Another super-popular modeling location much sought after by photographers is that of the ghost town. Alas, due to the rampant sprawl of Las Vegas over the past decade, there really aren’t any ghost towns/abandoned buildings closer than a couple hours. But here’s my take on the available options:
Techatticup Mine a/k/a Nelson
This fake ghost town is SUPER popular with photographers in Vegas, because it’s only about 45 minutes from town, and is chock-a-block with rusted cars, wooden buildings and vintage bric-a-brac. They shoot a lot of commercial stuff out here, and it’s perennially crowded with wedding, graduation and family portrait photographers doing their thing — so much so that there’s usually 5 or 6 shoots going on at once! There’s a $20 fee to shoot (I think), and no nude photography is allowed — and it’s always so freaking crowded anyway, you couldn’t even really try and sneak any nudies. Very easy to access with any car. More info here.
These ghost town ruins are about 2 hours north of Vegas, just outside the Death Valley Park boundary. They are very easy to access with any car, and thus are usually super-crowded with tourists on their way to/from DV. I shot here once, but it was very difficult to get a private moment…and we had to trespass quite a bit, climbing over fences and stuff. Not recommended for nude shoots; as a historical site it’s kinda cool, though.
I hear this name bandied about sometimes, but it’s NOT a good place for photo shoots. Located in California, 3 hours south of Vegas, it’s a fully restored tourist ghost town with wagon rides and souvenir shops and that kind of shit. I never even tried to shoot here, as it’s usually pretty crowded and is too developed. Not recommended!
GREAT, super-remote ghost town ruins with many crumbling stone foundations/walls/windows still standing, and some rusted old cars/machinery as well, about 3 hours north of Vegas. 4WD is necessary to reach the site, but you can camp out for free here and no one will bother you — it’s SUPER remote! You pass through a dense Joshua tree forest on the way, and there’s a great dry lake bed nearby as well. Recommended, if you have 4WD!
My personal recommendation, if you want to shoot at a ghost town and have a decent budget, is Gold Point, about 3 hours northwest of Vegas. This town has been moderately fixed up/developed (you can stay in a cabin overnight for a fee, and there’s a donation-basis saloon onsite)…but they’re cool as hell, and for a separate fee they will let you shoot whatever you want, pretty much — nudes are fine! Tons of rusted out old cars and machinery, too. I really, really love this place! More info here. *NOTE* a photographer recently informed me that the fee to shoot photos here is very substantial…so you should definitely call ahead and try to work out a deal.
Secret mini ghost town
Secret location about one hour from Vegas
For those that hire me for a shoot, I do know of a hidden spot in the desert where there are several old stone-and-wood cabins full of interesting, rusty old junk. This location is easily accessible by any car, and is big enough for several models and photographers to use at once, and diverse enough to shoot at for at least a half day.
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