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Local photographer’s entry selected for national calendar
Calendar - Ian Riley.jpg
Local photographer Ian Riley took the picture of the concert at Cumberland Caverns.
Calendar - Cumberland Caverns.jpg
Local resident Ian Riley took this photograph of the Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns which was selected to appear in a 2021 calendar. Skyward, a scholastic software manufacturer, holds an annual contest and selects submissions from photographers both nationally and internationally to showcase.

Local resident Ian Riley’s photograph of an event in the Volcano Room at Cumberland Caverns has earned the August slot on a calendar with national and international entries.

The calendar is published by Skyward, a software company specializing in K-12 school management technologies.

“Skyward has a photo contest each year for their calendar,” said Riley. “They ask school districts who use their software to submit images showing community events. I was asked by the technology director for Warren County Schools, Katrina Haley, if I had any images that might work for this. I sent her quite a few options and she selected a few to submit to Skyward.”

The photo Skyward chose had been shot by Riley for another purpose entirely.

“I was shooting for the Tourism Development Board,” Riley explained. “Images from this shoot are being used to advertise and market McMinnville and Warren County for tourism. I had no idea the calendar existed at that point.”

The perspective of Riley’s photograph is from above the crowd and stage in the Volcano Room as the Nashville band Forlorn Strangers performs to a full house during a 2018 show. 

The room’s chandelier is at the same height as the camera and is fully aglow along with soft hues of blue and magenta from the stage lights. 

Riley does a lot of commercial work for advertising and marketing in healthcare for corporations. 

“My images are on websites, in brochures, and on billboards but they usually don’t have my name on them,” he said.

Although the majority of his work is commercial, occasionally those assignments call for portrait work, which Riley enjoys most of all.

“I enjoy working with people and trying to capture a natural expression of who they are. Some of my favorite projects have been shooting environmental portraits of employees for companies. Those jobs run from showing a nurse at work in the ER to a restaurant kitchen during the dinner rush.”

Riley is a Sevierville native who moved to Warren County with his wife Michaela a few years ago.

“We were living in Nashville and wanted to get out of the city,” said Riley. “I missed the mountains from growing up in Sevierville and Michaela missed being close to nature and the woods from her childhood in Oregon and Washington. We wanted to be close enough for my work but far enough away to have easy access to my work but far enough away to have easy access to nature.”