Texas Tech University

Zack Knudsen - 1st Place - Into The Wild Photo Contest 2016

#IntoTheWild 2016 Photo Contest Winner Zack Knudsen discusses his award-winning photo in a personal interview with NRM staff.

Ashley Hogan: Where was this photo taken?

Zack Knudsen: The photo was taken in an area called the Chimney's Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is on the Tennessee and is a beautiful place to shoot.

AH: What inspired you to capture this particular photo?

ZK: I had seen this tree earlier in the year and took a similar shot but with the spring foliage in the scene. I was drawn to this tree for the way it lays over the river. My goal is to shoot the same scene in all four seasons. It will be tricky to get there for the winter scene as the road is often closed to this spot when snow is on the ground.

AH: What's your affiliation to Texas Tech?

ZK: My affiliation to Texas Tech is my wicked-smart brother Jonathan Knudsen is a graduate student.

AH: How has your interest in photography grown over time into a hobby?

ZK: I am lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country and am constantly inspired by the landscape and skies in the Great Smoky Mountains. I am also a natural early riser, so I would see some sweet sunrises. As part of my day job I was asked to take photos of various events, and was lucky to meet a few photographers who encouraged and mentored me. I thought I wanted to photograph mostly people, but have a new grown affinity for landscapes. It is a great way to get out and be in nature.

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"Autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park"

Photo credit: Zack Knudsen

Zack Knudsen graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2005 with a degree in Theatre Performance with an emphasis in musical theatre. He currently works as an an Employment Brand Manager for Dolly Parton's theme park, Dollywood.

Ashley Hogan is an assistant in the Department of Natural Resources Management. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BS in International Economics in 2016. She also works for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.