Nevada Magazine staff embarks on educational photography escapade.

The bacon wave at Valley of Fire State Park. A sunset at Lake Tahoe’s Bonsai rock. The International Car Forest of the Last Church in Goldfield. Iconic images are everywhere in Nevada, but capturing them in photos can be tricky. Taking a photo tour with a professional photographer can bring it all into focus. This year, we’ll highlight some of the photographers offering tours and workshops across Nevada.


I call myself a professional photographer, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in a title like that. I’ve reached a few personal milestones including having photos chosen as National Geographic’s Daily Dozen. Over the years there have been billboards, magazine and book covers, websites, family portraits, events, product photography, and studio work. The beauty about photography is, no matter how many successes I realize, I know there is always more to learn.

When Larry Burton (featured in January/February 2017) proposed taking our team on a photo tour, everyone was excited about it, though there were concerns. Am I good enough? I don’t know how to use my camera. I don’t even own a camera. Can I shoot with my cellphone?

On the following pages you’ll read our experiences about the day and see some of the photos we took. What I’m sure will become evident is that from cellphone to point-and-shoot to heavy-duty DSLR, everyone got some great photos.


Shooting with a Samsung S5

I knew everyone was going to take way better photos than me because I was just using my cellphone. Being the publisher, I know I should own a sophisticated camera—one that will keep my staff from laughing, but alas, a phone is all I have. When we got to the first location, I immediately started snapping my “camera.” When I saw the first attempts, I was really surprised at the quality of the color and clarity of the photos. Larry showed me all these settings under the camera icon, but since I’m really not a phone person, nor a camera person, I thought I better stick with what I was doing. As the day continued, I kept getting these great images—everyone said they were surprised that a cellphone could take such great photos—and I realized anyone can get out into this beautiful state and shoot images they can be proud of.



Shooting with a Nikon D5200

I’ve always loved photography, and I have always taken pictures just because they made me feel something in the moment. That said, I’m not a photographer, but I am a person who has a nice camera. I know very little about how to use it, however. I’d met Larry before we took our photo tour, and while I knew he was very nice and incredibly kind, I admit I was intimidated to let him know just how chronically lame my skills are. I should not have been worried. I told Larry how confused I get when thinking about aperture, ISO, white balance, etc. For example, I’ve screwed up so many photos trying to adjust my aperture and doing it poorly, I was pretty much resigned to the automatic setting. The smaller the aperture number, the larger the opening for light—yeah, that’s not confusing. But Larry explained how the depth of focus also changed, and by using his hands to create large and small circles, I was able to finally understand how that smaller circle allowed me to shoot far distances more clearly, and finally the larger number had context for me. I applied that quixotic knowledge to my shots, and while I probably explained it poorly, it makes sense to me.

Whenever I had a question about the shots I was taking, he’d slip in a lesson along with his feedback, and before I realized it those scary, nebulous topics became concrete information I could understand. In just a few hours, I found more ease with my camera, my knowledge, and my shots. What was even more fun—because really, learning isn’t always fun—was witnessing the same place and time through another’s eyes. From Larry to my coworkers, it was astonishing just how many different versions there were of one subject. I’ve never gone out and taken photos with other people, just to take photos. It’s an incredibly easy, informative, and wonderful experience I didn’t anticipate. I can’t wait to do it again.



Shooting with a Nikon D3200

My camera is abused. It spent the better part of 2016 prowling through ghost towns, traversing rusty nails, navigating boulders, and being held over deep mine shafts. It has survived four separate years of dust at Burning Man. It was exposed to radiation at the Nevada National Security Site. It was splashed by the spray of a jetpack in Pahrump, heavily hailed upon in Lamoille Canyon, and covered in mud at Cathedral Gorge State Park. It has survived helicopter trips and kayak ventures, and despite never having a professional cleaning, it still keeps clicking.

My camera is a necessity for my job, and is typically used to take photos that provide our readers with a visual aid to accompany a story. I rarely consider my photography artistic, because most of the time I just focus on getting the best photo to tell the story. This is why I was so thrilled to take a photo tour with Larry, because I was able to focus on a type of photography that I rarely get to shoot. I tried to take artsy photos during his tour, which introduced me to an entirely different facet of photography.

Larry told us that you don’t need an expensive camera to take great photos. That message sticks with me because it really goes against everything I have learned about photography in the past. I’m a Jeep owner, and I’ve really subscribed to the “spend as much as possible” philosophy on Jeep parts, and I believe the same holds true for many photographers and their equipment. It was great, however, to see Larry taking photos on a simple and cheap point-and-shoot that were spectacular in quality.

Because my poor, neglected DSLR takes so much abuse, I’m really looking to take Larry’s advice to heart and get a cheap point-and-shoot that can stand up to how I treat cameras. Maybe if I get a virtually indestructible one, it will last me till next year.



Shooting with an iPhone 6s

As a working parent of two active kids, I usually end up capturing our adventures on my phone simply for the convenience. When I prepped for the outing with Larry, I opted for just my mobile device. For the most part I just try to take as many shots as necessary until I get both kids looking at me or capture one with great smiles. Then I leave them on my camera until it’s too full and I have to download. Larry, though, mentioned that he downloads every day, which made total sense, as it’s his passion and his job. It made me realize, however, that I could better manage these captured moments if I do it more often. Organizing by date and location makes things much easier when trying to locate images later on, so I’ve implemented this technique already and look forward to finding photos with ease from now on.

Casual conversations with Larry throughout the day had me trying out different filters on my phone, and because we were exploring new places, it gave me a chance to slow down and see things from a different perspective. I didn’t expect to make huge strides in my photography skills on our outing, but I definitely gained a bit of knowledge by the interactions throughout the day, whether one-on-one, or as a group.

I feel so fortunate to work at the magazine with people who have become family, and that I made a new friend in Larry as well. Hearing stories of previous photo tours had us smiling as we munched on brown bag lunches, along with the many treats Larry provided. The thermoses of hot water for tea and coffee were perfect on a chilly spring outing, but the best part is that we will always have our great photos to remember the trip.



Shooting with a Nikon D5100

Destination one exceeded my hopes, destination two exceeded my dreams, and destination three iced the cake with a view high above Reno. I am no professional photographer, but I do consider myself a photo enthusiast. I seldom revisit the techniques of photography and it’s already been 10 years since I last directed photography. I was thrilled for this opportunity and with Larry’s help it didn’t take long before I got out of my shooting rut and I started viewing my focal points differently. He impressed me with his wealth of knowledge and most importantly, he made sure everyone was learning, engaged and getting the most of our trip. And kudos to our Associate Editor, Eric, for his patience and very helpful advice. My camera settings thank you.

For anyone who wants to discover the real gems of Nevada, get off the beaten track, get a little muddy, and get some great exercise in the process, hire your- self a photo tour guide today!



Shooting with a Canon 5d mkiii, DJI Mavic drone, and iPhone 6.5

As previously mentioned, I consider myself a pretty experienced photographer, but in addition to discovering three new local shooting locations, I learned so much just in observing Larry. He was approachable and helpful and absolutely made—and I do mean made—this day fun for everyone! Had we gone to these beautiful locations and taken photos on our own, an integral part of the experience would have been lost. Larry brought us together and helped us challenge ourselves and support each other’s efforts. We had a professional guide helping us discover what we were doing right and what we could do even better.

I’m writing this several days after our field trip and staff members are still talking about the experience. They continue to share their images with each other and are excited to explain the ways in which they are applying what they learned, whether for family snapshots or more professional shoots for the magazine.

You may hear photographers say that they are making photographs, rather than taking them, but not me. With my own work, I believe that I “take” something with me when I’m photographing—whether it’s a person, a landscape, or even an animal. I extract and greedily retain a secret moment, emotion, or experience. When I take a photograph, my life has been changed in some way. For me, this is what Larry provided—a series of special moments and emotions for each of us to take and hold close. What a priceless gift.

Burk Uzzle, the youngest photographer ever hired by Life magazine, said “Photography is a love affair with life.” If you are looking for something special to do for a photographer you know (even if it’s yourself ), consider hiring a photo tour guide. Life is out there, awaiting its latest love affair.



To contact Larry for a tour: 775-389-9573
Cost: $200 per day, includes lunch and transportation within one day’s travel



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