- Instagram: @dereklasvegas
When it comes to marketing anything in Las Vegas, the strip, parties, sex and excessive gambling initially come to mind. And, oh yeah, it’s also in the middle of the desert. Most believe the desert is a sandy wasteland where nothing grows but boredom, and while this may be the case in some places, it’s certainly not the case in Las Vegas and its surrounding areas, which contain some of the most magnificent, timeless landscapes on earth—and some of the dankest cannabis in the world.
When I started shooting photography many years ago, it was a passion that stemmed from my love for the planet, fueling me to continue to shoot wherever I traveled. When I found myself in Las Vegas four years ago, I was immediately re-energized by its rugged, pristine landscape; it was greener than I had anticipated, as well. Mountains lie just outside the city, banded with vibrant oranges, pinks and reds formed from ancient shallow seas that gave way to the wild rock formations thousands of tourists come to visit each year at Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire.
There’s something about taking a photo of a hearty green bud upon a red sandstone canvas on a clear blue day; it’s cannabis’ primal connection to the earth which brings out our outdoorsy side and makes us want to hike, run and stay active. When I think about cannabis, I think adventure, exploration and the great outdoors. I mean, how many times have you been on a trailhead and smelled some Skunk, or at a campground where you’ve burned with total strangers? Outdoor locations enhance any kind of photoshoot, but particularly ones centered around cannabis; the two go hand in hand.
Just 40 minutes off the strip, you can see one of humanity’s greatest achievements, the manmade Lake Mead. Or check out one of Nevada’s many abandoned mining towns, like Nelson, one of the most unique, nostalgic, off-the-grid places you’ll ever visit. And yes, it’s totally worth the extra miles of highway you need to travel to get there—it’s alwaysworth it to get the shot.
A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words
If you need a striking background for a photoshoot, look no further than Nevada’s versatile terrain. We’ve picked our favorite shooting spots, categorized by the mood you seek to capture.
✅ Rugged: Sheep Mountain, Pyramid Lake, Humboldt National Forest, Cathedral Gorge
✅ Antiquated, haunting: Nelson, St. Thomas, Unionville, Belmont, Gold Point
✅ Breathtaking: Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Kershaw-Ryan