Bill Lea and the 1st Annual Western NC Foto Fest

I met Bill Lea in 1992 while I was working on the first edition of my North Carolina Waterfalls book. I had stopped by the ranger station for the Wayah District of Nantahala National Forest to ask about waterfalls and Bill just happened to be in the room. When he learned that I was a photographer, he invited me downstairs to his station to talk shop. When he couldn’t find a particular book he wanted me to see, he drove me to his home to get it.

I remember thinking that Bill must be the nicest person on the planet, but that wasn’t what struck me most. What I will never forget is how genuine he was in sharing his knowledge with me. At that time, Bill was already well established as a professional photographer. I saw his beautiful images everywhere, especially in Wildlife In North Carolina magazine where he was (still is) a regular contributor. I, on the other hand, was still a rank amateur. Bill had no idea who I was; all he knew was that here was a person who needed information and he gave it to me freely.

Any time I am busy or tired and don’t feel like answering yet another question from an aspiring photographer, I remember Bill taking time from work, loading me into his truck, and driving me to his home to retrieve a book that had information in it that I needed. That was the first of many lessons he would teach me over the years. Bill and I have become good friends and although he likes to tease me about surpassing him in the published book category, he will always be my mentor and I will always be the wide-eyed beginning photographer who got lucky and visited the Wayah Ranger Station while William S. Lea happened to be in the lobby. 

And so it is with great pleasure that I am announcing the 1st Annual Western North Carolina Foto Fest. I am honored to partner with Bill for this festival, which promises to be unlike any photography event you’ve ever experienced. Just the fact that Bill and I will be together, combining our passion and our dedication to helping others, makes the Foto Fest special enough, but we wanted to really push the limit. We took the best features of other popular photography events and pulled from our combined 55 years of photography experience to make this the must-attend photography event in the Southeast.

The Western North Carolina Foto Fest will be held annually on the second weekend after Labor Day in Brevard, NC. For 2010, the date is September 17-19. Registration is $145.

And the next time you see Bill Lea, how about thanking him for being such a good teacher for us all.

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2 Responses to “Bill Lea and the 1st Annual Western NC Foto Fest”

  1. Sai C Says:

    Wow! That’s definitely a treat for the photographers in WNC!! And I have to agree with you Kevin, Bill is not only an excellent teacher but also a compassionate person. I had the good fortune of running into him at Roan Mountain and while every other photographer was complaining about the fog and the inability to photograph, I learned the art of patience from Bill. He kept insisting that the fog would lift based on his prior experience. I am thankful that I took his advice and got a couple of great shots of the rhodies. He also went the extra mile to share his water and coke since I showed up unprepared for what turned out to be a long day. Thanks for sharing your story Kevin!

  2. admin Says:

    Sai, too bad you won’t be around for the Foto Fest. I’m missing you at Pounding Mill Overlook, too!

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