Winnemucca, Nevada: Shooting the West 2008
Winnemucca has been around a long time. Since the earlier part of the 1800s there has been a settlement in that spot and in the latter part of that century the town became “Winnemucca” and began to take shape as it stands today. It was primarily a ranching and railroad town, as most of northern Nevada was, and has become heavily involved in gold mining in recent decades.
The Basque influence in Winnemucca is enormous. If you ask anyone where you should eat while in town they’ll invariable suggest one of three places: The Winnemucca Hotel, The Martin Hotel, or Ormachea’s. All three are known for fantastic food and an atmosphere that leads to spending copious amounts of time in the bar. Due to a most unfortunate series of events, I was unable to eat in any of those restaurants. There were plans, but they fell through. I’ve been schooled in the art of Basque eating, having grown up in northeastern Nevada, and if any of those spots are like what I know, they’re sure to be the best dining experience in just about any city or town you visit.
I did hit up one of the spots I remember from my younger days: The Griddle. It’s open for breakfast and lunch and is excellent. It was within walking distance of the Winnemucca Convention Center and boasted free Wi-Fi (a recurring theme out in rural Nevada, I learned), so I had a lunch and a breakfast there. The burger was great and they cut their fries fresh. The breakfast is really what it’s known for, though, and the pancakes, eggs, and bacon I had were perfect. They even have a cool machine behind the counter that slices and squeezes the orange juice they serve. I saw about three boxes of oranges get dumped into the basket on top and watched as they were meticulously cut in half and squeezed into pitchers below. It was pretty cool.
Shooting the West was a great conference. It was my first time attending, but I knew pretty much what to expect. A few friends of mine had gone in previous years and came back with very interesting ideas and tips for creating good photos. It is basically two and a half days devoted to hearing how different photographers practice their craft in the environment that is the west. There are landscapes, scenics, wildlife, and, of course, people. Each session consisted of a photographer displaying his or her work and explaining what went into the shots and what drew them to it. From that it’s very easy to pick up a few techniques while you reflect upon your own stuff and think about how you might employ it in your work.
Many attendees come back each year. As a result, the attendees know Winnemucca well and they spend a good amount of time paying their respects to the town itself. I would even venture to say that because of the conference’s success (this was the 20th year) the town has become known as a photography and arts center of rural Nevada. It’s probably the most comprehensively photographed small town in Nevada, too.
Th trip was a huge success for me. I got a chance to tour around a very interesting and proud town. Every person I came in contact with treated me very well, from the conference-goers to the clerk at a convenience store who explained to me which cell services worked best (mine, Sprint, does not work there). I plan on making a return trip when the leaves are green so I can spend some time shooting photos around the town. I also plan on being a regular attendee to Shooting the West.
Dates for Shooting the West 2009 are March 5-8.