Western North Carolina Foto Fest — The East’s “Burning Man”

So I’ve been out of touch for a while here on the blog. September is among my busiest months. Bill Lea and I hosted the annual Western North Carolina Foto Fest this past weekend in Montreat, NC, wheres some 250 people attended from all over the country.

Foto Fest is a lot of work and takes a lot of my time, but it’s also a lot of fun. It great to see old friends and meet new ones during the event. Everyone we talked to said this year was the best one yet, and I have to agree.

Photo by Edgar Payne

A special treat during Foto Fest is the Thursday night light-painting session on Lake Susan. This year, I enlisted an assistant to operate the paddleboat so it wouldn’t float away on me like it did last year. Captain Michael Rudawski did a fine job keeping the boat in place while I played with the fire. I felt like a kid again, setting things on fire and watching them burn, but at least this time I didn’t get my rear end burned with a hickory branch!

Photo by Skip Pudney

The first two images are from Edgar Payne and Skip Pudney, two of the many photographers who lined the lakeshore taking pictures. Edgar won second place in the Hand Of Man category of the Foto Fest contest with a cool image of hot air balloons at night. The last image comes courtesy of Wayne Anders, who won first place in the closeup category with a really nice shot of a flower.

The last photo needs a little explaining for those of you who have never attended Foto Fest. A tradition of Foto Fest is that I wear my kilt during the event, much to the chagrin of Bill, who would prefer not to share the stage with a man in a “skirt.” I keep hoping that one day Bill will accept me for who I am, but, alas, that’s not the only issue that confronts me during Foto Fest. As illustrated by Wayne’s image, I have a very difficult time making certain decisions.

Image courtesy of Wayne Anders

As you might surmise, Foto Fest is a lot of fun for everyone. I invite you to join us next year on September 11-14 for our fifth anniversary. We’ll unveil the speakers and program on the Foto Fest website on January 1.

Think about it. Where else are you going to photograph a man wearing a dress, while playing with fire in the middle of a lake?

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