Trading in New York's skyscrapers for the rugged peaks and dense forests of North Carolina was never part of the plan for photographer and psychologist Mike Poggioli. But the dramatic setting of the Blue Ridge National Park and Smokey Mountains were enough to entice him. Having swapped cityscapes for dramatic landscapes, Poggioli's brand new book, Blue Ridge Dreaming transports you to the stunning wilderness of North Carolina, Soth Carolina, Tennesse and Virginia from the comfort of your own home.
Featuring over 70 color photos printed on high-quality uncoated paper in a cloth-bound spine, Blue Ridge Dreaming is the accumulation of Poggioli's newfound passion for nature. Now firmly settled in Asheville, Poggioli intends to continue exploring his surroundings and capturing the diverse, colorful array of landscapes on his doorstep.
Mike is a photographer and psychologist living in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. His first photo book, Blue Ridge Dreaming, is coming out in late fall 2022 on Trope (opens in new tab). It contains over 70 of his favorite images taken at sunrise and sunset in the mountains along with poetry from well-known and local writers.
Why did you move from New York to North Carolina?
I left New York to teach in Chicago. After three years there, I moved to Cincinnati for graduate school in clinical psychology. I moved to Asheville five years later after matching there for a clinical psychology internship. I never thought I’d live in North Carolina, let alone, the south, but there was something about the Blue Ridge Mountains that I fell in love with. I spent one year in Roanoke, Virginia, for a post- doctoral fellowship, and then just last year, settled back in Asheville for good. I’ve been drawn to Asheville's eclectic, creative energy and its access to the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains!
Have you always been drawn to beautiful landscapes?
I’ve always been drawn to beauty in general but living near major urban centers for most of my life, really focused my photography on street scenes and cityscapes. I’d spend full days just walking around the city and snapping photos, particularly in New York City, Chicago, and Cincinnati. It wasn’t until I moved to Asheville when I decided to embrace the change in scenery. I started driving the Blue Ridge Parkway during sunrise and stopping at every overlook I could to take in the gorgeous mountain layers.
Are there any images from the book you're particularly proud of and if so, how come?
This is hard to answer, because as I look back at the images in the book, each one holds a fond memory and story. It should come as no surprise that the cover photo is one of my favorites. It captures a moment that almost didn’t happen if I hadn’t decided to pull off the side of the road and wait for the fog to clear. The autumn colors were at peak, the cloud inversion was just clearing, the morning sun shining, and a lone cabin emerged. It was a moment I don’t think I could ever recreate.
What's your favorite season to photograph?
Autumn, without a doubt. I love everything about fall (like the cooler temperatures) and have always been drawn to warmer colors.
Have you for plans to create more photobooks?
No official plans in the works right now. But I would love to do another edition of Blue Ridge Dreaming. There are so many beautiful places in these mountains, and this book only scratches the surface. Since sending these photos to print, I already have hundreds more waiting to be shared!
Why did you choose to go with Trope to publish Blue Ridge Dreaming?
I had already developed a good relationship with the Trope team after working with them on their City Series books for Chicago, and upcoming New York City, photobooks. They are incredibly supportive and lent me all the artistic autonomy I could ask for on this Blue Ridge Dreaming project. Because of working with Trope, I can confidently say that this photobook represents my authentic photographic vision for the Blue Ridge area.
Have you always wanted to be a photographer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?
I started taking pictures after I got a point-and-shoot camera as a pre-teen. It turned into a fun hobby, but I didn’t really take it very seriously. I started my freshman year in college majoring in architecture, then I switched to psychology, and my first job out of college was teaching! I’ve been practicing as a full-time clinical psychologist for about a year now, but throughout all these changes, photography has always been with me as a vital creative outlet.
What countries are top of your list for photography?
I’d love to tour Italy, Germany, and Japan with my camera.
Can you describe an average day in your life?
My typical day involves seeing therapy clients while drinking plenty of coffee. I walk the dog and lounge with the cats in the evening. I’ll usually read or edit pictures at night when my creativity peaks. On weekends, I will try to shoot at least one sunrise or sunset or explore a nearby mountain town.
What are your thoughts on Instagram as platform for sharing your work?
Instagram was once the primary platform for photographers. Now that Insta has adopted Reels and seems to be in competition with Tik Tok, the algorithm seems to favor video creators. As a result, I’ve seen many photographers adapt to learn video editing in order to get a similar level of exposure. It just doesn’t seem to be the same favorable place for photographers it once was. With that being said, I still connect with many photographers on an individual level; it’s a great way to keep in touch with photographers around the world and to meet new ones locally!
Blue Ridge Dreaming will be available to buy directly from Trope Publishing (opens in new tab) for $39; international orders will be available from Winter 2022.