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Tennessee State Parks Visitor Spotlight: David Huff

David Huff traces the birth of his photography career to a hike with his dog. About 14 years ago, he was hiking near Montreat, a small North Carolina town about thirty minutes east of his Asheville home. To escape a hailstorm, he and his dog huddled underneath rhododendron bushes.


A man with white stubble and a bucket hat gives the thumbs up sign with green mountains behind him under a blue sky with fluffy clouds in Rocky Fork State Park in Tennessee
David Huff on top of Whitehouse Cliffs in Rocky Fork State Park; photo by David Huff

When it was safe to emerge, Huff decided to try out a new feature of the camera he was carrying. He stretched out on the ground and began taking photos with his macro function, a setting that allowed him to capture details of the wet plants in front of him while everything else in the frame remained out of focus. “I looked at what I had shot, and that's when I discovered depth of field. And, and my mind just blew up,” he remembered. His interest in photography bloomed into a passion that he now shares with his clients.


Huff describes his work as “conservation photography” because, in one sense, it becomes part of his subject’s history. When he photographs historic buildings, he captures their condition before, during, and after renovations.  He has photographed work at the Walker sisters’ cabin in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Washington D.C’s Folger Shakespeare Library before it was renovated. “I really enjoy having photography that documents, and then people can go back 100 years from now or 200 years from now and go, ‘Wow, that’s what it looked like,’” he explained. 


Huff also views “conservation photography” as a tool to encourage others to help preserve the natural world. He is inspired by the work of George Masa, an early 20th century photographer from Japan. Masa lived in Asheville, and his photos of the region helped secure funding and support for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Masa also helped map trails that became the Appalachian Trail and was a member of the Carolina Mountain Club


The Carolina Mountain Club is still active after 100 years, and Huff is a member and the Club’s Councilor for Communications. He is also responsible for maintaining a 2.5 mile section of the Appalachian Trail, and he serves as chair of the George Masa Foundation, a nonprofit that encourages youth to protect the environment. 


Water flows over rocks and moss-covered rocks surround the stream in Rocky Fork State Park in Tennessee
Rocky Fork State Park; photo by David Huff

And of course, he photographs the beauty of our natural world, including Pisgah National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and Shenandoah National Park. His website also features one state park: East Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park. 

 

Even though Huff lives in North Carolina, Rocky Fork is his closest state park. He learned about it during COVID when he moved to another area of Asheville, and he still visits frequently. “It's this jewel, it's this sweet little spot,” he said. When he isn’t photographing Rocky Fork’s streams and wildflowers, he spends his time in the park mountain biking and hiking. He enjoys climbing the steep Whitehouse Cliffs Trail, and last summer, he snorkeled in the park with his nephew who was visiting from Australia. 


An older man and a young man pose in front of a creek with snorkeling goggles and breathing tubes on their heads in Rocky Fork State Park in Tennessee
David Huff snorkels with his nephew in Rocky Fork State Park; photo by David Huff

Huff enjoys seeing others spending time in Rocky Fork as well. He fondly remembers one visit where he watched two children get so excited to cook fish they had just caught with their grandfather. 


“I think that's one of the things I enjoy about public lands,” he said. “It doesn't matter who you are or who you know; these are our lands to enjoy. And so that's very American to me - that everybody can enjoy them.”


 

Information for this post came from these sources:


January 30, 2024 interview with David Huff

January 23, 2024 and January 30, 2024 email communication with David Huff


February 19, 2024

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