Every February I travel to Las Vegas for one week for an annual photography convention, this year was no different, it was held in early February and, as usual, I attended. Actually, I guess I didn’t officially attend the convention this year – I didn’t even buy a ticket! I just used it as an excuse to go and shoot sessions in my hotel room and to attend some amazing workshops.
This year, my daughter, a high school senior, happened to be turning 18 the day after my convention ended and wanted to meet me there, turn 18 in Vegas (I had to remind her she was turning 18 and not 21) and then do her senior pictures there as well. She had heard about and seen photos from some of the locations I had previously had the opportunity to shoot at in Vegas in the past and wanted her senior pictures there too. Nelson Ghost Town, The Neon Boneyard and Red Rock were some of the locations that peaked her interested. Turns out The Neon Boneyard has a lot more restrictions on photographers shooting there and proved a bit difficult with the time frame we were looking at so we crossed that one off the list. While I was at a workshop with Alexis Cuarezma for Sports Portraits, one of the other participants told me about Valley of Fire. I’d know about it but had always thought it was much further away from Vegas than it actually was so we traded Red Rock for Valley of Fire and set the shoots up.
She came out and was able to turn 18 in Las Vegas – yeah – she’s spoiled! Since I was still shooting other appointments, she got her hair done at the spa at the Bellagio (I told you she was spoiled) and we sorted through the carload of clothing she brought – tutus, puffy skirts, college choice t-shirt, jeans, tops and shoes, shoes and more shoes! I’d had the most perfect weather the first week I was there but rain loomed on the forecast once she got there. She decided the ghost town was her top priority, so we went out there the first day. It’s about 45 minutes south of Vegas and it’s key attraction is the crashed airplane out there! Spent an afternoon and several outfit changes shooting out there. The next day we headed north to Valley of Fire and fell in love with the place (in fact, I’m hoping to get back out there in the near future to shoot some fine art images)! I have been to Red Rock several time in the past, both to shoot and to tour, but Valley of Fire really puts it to shame! We dodged sprinkles and light rain throughout the afternoon. A few shots here, dash back to the car for cover and then a few more shots there. We had a great time and luckily the downpour didn’t start until we were nearly done. We got the shots and outfits that were most important to her and then drove back to Vegas in heavy rain, just in time for a delicious dinner at Zuma in the Cosmopolitan.