John provided a good description of hiking the AT. There are some great views, but there are also plenty of other things to photograph.
My brother hiked the trail end to end starting in Georgia and ending in Maine five months later. The Georgia end is particularly difficult due to elevation changes and your lack of real conditioning at that stage. Weather is unpredictable - during the first month he got a week of rain followed by being snowed in for two weeks.
Weight is everything for that much hiking. My brother would mail ahead sections of paperback books to save weight.
Black bears are not a problem as long as you take care with food. They are certainly not aggressive. I've never seen a rattlesnake on the trail - you need to watch your step in some places but they are truly uncommon and reclusive.
Safety is not really an issue and you certainly would not want to carry a gun. It's too heavy to add the weight. And guns are illegal in some places on the trail like the Smokies.
Hikers end up meeting others on the trail and developing friendships. It's a great experience to even hike sections of the trail.