• Roger W. Downes

The Magic of Benjamin Walls...

From photographing the natural world to hosting luxury vacations all while helping to save endangered species, this is the magic of Benjamin Walls...

Over eleven million people visit Asheville, North Carolina each year, drawn in by its proximity to eight national and state forests that offer hundreds of thousands of acres of exploration and adventure in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Accompanying that spirit of adventure, Asheville is home to a wide variety of artisans who you will find scattered throughout the downtown district.

Be inspired by Benjamin Walls in the above podcast

However, with any group creatives there are always a few who rise to stand above the rest and one of those individuals is Natural World Photographer, Benjamin Walls. By the time Walls was in his thirties he had already achieved prestigious achievements and awards that the majority of photographers only dream about. A few of those include becoming a five-time Smithsonian exhibitor and a two-time Natural History Museum of London exhibitor.

Dolly Parton, who loved his photos of the Smoky Mountains so much she graciously wrote...

As impressive as those accomplishments are, they pale in compression to Walls core belief to connect people with the natural world in hope they fall in love with the locations and animals he photographs. He trusts that if people fall in love with nature, they will ultimately wish to help save her. That is a philosophy which is difficult to argue with after you are guided gracefully through one of his galleries in Asheville or Bristol by one of his charming art consultants.

This ideal which Walls fiercely drives at has attracted some famous eyes to his art. That list includes Country Music Legend Dolly Parton, who loved his photos of the Smoky Mountains so much she graciously wrote the foreword to his book, Beyond, which features some of his best works. Along with celebrity endorsements, Walls’ love for the natural world has led him to a seat on the Jane Goodall Institute Board where he has raised funds for the organization through charity auctions of his artwork.

But that is only part of the Benjamin Walls entrepreneurial story. After traveling to exotic locations in East Africa, Australia and New Zealand to grow his portfolio, many of his collectors started to ask if he could help them plan their trips to these destinations. As any good southern gentleman would do, Walls helped them find a way to a luxury experience in Africa giving birth to his second company WALLSabout Luxury Travel.

Some may even say, at one point in his life, that he was a bum with a pipe dream leading to nowhere...

As you can imagine, COVID-19 has put a bit of a cramp in his travel company, but Walls has found a way to keep the enterprise afloat and has plans to take his travelers on an amazing experience once a vaccine becomes available. Those would include traveling to East Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro (a climb he just made in early 2020), visiting with the gorillas in Rwanda, witnessing the famous river crossing of the great migration along with many other once in a lifetime experiences.

Before I make you believe Benjamin Walls has always been a shining example of success, he does come from very humble beginnings. Some may even say, at one point in his life, that he was a bum with a pipe dream leading to nowhere. That “pipe dream” was lit at 17-years old after he and his best friend, at the time, convinced their parents to allow them to hike from one end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the other.

During his adventure, Walls captured hundreds of images in hopes of sharing the beauty of the mountains and forests that they had discovered. Sadly, when he returned home and developed those images, he discovered they were poor representations of the beauty he and his friend had witnessed. That may have crushed a lot of young men’s dreams of following in the footsteps of world-renowned photographer Ansel Adams, but it only inspired Walls to work harder and improve his skills.

Even after focusing his photographic skill sets while attending Appalachian State University, success wasn’t pounding down his door. He did sell the occasional poster of his work from off his dorm room wall, but it took years of eating Ramen Noodles, working odd jobs and crashing on his friend’s couches before he was able to capture enough quality images to start seeing a return on his lifelong investment. After a few successes and gaining notoriety from his exhibits in international museums Walls was able to use the monies he gained to open his first gallery in his hometown of Bristol, Virginia.

However, the real magic of Benjamin Walls isn’t his photographic eye, his love of nature or his entrepreneurial spirit. It is his ability to have a dream bigger than himself while overcoming all the obstacles to achieve those goals. That is truly a trait anyone starting off as an artist or entrepreneur can admire and should try to emulate.

There is so much more to his story, but you will just have to try your luck at pinning him down at his Gallery in Asheville where you can enjoy a glass of your favorite vino from his third company WALLSwines which offers patio seating. If you can't find Benjamin I am sure you will be treated to some amazing stories and images during your visit with one of his art consultants.

Please visit Benjamin Walls and his galleries at the following locations;

Benjamin Walls Galleries



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Thank you for taking the time to read about the adventures I take, the people I meet and the places I see.  

Please get out into the natural world and enjoy all the beauty and spender that is God's artistry...

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