Photo by Dana Lee Fruend | Courtesy LCAT
Karen Asplindh, of Las Vegas, takes sunset photos at Miller Point in Cathedral Gorge State Park during the inaugural Lincoln County Photo Festival.

A group of photographers recently assembled for the inaugural Lincoln County Photo Festival to learn from professionals and take photos throughout the northern part of the county.

“It is a seriously photogenic place,” said participant Nicole Fernley, who made the trip to the event from Salt Lake City. “There is something of interest everywhere you go.”

The Photo Festival is a new event created by the Lincoln County Authority of Tourism (LCAT) and is part of an ongoing effort to grow visitation to the county. Photography enthusiasts were invited to participate in workshops as well as explore various photo destinations in the area. A provided booklet included the five state parks in the county and places around the city of Caliente and the towns of Pioche and Panaca. Around 40 people participated.

“It was fun to welcome photographers to Lincoln County and invite them to capture the beauty that surrounds us here,” said LCAT president Marcia Hurd. “We had an excellent group of instructors, and participants took some amazing photos.”

National Geographic award-winning photographer David Swindler and a few of his colleagues, from Kanab, Utah, put on a night-sky photography workshop. University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) instructors Shawn and Corinne Severn taught photography basics and landscape photography. And business owner Michael Okimoto of Reno put on an environmental portraiture course.

Friday began with a catered breakfast and orientation at the historic train Depot in Caliente. Some then stayed in the building for the Severns’ workshops while others ventured out for photo shoots. That evening, the Severns convened with a group at Miller Point in Cathedral Gorge State Park for a sunset shoot.

Okimoto and Swindler’s workshops occurred on Saturday at the Pioche Town Hall, and both included hands-on experience later in the day. The environmental portraiture group spent time at Ghost Town Art and Coffee and photographed owner Kelly Garni, a former rock star whose business is housed in a 150-year-old workshop. The character of the person and the coffee shop made for an enjoyable photo shoot.

“It was hands-down one of the best photography classes or workshops I’ve ever been to,” Fernley said. “[Okimoto] was a great teacher, but the hands-on portion was fantastic.”

She added, “Kelly was so gracious and so kind. He basically let us take over his café.”

All participants reconvened Saturday evening at the historic Thompson’s Opera House in Pioche for dinner and a slideshow of favorite photos. The night sky participants then hustled to Cathedral Gorge for hands-on work with Swindler, who is renown for his outdoor photography as well as his workshops and photo tours.

“There was really quality instruction going on,” Fernley said.

The intent is to make the Photo Festival a yearly occasion through partnerships with photography clubs in the southwest region.

“We look forward to this event growing into something photographers can look forward to each year,” Hurd said. “We encourage others to create new events that will draw visitors to the county.”

Those interested in tourism in Lincoln County are invited to email to learn more and get involved.