Written and photos by Steve Zigler, lead instructor for the 2021 Springtime in the Smokies Photography Workshop

A blog post to discuss an upcoming photography workshop typically involves tips and techniques for creating images that attendees are proud to display on walls, share on social media, give away to friends, and maybe even sell one or two. I’m not going to do that. Instead, as I anticipate the upcoming Springtime in the Smokies Photography Workshop, I want to talk about family. Specifically, I want to talk about the Tremont family, a group that has come to be collectively known as the “Tremonsters.”

My involvement with the Tremont photography workshops began when I was an attendee in the autumn of 2006. I remember it well. It was one of my first photography workshops and it changed me forever. Back in those days, I had just begun to take photography seriously and I was thirsty for knowledge and experience to elevate my images to a new level. I wanted to create images that would make me proud and I thought workshops would be a great way to achieve this. And since I lived near the Smokies, it only made sense to attend a workshop based in the heart of the national park. Little did I know at the time that, with my first Tremont workshop, I’d begin a decades-long affair with Tremont that continues to this day.

Middle Prong in Tremont photographed during the Spring

Surprisingly, my love for the Tremont workshops is not about the awesome locations we visit during a workshop. Sure, that comes with the territory, but what made me return to the workshops again and again were the people I met. I can’t tell you how many close friends I have today who I first met attending a workshop at Tremont. There is a profound sense of family among Tremont workshop attendees and alumni. Anyone who has attended a Tremont workshop will agree with me. Tremont is a family!

Trees and rays of sunlight photographed along the Foothills Parkway

Early on, my Tremont family taught me that photography workshops aren’t about images. Photography workshops are about experiences. Don’t get me wrong, when I attend a workshop, I expect to come home with great images; however, the primary emphasis for me is the workshop experience: the images are a secondary outcome of the experience. Even better, I’ve learned that by expanding my experiences, my passion for photography grows commensurately, which in turn improves my ability to create meaningful images. In effect, my Tremont family helped me discover a wonderful cycle. The more I focus on the experience, the more passionate I become about photography, and the better my images become. This fuels a yearning for new experiences, which leads to more passionate living and so on and so on and so on. It’s a wonderful self-reinforcing cycle. The more I put into it, the more I get out of it.

Over the years, I’ve expanded my role in the Tremont family by becoming a volunteer instructor and I now lead the Springtime in the Smokies workshop. Outside my Tremont family, my personal experiences have grown to include travel to the far reaches of the globe and interests across countless aspects of photography and the creative arts. However, I always look back to my Tremont family as a pivotal element in the early stages of my journeys. I’ve had the pleasure of watching a similar evolution in other members of the Tremont family as they grow and build their skills and experiences to the point where some have gone on to become well-known photographers who spread the joy of photography in their own way. I can’t speak for them, but I’d like to think that their involvement in the Tremont family has shaped them in a similar fashion as it has shaped me.

The Smoky Mountains photographed from the Foothills Parkway

I’ve lost count, but I estimate that I’ve now taken more than 50 photography workshops, many from world-class photographers all around the globe. I’ve also assisted other photographers as they’ve led their own workshops and tours. I’ve made many photography friends along the way and I can say without question that the Tremont photography experience is singularly unique. There is nothing like Tremont.

Springtime in the Smokies workshop participants in 2016

Springtime in the Smokies workshop participants, 2016

In fact, one of my great rewards in life is to call myself a member of the Tremonster family of photographers. In addition to many rewarding Tremont experiences, the images I’ve garnered during the Tremont workshops over the years aren’t too bad either. I’ve included several here with this post. Most of the images were taken during workshops, but I’ve included some of my favorites from other times to illustrate the possibilities.

I hope to see you in April! Come experience Springtime in the Smokies with me and the Tremont family!

Springtime in the Smokies Photography Workshop

Steve is the lead instructor for Tremont’s Springtime in the Smokies Photography Workshop (April 23–26, 2021). This workshop covers the use of light, composition, and equipment to capture beautiful mountain landscapes, intimate stream scenes, close-ups, wildlife, sunrises, and more. Learn more and register »

To learn more about Steve or to contact him, visit his website (www.stevezigler.com).