancellation period.) If you cancel after you have paid your deposit but before the balance due date, then we will refund your deposit plus any other monies paid minus a 10% administration fee. We do not issue refunds after the final balance due date.
If you cancel after the balance due date and are not able to receive a refund, if you choose, we will transfer your payment to another workshop|photo tour being run at a later date – within certain restrictions. A transfer is available for any workshop|photo tour that falls within one year of the date of the workshop|photo tour you cancelled and ONLY IF 45 days prior to the start of the desired workshop/photo tour, there is still room available. If there is still room available at the 45-day point we will transfer your payment to that workshop|photo tour and guarantee you a space in that workshop/photo tour at that time. If the desired workshop|photo tour fills up prior to 45 days out, we will not be able to transfer you into that workshop|photo tour.
If the cost of the new workshop|photo tour is the same price or less, you will owe no further payment. If the new workshop|photo tour fee is higher than the payment you have already made, then you will only owe the difference between the two workshop|photo tour fees.
Note: There is one exception to the above ‘no refunds’ rule. If there is a waiting list for the workshop|photo tour, and someone is able to take your place in the workshop|photo tour, then you will receive a full refund of monies paid minus a 10% administration fee.

Frequently Asked Questions are answered here!

If you want to learn more about photography and improve your photographic skills in a fun-loving and supportive environment, then yes, a workshop|photo tour is for you. If you want to travel to amazingly beautiful and photographically stunning locations without ever having one worry about where to go and when to photograph, then yes, a photo workshop|tour is for you. If you want to arrive back home with beautiful images to share with your family and friends, then yes, a workshop|photo tour is for you. Or if you simply like photography and want an excuse to get away, then yes, a workshop|photo tour is for you.
Your workshop|photo tour is totally customizable to your needs. It typically will have 8 hours of shooting per day which may include sunrise, sunset, landscapes, macros, waterscapes, wildlife or whatever is available in the mountains during your time here. We can also spend time looking at how to process the images you captured if that is something that interest you or your group.
Yes and No. Our instructors may take their equipment into the field as teaching tools for our participants. Often, instructors can demonstrate how they would set up and shoot a particular subject with their own equipment far more efficiently than they can with the participants’ equipment. Our instructors will not do shooting for their own purposes during the workshop|photo tour. You may see the instructors shooting with their cameras from time to time but they will be doing so as teaching tools and to photograph the activities of the students during the workshops|photo tours for documentation and promotional purposes.
With the constant changes in photographic equipment this is a difficult question. The simple answer is whatever you are most comfortable with. Our instructors have no preferences about makes/models or formats. Our instructors have photographed with large format, medium format, film, slide and the latest digital equipment. Because of the seemingly endless changes made by the camera manufacturers, it is extremely important that you bring your cameras manual and keep it with you throughout the workshop|photo tour.

Today’s digital “equipment” cameras are truly marvels of science. Wonderful images can be made with a minimum of equipment and the proper techniques. Below are suggested equipment needs “but” — contact us with any questions you have.

Recommended Gear
A Digital SLR
Sturdy tripod and head
Wide angle lens
Normal Zoom lens
Telephoto lens
Macro lens or close-up filters
Circular polarizer filters for each lens
Graduated Neutral Density filters
Solid Neutral Density filters, etc.
Shutter release
Lens cloths
Photo backpack
Waterproof outer layers
Warm clothes
Walking boots
River Sandals
Camera Manuals

**Note: The above listed equipment is not an all-inclusive list nor is it a mandatory list. Bring what you have – although you may want to invest in the minimum of a circular polarizer if you don’t currently have one.

In order to get the most out of the workshop/photo tour, we recommend that participants have a DSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses – but it is not required. Numerous participants have brought high-end point and shoot digital cameras and have achieved very good results. At the very least, the camera should have the ability to manually change mode settings and be mounted onto a tripod.
No, but you will certainly want to bring enough storage cards that you don’t run out of memory for the time period of the workshop|photo tour. If the workshop|photo tour will include wildlife photography, memory cards will fill very quickly. You may wish to bring a laptop for your private use but we will be spending most of our time in the field.
Pocket Flashlight or Head Lamp
Cushion or Knee Pads
Hand towel for wiping off wet cameras
Field Notebook and Pen or Pencil
Larger Notebook for taking notes
Water Bottle
Bug Spray
Change of shoes
Snacks – energy bars or other snacks for while in the field
In the Smokies we never know what the weather will be so you must be prepared for cold to hot temperatures and certainly expect rain as the Smokies are a temperate rainforest and some of the best images are made when the forest is saturated in water. What this means is that you should bring a variety of clothes for any weather. Although this makes packing a little more cumbersome, you will not regret having too many articles of clothing with you.

2 jackets – one weatherproof light to medium weight and one light weight fleece type that can be worn under the weatherproof jacket
Warm clothing to wear in layers – short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, hooded sweatshirts, fleece
Coverings for extremities – hats, gloves, scarves, ear coverings, warm socks, comfortable waterproof hiking boots or hiking shoes with good tread.
Waterproof Clothing – we do not stop shooting just because it is raining. The best waterproof clothing is a waterproof jacket or jacket shell with a waterproof hood. Umbrellas can work but are cumbersome when dealing with photography equipment. Waterproof covering for backpacks and equipment.

We all have to walk before we run and we want everyone to enjoy the journey. You will find every skill level present on these workshops|photo tours. We create an environment where the beginner is free to mix with the advanced shooter. All questions and concerns are answered in a supportive and encouraging manner. The only ‘dumb’ question is the one that is never asked. We are happy to have anyone at any level. It is our ultimate goal to make sure that every participant goes home with more photographic knowledge than what they brought to the workshop|photo tour.
At a bare minimum, if you are not an experienced photographer, there is one thing that will help you immensely. Hold your camera in your hands. Turn it on. Make sure there is a memory card it in. Open your camera manual and read it cover to cover. Whatever the manual refers to, find it on the camera — push the button, flip the switch, turn the dial. This is the single best way to learn your camera. It will help you immensely in the field. Whatever you do, do not let the first day of the workshop be the first day your camera has been out of its box.
Even if you have been shooting for a little while, you may want to at least review how to change certain key things on your camera – know how to change your shutter speed, ISO and aperture at a bare minimum. Know how to change and charge batteries. Know how to change and format memory cards. Even if you don’t yet understand how all of these elements interact, you will at least know how to physically change them when the time comes.