sunset at the swamp ©Celso Gonzalez-Falla

Back to the Swamp! 

South x Southeast’s Sixth Okefenokee Swamp/Cumberland Island Workshop will be held March 29th – April 2nd, 2023.

One of our most requested workshops, the Okie/Cumberland Workshop will let you explore two of Earth’s most diverse eco-systems within an hour’s drive of each other –  both as pristine as they were thousands of years ago. Along with the second-oldest city in the United States of America, St. Marys – a true gem of historical architecture, waterfront, flora, and fauna.

Please join us for three days of boating, shooting, critiquing, and walking through history.

This year we are honored to have Peter Essick as our instructor. Please see his bio below.


Wednesday – St. Marys, Georgia

Arrive, settle in, and enjoy the day exploring the historic town of St. Marys, the second-oldest city in the U.S.A.

SxSE Headquarters will be housed in downtown historic St. Marys, Ga at the Rose-Lovell House on Weed Street. From here on to be known as The House.

The House is where we will gather to view and critique images, enjoy social hours and meals, hang out on the porch, talk photography, and set off for walks around St. Marys historic streets, churches, and cemeteries.

It will also serve as a rendezvous point for our trips to the Swamp and Cumberland Island.

Wednesday Evening Rose Lovell House, St. Marys, Georgia

Peter will give a presentation of his work, and we’ll enjoy a social hour and the Welcome Dinner. 

Thursday – Cumberland Island

Known for its pristine beaches, wild horses, and historical architecture, Cumberland is a gem  on the East Coast

Our ferry leaves at 9am for a 30 minute ride to Cumberland Island, returning in the afternoon at 4:45.

On board the Cumberland Queen heading for the island, October, 2021 ©nmccrary


During our day on Cumberland we’ll enjoy a private van and tour guide who will take us to Plum Orchard Mansion, the Settlement, Cumberland Island Wharf, First African Baptist Church, and anywhere else we choose and time allows.

We will provide brown-bag lunches, snacks, and bottled water for an all-day affair on one of the most magical islands in the world.


Friday AM – Okefenokee Swamp

Sunrise is 7:30am – We leave the Boat Basin at 7:00am!

Heading out for sunrise on the prairie with setting full moon. Okefenokee, 2016 ©nmccrary


We’ll have breakfast biscuits dockside before floating up the pitch-dark canal pre-sunrise. Our experienced guide (who knows the Okefenokee like the back of his hand) will point out alligators returning to roost, birds just awakening, and plants coming to life as the first light of dawn begins to break.


For 2-3 hours, we’ll shoot the sunrise, the prolific wildlife, the cypress trunks, black water, did I mention the alligators? We’ll watch as the water lilies, no-wet’ems and other beautiful flowers open with the sun, and as the water fowl begin to stretch their wings and start the day.

Friday PM- Return to the Swamp for Sunset and Moonrise

Returning to the boat basin @9:30am, we’ll break during the day before meeting at 3pm to head back to the swamp for sunset and moonrise.

Around 4:15pm, a Low Country boil will be served dockside before we float out to meet the sunset at 7:45 and the rise of the waxing gibbous moon. We’ll experience an entirely different view from the morning. You won’t believe you’re in the same place!


Saturday – Free Form Day!

Resurrection Ferns, St. Marys, Ga. 2018 ©nmccrary


Want to return to the Swamp?

Catch the Ferry to Cumberland for a few shots you might have missed?

Head down the highway to the Alligator Farm in Jacksonville? Now, there’s a treat.

Or, hang around the House reviewing images and shooting in St. Marys?

Saturday is your day, fill it however you want! The House will be open for your convenience.

Saturday afternoon at 4pm we’ll meet for a group critique of our work at the House before our Farewell Dinner

What previous workshop participants are saying….

As a participant in the South x Southeast Photography workshop experience with Peter Essick, I appreciated the opportunity to explore being among trees and moving water.  That was a new way of seeing in the area we photographed.  The group dynamics were lively and supportive.

I felt the support of Peter and that we had time in most settings to take “more time” to explore a different angle or advantage of light.

I particularly liked the learning aspect about Cumberland and the Okefenokee.

Great all round experience.

Thank you Nancy for your organizational skills and gathering a congenial group of fellow photographers. —Wanda Hopkins


I have been on several trips with Nancy McCrary and they never disappoint. She always engages photographers who are helpful and willing to share their knowledge.  Her attention to detail with regard to accomodations, meals, daily outings, and other logistics is thorough and she attracts talented and considerate photographers.  Nancy herself is a wonderful artist and very accessible.  Her workshops appeal to any level of photographer.  There are always professionals who attend, but if you’ve only just begun she encourages everyone to share knowledge.  The groups she leads are supportive and I learn something new every time.  After having photographed full-time for a decade, I rarely attend workshops anymore.  That being said, I always love going to ones Nancy organizes since they are always in beautiful places and so much fun.  –Lynne Buchanan


In October 2021 I participated in a photography workshop organized by Nancy McCrary, director and founder of SxSE.  The workshop was led by a well known Atlanta photographer Peter Essick. 

It was a very fulfilling experience.  Nancy McCrary showed off her fantastic organizational skills.  The photo excursions on St. Mary’s, Cumberland Island, and to the Okefenokee Swamp were great adventures and a paradise for us photographers. I met many interesting people and had a chance to learn more about Nancy and her wonderful ways of interacting with people.  She provided camaraderie, great food, and wonderful places to photograph. Peter Essick shared readily his photographic knowledge and offered constructive criticism.  The workshop was a unique experience that I would love to repeat. –Malgorzata Florkowska

Package Includes:


Wednesday’s meet-and-greet wine and cheese at The House

Wednesday’s Welcome Dinner at The House

Thursday’s Lunch, Snacks, and Beverages on Cumberland Island + social hour at the house when we return

Friday’s Breakfast at the Swamp and Dinner at the swamp, plus a postprandial social hour of wine and dessert on the boat while we watch the sun set and the moon rise

Saturday’s Social Hour and Farewell Dinner in St. Mary’s

Transportation and Fees:

Private boat rides, with tour guides, in the Okefenokee Swamp Friday morning sunrise, and Friday evening sunset

Ferry to Cumberland Island Thursday morning, return Thursday Afternoon.

Private van, and tour guide, for 6 hours on Cumberland Island.

Entry Fee to the Okefenokee Swamp

Entry Fee to Cumberland Island



Peter Essick

Peter Essick is a photographer, author, speaker, instructor, and drone pilot who specializes in nature and environmental themes. Named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photography Magazine UK, Essick has been influenced by many noted American landscape photographers from Carleton Watkins to Robert Adams. His goal is to make photographs that move beyond mere documentation to reveal in careful compositions the human impact of development as well as the enduring power of the land

Essick is the author of two books of his photographs, The Ansel Adams Wilderness, and Our Beautiful, Fragile World. He has had solo exhibitions of his work at the Booth Western Art Museum, Yoho National Park: A Canadian Gem, and at Lumière Gallery, Compositions in Nature. Essick has photographed stories for National Geographic on many environmental issues including climate change, high-tech trash, nuclear waste, and freshwater. Essick’s photographs are in public and private collections. He is represented by Spalding Nix Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia and Cavan Images, New York, New York.

Currently, Essick’s book of his photographs about Fernbank Forest, an urban old-growth forest in Atlanta, was published by Fall Line Press in Spring 2020.

Logistics and Critique:

Nancy McCrary

Nancy McCrary is the Editor and Publisher of South x Southeast Photomagazine, founded in 2011. In 2015 Nancy began South x Southeast Workshops and remains the director. She is the director of South x Southeast Gallery, began in 2017 and exhibiting the work of emerging and established photographers throughout the world. She was co-director of SlowExposures Photography Festival for 8 years. Before South x Southeast Nancy had a career in niche publishing with positions are managing editor and marketing director for several magazines. She has reviewed portfolios at PhotoNOLA, LOOK3, SlowExposures, Click! Photo Festival and for private clients. She practices photography but mostly enjoys encouraging, and exhibiting the work of others.


You provide:

Transportation to and from St. Mary’s, Georgia

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:

Planes: The closest airport is Jacksonville, Florida and we will be glad to pick up anyone arriving from there on Wednesday morning and leaving on Sunday afternoon. Please check with us on times before you book your flights.

Trains: Sorry, but unless you’re hopping a boxcar there are no trains to St Marys and the closest Amtrak is 60 miles away.

Automobiles: You may rent a car at the Jacksonville airport or through Enterprise in St. Marys – (less expensive, and we’ll deliver you there). If you’re coming from a metropolitan area and would like to carpool, please let us know and we’ll put you in touch with anyone else who may be traveling from the same area.

Alcohol: Outside of social hours provided by SxSE alcohol will not be provided. You may, of course, purchase your own.


Hotels: There are 2 hotels in St. Marys: Cumberland Inn and Suites and The Riverview Hotel. I’d be tempted to try The Riverview for the ambiance and location, but The Cumberland Inn is more modern. However, there are lovely B&Bs in St Marys, charming homes on VRBO,  and chain hotels with good ratings just up the road in Kingsland ( home of the Naval Submarine Base ). And there’s always the Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island – please let us know if you’re staying there so we can visit you! If we can be of assistance, please let us know. And, if you’d like to share a home or a room please let us know and we’ll be glad to extend your query to the others.


TOTAL Fee: $2250 – by check

$2336, if paying by credit or debit card. There is a 3.8% processing fee.

click Here to Register with a credit card.

If paying by check, e to register

Questions? email


Good Information:


With an average high of 73 and an average low of 55 March is a perfect time for the Georgia coast.

What to Bring:

Camera, batteries, tripod, hat, sunglasses, closed-toed shoes (Okefenokee requires these), layers of clothes to peel off as the day warms up, backpacks, sunscreen, bug repellent, and a good attitude!


Okefenokee Swamp – National Park Service Site

Okefenokee Swamp – Fish and Wildlife Site

Cumberland Island National Seashore – National Park Service Site

Cumberland Island Horses Wikipedia Site,_Georgia

St Marys, Georgia Wikipedia site,_Georgia

Look forward to seeing you on the Coast soon!