Cottonwood Guest Ranch August 2024

Join the Cowgirls with Cameras on a Photography Learning Immersion Experience

5 Days, 5 Nights | August 22-27, 2024
Wells, Nevada

FULL for 2024 — Email to be added to the waitlist.

 We were the first photography group to have the opportunity to shoot at the Cottonwood Guest Ranch in 2022. This is incredibly exciting and we are thrilled to bring this new location with fresh models, scenery, and set-ups!

Cottonwood Guest Ranch in Wells, Nevada. Cottonwood is a working horse and cattle ranch located in the remote northeastern corner of Nevada. Six generations of the Smith family have owned & operated the Ranch. For over 60 years, Cottonwood Ranch has offered a warm, western welcome to the many guests who have shared this beautiful place that the Smiths call home.

This is a Cowgirls with Cameras Photography Learning Immersion Experience. Photographers of all levels are welcome.

Our mission at Cowgirls with Cameras is to facilitate your creative expression of the western lifestyle through photography. Our live and virtual experiences are designed to actively expand your knowledge and creativity by building your technical, artistic, and business skills within a supportive community of like-minded people who are passionate about photography.

Our Learning Immersion workshops offer beginner, intermediate and advanced photographers a chance to grow their skills in a safe and supportive environment. Learning photography can also be a lonely experience and workshops can be intimidating and scary. Learning photography in a workshop setting can be harsh, feel competitive, or stifling, and we don’t want that to be the experience for our students. We want this experience to allow you room to establish a solid foundation and/or expand your skills while having fun and getting the knowledge you’ve been craving.

I’ve been a rancher all my life and wanted to be able to share beautiful western scenes with others. Working with Cowgirls With Cameras at the Cottonwood Ranch exceeded my wildest expectations. I learned so much about all the special things to make western photography even more beautiful. We had sessions with splashing water and reflections. We did silhouettes and dust scenes with the cavvy and cowboys. We learned about portraits with and without horses, various editing techniques and marketing methods. I came away from this experience with thousands of images, many new friends, happy memories and a new love for photography. It was an experience that changed my life.

Keri Pommerening

Your Leaders: Cara, Kim and Phyllis!

Cara Taylor Swift

Cara Taylor Swift

Fast Horse Photography, Equine Portrait Specialist

Super Powers:

Eliciting Horse Human Connection
Posing People with Horses
Seeing the extraordinary
in the ordinary.

Lightroom Classic

Kim Beer

Kim Beer

Kim Beer Photography & Be More Business, Gestaltist

Super Powers:

Helping you connect with and love your Muse.
Innovative Business Building
Creative & Fast Workflows

Lightroom CC & Classic
Mac and iPad Pro

Phyllis burchett

Phyllis burchett

Phyllis Burchett Photography, Photographic Artist

Super Powers:

Artistic Expression in Photography
Seeing the Details
Passive Income


The magic of a Cowgirls with Cameras Experience is in our Leaders!

We are three very different photographers and all successful in our own craft using different approaches and techniques. We have been in your shoes — the novice photographer yearning to learn more; the intermediate photographer seeking to become better at your craft; and the experienced photographer looking to expand your horizons and fully tap into your creativity. We each offer our unique super powers, methods, and view points for you to consider. We believe this offers our students the opportunity to truly choose what works best for them. Our instruction style is open, engaging, non-judgmental, and friendly. We are passionate about photography, artistic expression, business, and having fun — we want to inspire you and help you take your photography to the next level.

About the Cowgirls with Cameras Photography Learning Immersion Experience at Cottonwood Ranch

This experience will be learning intensive with a focus on classroom learning and shooting. Mentoring, relaxation (ie fun!), and community building will also be part of the event.

Scheduled shoots are all western equine themed and include a wide range of setups including portrait, lifestyle, action, and creative opportunities. Instructors will be available during the shoots to direct models and help participants with capturing the images they envision.

Classroom time is scheduled between shoots. Our classroom time will be divided between lecture and hands-on learning. Topics covered will include editing, creativity, camera knowledge, composition, business, mindset and more. The classroom time at our workshops is designed to give you the skills you need to get the most out of the scheduled shoots.

Mentoring from one or all of the instructors is available and encouraged during the event. Also included in your experience are 3 sessions of up to 45 minutes of mentoring before or after the event itself. This is a $600 value if purchased separately PLUS you have full mentoring access to all three instructors at the event itself.

Community is a key aspect of our Immersion Photography experiences. We encourage sharing and friendship both during and after the event. Some of our most memorable moments and best friendships have come from the workshops we have attended, and we want you to have that same opportunity at every Cowgirls with Cameras event. Built into the schedule is time to get to know each other and foster support for each other both in our lives and art.

Relaxation time is important to the creative process. Although this event is intensely focused on learning, we will have built in down time for relaxation and just hanging out with each other, the animals, and nature.

We hand pick our locations to offer

• beautiful scenery

• real ranch lifestyle

• horses

• a variety of settings

• comfortable lodging

Experience and Equipment Recommendations

Experience: Our learning experiences are designed to work for photographers of all levels. Depending on your level pre-event, you can expect work toward understanding, expanding, and mastering your photography skills.

In addition to these topics, all of our Photography Learning Immersions cover:

Working with Models
Lighting Techniques and Strategies
Photography Business Skills

Camera Equipment: In order to get the most out of this experience, we recommend you have a DSLR or Mirrorless removable lens camera system. If you don’t own one of these camera systems, we can help you choose what to rent so you maximize your experience and can test out equipment before you commit!

Editing Equipment: A laptop and/or iPad is required to take advantage of the classroom time focused on editing and workflow. Instruction will take place in industry standard Adobe software. For laptop users, we will work in Photoshop, Bridge, and Lightroom Classic or Lightroom CC. For iPad users, we will work in Lightroom CC and Photoshop Mobile. If you edit in Photoshop Elements, you can still benefit from the classroom instruction, but you may not have access to all the tools for some techniques. If you edit with Affinity, you will need to alter some steps of the Photoshop instruction to the specifics of your software.

Lighting Equipment and Accessories: Almost all our instructional and setup shooting will be done with available light. There are, however, occasions and locations where off camera lighting techniques will be covered. In these cases, we will have lighting setups provided for Canon and Nikon users. If you use another brand of camera equipment, we will provide you with the requirements for your camera setup prior to the event or you can observe the techniques and apply them at home when you have the required equipment. An accessory list for each location will be provided at the time of registration.

The Important Details

The investment for this event is $3950. 

Classroom Instruction
In Field Instruction
10 Photography Setups 
Photography Basics Course Online
Mentoring (before, during, and after the event)
Portfolio Review (optional)
Model Releases

Travel to and from the location is not included.

We recommend you fly into Salt Lake City airport which is 4 ½ hours from the ranch. The ranch is located near Wells, Nevada. You should plan to arrive on location by 3 pm on August 22 and plan to depart the ranch by 11 am on August 27 unless other arrangements are made in advance. There will not be a need to leave the location during the event, so sharing a rental car is advised to cut down on expenses. We will connect attendees through social media and email prior to the event so you can make arrangements.

Lodging is provided by the ranch and included. You can expect to share a room and bathroom unless you arrange otherwise in advance. Rooms are comfortable and fully outfitted. 

Meals are provided by the ranch and included. The ranch is happy to accommodate a range of dietary needs if they know in advance. Please notify us if you need vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, sugar-free, or other dietary options for your meals. Also let us know in advance if you have any food allergies.

We do everything we can within reason to make you comfortable during the event. If you have any special needs, please notify us in advance so we can arrange to meet them or set expectations accordingly.

Activity Level, Personal Gear, and Weather Considerations

Participants in this experience should be in good health and feel comfortable walking over uneven terrain and standing for extended periods of time. We may have to hike a short distance to shoot locations so please be prepared by bringing hiking or western type boots/shoes with closed toes. Weather in the west can be unpredictable, so pack layers to accommodate your comfort in both warm and cold temperatures. We often find morning to start off chilly and quickly rise in temperature and layering allows you to adjust your comfort level easily.

Horse experience is NOT necessary to participate in this experience.

Last year I attended the Cowgirls with Cameras event at the Cottonwood Ranch and it was the farthest I have ever traveled to attend a workshop, let me just say I don’t regret it one bit!! Lodge is gorgeous, feels like home with wonderful food, fellowship and endless learning! Cara, Kim & Phyllis are all wonderful, they had numerous photo locations and models picked out, they fielded oodles of questions, and never once did I feel out of place or over my head! It was a relaxed feeling, where there are no “dumb” questions, all you had to do was ask it. We all made new friends, found old ones and learned lots of new photography tips and tricks whether in the field or behind our computers, or about business in general!! I would recommend to anyone interested in a great adventure coupled with a phenomenal learning experience to attend this workshop. It is a jam packed week! There is nothing else like it!!

Becky Finney