Nevada Photo Tour Guides
Learn to shoot the Silver State through the eyes of professional photographers.


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. If you take a tour or workshop, let them know you read about them in Nevada Magazine, and get ready to take some amazing photos of your own.

Mark Vollmer, in his own words


Mark demonstrates composition techniques for 6th grade students at the Great Basin Outdoor School, Camp Galilee, Lake Tahoe.

I teach one- to two-day outdoor photography workshops through Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) in Reno. The classes include a slideshow portion in the classroom, followed by a field shoot and tour at one or more local areas. I also do private tutoring. I’ve been conducting tours since 1996 when I led photo hikes for Washoe County Parks & Open Space and Tahoe Rim Trail Association. I started the TMCC workshops in 2006. My TMCC workshops mainly cover the Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe area, but private classes explore Washoe, Storey, Douglas, Lyon, and Churchill counties.

The TMCC classes/tours focus on seasonal photography themes: winter’s quiet and dynamic beauty, springtime in the desert, summer mountain landscapes, and autumn splendor. The other workshops cover garden photography, shooting the Great Reno Balloon Race, photographing historic sites, and expressive outdoor natural light. In all my classes, it’s about the light and how its angles reveal the character of the subject in different ways. Developing the creative eye and learning to see surroundings with all the senses is my primary focus.

The variety of desert and mountain beauty beneath awesome skies, mixed with intriguing remnants of our human history, makes Nevada a wonderful place to explore with budding photographers. I like participants to be relatively familiar with their cameras, but I’ve taught the whole spectrum. Although my workshops are geared toward the beginner, all skill levels are invited. I do get into the very basics of apertures and shutter speeds, but it helps if the participants have practiced with their camera beforehand. Also, the physical difficulty of my tours fluctuates depending on the physical abilities of the participants. I want my workshops to be open to everyone—including those with disabilities—so we have the option to go to locales easily accessible by passenger car with minimal-to-moderate walking on gentle terrain.

For my TMCC workshops, I teach a lot as the tours are preceded by an in-class session illustrating the processes of composition. The field shoot gives everyone an opportunity to practice what was learned in the classroom. My private tutoring, on the other hand, is totally flexible whether you want complete immersion into all aspects of photographing outdoors, or if you just want experience shoot- ing in new locales.

I’ve been photo- graphing for fun since the 1970s, and profes- sionally for the last 20 years or so. I’ve written illustrated articles for Nevada Magazine; have been author and co-photographer for a best-selling coffee table book, “Tahoe Rim Trail, Exploring the Jewel;” hung my photography in Reno, South Lake Tahoe, and Sacramento galleries since 2004; created and presented multi-media slide shows for schools and community venues since 1985, and partnered on the visual music DVD, “StorySongs: From the Soul of the American West.”

My photos have been published in regional calendars and brochures, and on the covers of hiking guidebooks. My images have won numerous awards since 1991, including competitions in Nevada Magazine, Shooting the West Symposium in Winnemucca, and the People’s Choice awards at Bartley Ranch Park. I’ve judged several competitions for the Reno Photo Club.

My favorite photography tip has to be take the time to engage all of your senses. The sense of sight alone isn’t enough to create compelling images. Touch the smooth texture of sagebrush leaves or the roughness of a granite boulder. Get down on your belly and smell the flowers you want to photograph. Hear the wind rustling the trees. All of these senses combine for a true visionary experience. Focus your senses before focusing the camera.

One of my favorite tour stories happened on a desert spring photo shoot north of Spanish Springs Valley. My students and I went to a friend’s ridgetop house that had wonderful views and colorful slopes of blooming flowers following a heavy winter. After exploring and photographing the hillsides below her house, my friend surprised us by cooking dinner for everyone. “Anyone who takes the time to drive way out here deserves to be fed!” she said.

Sadly, a field shoot at the historic Twaddle Pedroli Ranch turned out to be historic in ways I couldn’t have imagined. The original location for my class turned out to be unavailable, so I told the students I knew another place. The students—none of whom had visited the Twaddle Pedroli Ranch—found unlimited opportunities to practice composition techniques that I present- ed in the classroom as the afternoon sun waned and shadows lengthened. Two weeks later, the tragic Little Valley Fire in Oc- tober 2016 destroyed all the wooden structures on the property, including the majestic 110-year-old barn that was the favorite of the class. I notified my students that they froze history in time with their photographs.

Mark Vollmer 775-829-9010

[email protected] or 775-223-6438 for private tutoring Cost: TMCC workshops are $89,

and private tutoring is $30 per hour



James Marvin Phelps, in his own words 

I have been conducting photography tours since 2012, mostly in Valley of Fire State Park, but can do other areas in the state upon request. On my tours I focus primarily on landscape, but I always let my guests know there may be wildlife (desert bighorn sheep, roadrunners, desert tortoise, etc.) and to bring a longer lens if they have one.

The Valley of Fire photography tour is a wonderful experience; you never know what you’ll see: beautiful sunrise and sunsets, water reflections after a summer rain, rainbows, and wildlife. Each trip brings something new to see and marvel, and of course photograph! Because we do a lot of sunrise and sunset shots on the tour, I always tell my guests to “look behind you.” Don’t be focused on what’s right in front you. There are opportunities all around us when we shoot.

Driving down the road in Valley of Fire one morning, my guest and I heard a loud “crack.” My guest thought it was thunder, but there was no weather in the area. I knew what it was. Two male bighorn sheep were butting heads. I pulled over and parked safely and we got some wonderful images. It was a very special moment. In terms of physical difficulty my tours are moderate. There is some walking over rocks and desert terrain but I take the guests’ physical ability into consideration and can modify the tour to fit their needs. As far as their cameras are concerned, the more familiar the better, but I get all levels of photographers.

For that reason I do teach on my tours if needed. Some are very new and need help with composition, depth of field, ISO, and other basics. I also take out some very talented photographers who just want me to get them to the different locations for the best lighting opportunities. We chase the light all day long!

I’ve been shooting all my life, but got very serious in 2003 with my first digital camera, a Canon 10D. I’ve had two magazine covers to date (Lake Erie Living December 2009; Nevada Magazine March/April 2010); two images place in Nevada Magazine’s 2016 Great Nevada Picture Hunt; my photos have been published in two books, and the Red Rock Canyon visitors’ guide.

From mountains and snow, beautiful red rock and the waters of Lake Mead, desert vegetation, and wildlife, the photo opportunities in Nevada are endless. We have wild horses, bighorn sheep, fox, coyotes, and birds all very close and easy to access. Plus, we have some of the world’s best sunrises and sunsets anywhere.


JMP Photography LLC

Cost: Valley Of Fire tours available on most Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays

Full day tour: $295
Half-day sunrise or sunset tour: $185
Tour size is limited to 1-4 people



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