Merriam-Webster defines photography as “The art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (such as film or an optical sensor).” While this definition certainly describes the act of creating an image, it leaves out the most important factor in the whole equation: the photographer.

The images you are about to experience didn’t simply come from a camera arbitrarily aimed at a particular subject, rather they were created through the passion and artistic perspective of the person behind the lens. We all know Nevada is beautiful, but it’s the photographers’ ability to capture this beauty using infinite perspectives that really makes the state shine.

We offer a sincere thank you to all of the photographers that submitted images for consideration in our annual photo hunt. It’s a daunting and challenging task selecting our favorites each year, though it’s always a pleasure viewing each and every entry.

This year we had three grand prize winners, plus a winner and runner-up each for eight separate categories.

© Lee Molof, winner of a Shooting The West Symposium package. This annual event in Winnemucca brings together legendary photography instructors and eager participants for a week of classes and outings. It truly is the “Nevada Photography Experience.” Lee receives entry to the symposium—a $145 value—plus a $200 credit to attend workshops.

Lee Molof, 1st Place

As this year’s first-place winner of the Great Nevada Picture Hunt, Lee Molof reminds us that sometimes some of the most beautiful things in life must come to an end, though through photography, can become immortalized. “The Historic Twaddle-Pedroli Ranch in Washoe Valley dates back to the 1800s. It was a popular photographic subject for locals until the tragic Little Valley Fire destroyed the wood buildings in October 2016. Fortunately, the stone buildings survived. I was fortunate enough to capture this shot before the fire. I spent many a shoot there from 2014-2016, and really miss the historic wooden buildings.”

© Jackie Gorton, winner of an Ely photographer package at Nevada Northern Railway National Historic Landmark. Another annual event, the Nevada Northern Railway Winter Steam Photo Shoot Spectacular gives photographers the chance to photograph historic railroad steam engines against the snowy backdrop of Ely. Jackie receives entry to the photoshoot, plus complimentary lodging for three nights at the Ramada Copper Queen in Ely.

Jackie Gorton, 2nd Place:

“Walker Lake is a desert gem, and there is an abundance of desert bighorn sheep that call nearby Mt. Grant home. This particular photo was taken just off the road. Getting the shot involved a short climb to gain a little more elevation, but the view is always an amazing reward even if the sheep don’t stick around for a photo. Blessed to live in Nevada.”

© Anthony Montoya, winner of a Carson Valley Eagles & Agriculture package. A uniquely Nevada event, Eagles & Agriculture is set in the Carson Valley amid nature’s dance that brings predator birds to the area as calving season begins. The photo opportunities are endless. Anthony receives entry to the event, which includes tours, a Falconer’s Dinner, and photography workshop, plus a two-night stay at the Carson Valley Inn.

Anthony Montoya, 3rd Place:

“Fishing just below the Wild Horse Reservoir Dam made me realize just how massive the structure is. Having my DJI Mavic Pro drone handy, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to capture both sides of the structure, including the curvature and flow of both the road, reservoir, and Owyhee river below. The end result is one of my favorite shots of one of Nevada’s hidden beauties with a different perspective.”

Remaining category winners receive gift certificates from Action Camera and Home Means Nevada, both located in Reno.

Operating in Roseville for 34 years, Action Camera brings more than just a retail camera store to Reno as they also provide classes, workshops and other services. Whether you’re a pro, hobbyist, or complete beginner they are interested in helping you get the most out of your gear.

The quintessential Nevada brand, Home Means Nevada apparel is a must for anyone who truly knows what that means.

Runners-up receive a 1-year subscription to Nevada Magazine and a 2020 Nevada Historical Calendar (shipping November 19).


© Abe Blair

Abe Blair, 1st place: “Garrett Yrigoyen (from the “Bachelorette”) out for a cruise with friend Mandii Marie in the Sparks Marina on the SUP boards. We spent a few days photographing all around the Reno area showcasing all of the amazing outdoor activities that can be done within the city. On this morning, these two paddled around the marina and enjoyed the fun and unique neighborhood that reminds you of Venice, Italy.”

© Paige Shaw

Paige Shaw, runner-up:
“It’s a tradition—and one might say a rite of passage—to line up at the Main Street Barber Shop in Gardnerville for a haircut. For years Barber Dan has groomed young and old alike. Five-year-old Blake had been patiently waiting for his turn when he was told to hop up on the booster. Grinning from ear to ear, sitting tall like the men before him, Blake got his ears lowered and enjoyed every moment.”


© Janis Knight

Janis Knight, 1st place: “A friend was visiting and she wanted to take a drive and see some Nevada scenery on a fall afternoon. She’d never been to Pyramid Lake, so I got a permit and we drove out there. Pyramid Lake looks a little different every time you see it. The sky suddenly darkened to the south and some amazing thunderheads started to roll in. I managed to get one shot that actually had lightning in it before it started to rain.”

© Tom Jones, IV

Tom Jones, IV, runner-up: “Feb. 21 dawned with the Las Vegas valley wrapped in snow and more falling. I took a drive to Red Rock Canyon to witness this rare occasion and to grab some photographic remembrances. Around 11 a.m., the storm broke, showing some mountains and a bit of blue sky. I was struck during my editing session with the simplicity of the composition and the fortunate timing.”


© Robert Rollins

Robert Rollins, 1st place: “The fireworks show in Virginia City had many viewers, one of which happened to be a rattlesnake that watched the show from the cemetery, unknown to me from underneath the tripod legs of the camera. He was very kind, however, in not biting me and I finally noticed him as he was crawling away into a nearby sage bush.”

© Lee Molof

Lee Molof, runner-up: “The Micca Saloon in historic Paradise Valley is quite a building with many great stories to tell, if it could only speak. It is quite photogenic, and this side view of the place caught my eye on a visit there in 2017 while attending the Shooting the West symposium in nearby Winnemucca.”


© Vivian Powers

Vivian Powers, 1st place: “These black-eyed Susans stood out while the sun was going down one night; they were so vibrant they almost glowed. I didn’t have my Nikon with me and knew I had to grab my phone and take the shot. It took a few tries, but I finally got what I was visualizing.”

© Gretchen Baker

Gretchen Baker, runner-up: “This huge cave entrance looks out toward old Lake Bonneville, which like ancient Lake Lahontan, was one of the giant lakes in the Great Basin during the last Ice Age. Paleontologists have found bones of animals that used to live here, including the teratorn—a giant bird with a wingspan of 16-18 feet. I love to come up here and think about how different the plants, animals, and climate were only 10,000 years ago. And I imagine the teratorn taking off toward
the lake to go find her dinner.”


© Dave Harrison

Dave Harrison, 1st place: “The Nevada Day Parade is always so much fun. The pageantry and diversity are a photographer’s dream. I chose a vantage point where I could minimize the distractions in the background, when the troupe of colorful dancers came by. The grace and fluid motion of the woman in white was so beautiful!”

© Laura DeSimone

Laura DeSimone, runner-up: “Nick Troutman, a former world freestyle champion, competed in the men’s freestyle finals of the Reno River Festival in 2019. The Reno River Festival takes place Mother’s Day weekend as kayakers and paddlers of all types inundate the Truckee River Water park in downtown Reno.”


© Kelley Piccinini

Kelley Piccinini, 1st place: “I went to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge early in the morning in search of migrating birds. I was standing by a tree stump waiting for hummingbirds, when I heard a rusting in the leaves. This beautiful guy scampered to the top of the log to survey his territory. He was so beautiful and majestic looking. He stayed for several minutes and seemed to pose for me.”

© Larry Neel

Larry Neel, runner-up: “I saw two adult kit foxes north of Eastgate Station in the brush on the north side of the highway. During that time the kits appeared—as many as five—and the one in this photo was a runt just half the size of its siblings, but it was quickly evident that the runt was Mom’s favorite.”


© Steve Lee Hamel

Steve Lee Hamel, 1st place: “Modern technology has made it possible to easily track the moon and Milky Way on our smartphones. This has allowed for dreaming photographer’s like myself to envision, plan, and—weather permitting—arrive at the perfect time to capture the photo we have imagined. It is in moments like these when all the elements come together harmoniously that almost feel like magic.”

© Steve Lee Hamel

Steve Lee Hamel, runner-up: “I’ve had my eye on this bridge since before it was finished. I have driven over it many times and contemplated the best way to photograph it.”


© Jenna Garrison

Jenna Garrison (age 15), 1st place: “Dyer has a sense of natural and untouched beauty. The crisp air makes for great views of the desert landscape. All of the bright orange and yellow flowers among the sagebrush add a pop of color to the otherwise arid desert. Also, the expansive clear blue skies are truly one of the most beautiful sights.”

Art Director’s Note: Our judges were so impressed by the quality of photography from our younger submitters, they simply couldn’t decide between these two runners-up.

© Camden Jackson

Camden Jackson (age 10), runner-up: “I had seen the adult owls on a previous ride and decided to take Camden out to see if we could find them. We found their burrow and were watching, when this little baby came out. Camden has become quite the photographer and loves taking pictures and captured this photo. He also has an incredible eye for being able to spot wildlife.” —Camden’s grandmother, Carol Jackson

© Kaleigh Taylor

Kaleigh Taylor (age 8), runner-up: “I was camping with my family and we took our two side-by-sides out for the day. We zoomed over to Belmont where I got a great picture of the Highbridge Mill. It was cool. I got to explore the inside of the building. It has been there a really long time.”

We want to once again thank our generous sponsors, who each year make it possible for us to share wonderful experiences and prizes. 

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