Shot in the Dark Cave Photography is the name (my wife's brilliant suggestion) of the business I operate as a cave photography specialist. I have been a caver since 1968
and picked up my first camera to photograph in a cave in 1969. Since that time, I've shot thousands and thousands of photos of the caves I love the most: Those in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. Although 95% of those photos were shot in undeveloped caves under the most difficult of conditions, I've taken that experience and applied it to my photography in commercial caves. Even though the circumstances are very different in a cave with paved walkways and electric lights, the challenge of taking great photographs is no less daunting.


I take great pride in my cave photography and bring that desire to take the best photographs possible to each and every job I do. I photograph even the most barren and worn out caves in such a way as to enhance their beauty and sense of mystery.

If you are interested in having your own cave photographed, please review the following terms on how I work for you. Of course any questions you have are best answered by calling me or e-mailing me at I am at your service as a professional cave photography specialist.

Commercial Cave Clients:

Meramec Caverns, Missouri
Forbidden Caverns, Tennessee
Marengo Cave, Indiana
Diamond Caverns, Kentucky
Seneca Caverns, Ohio
Howe Caverns, New York
Dixie Caverns, Virginia
Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

I have been specializing in cave photography since I bought my first real camera in 1969. As a caver, I was enthralled by the beauty of the underground world and wanted a way in which to bring that beauty back to the surface for the rest of the world to see. Cave photography seemed to be the best way in which to do that. Since those modest beginnings, I've made a second career out of my passion for photographing caves.

The photography I've been doing for the past 30 plus years has been in the toughest of conditions in wild caves. There have been no paved walkways or electric lights to work with. In these conditions, I've learned how to best compose and light the caves to enhance their natural beauty. This gives me a unique perspective that regular commercial photographers don't have when photographing in caves. As such, my images will show your cave in a perspective that is new, unique and exciting.

In recent years, I've photographed for National Geographic Television, The Learning Channel, the Anyplace Wild public television series and coordinated a cave filming project for NOVA, the public television program. My work has been displayed at the Department of Interior Museum in Washington, DC, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and The American Cave Museum. I have photographed in numerous commercial caves around the country as well. One of my photographs now hangs in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.

To me, cave photography is not merely "another job" in a series of photo shoots. It is my true passion in life and I bring this passion with me to any of the commercial cave photo shoots that I do. You can be assured of photos of the highest quality with a new and different perspective for your cave.

Peter Jones


When we come to an agreement about my photographing your cave for you, we make arrangements for the best time for me to come do the shoot at your convenience. Depending on your needs and the time of year, I can shoot during the day when your cave is open or in the evening after your customers have left. As models are an integral part of many cave photographs, I may ask you to make arrangements to provide them. I will also need at least one helper for carrying equipment and setting up photographs. You can provide this or I will make arrangements for one myself.

I usually begin the shoot by taking a walk through of the entire cave to get an overall feel for what is there. If you have specific areas or scenes you would like photographed, that would be the best time to bring those needs to my attention. After that first walk through, I sometimes do a second trip through to spend a bit more time thinking about individual photo scenes.

Before the shoot begins, I make plans on which areas to shoot in and in what order. If children are to be used as models in the photos, I try to plan those photos for early in the session. This prevents boredom and running late into the night when children become tired and cranky. Also when possible, I try to shoot all scenes with models in grouped time frame. Scenes in which models are not needed are reserved for later in the session, thus making the best use of models' time. Models should come dressed in brightly colored clothes, the warmer colors of red, yellow and the like are preferable. They should avoid dark colors such as brown or black. Models should be attractive and neatly dressed and groomed.

A good cave photograph takes a minimum of half an hour to set up and shoot, but it frequently takes longer. The scene must be composed, lights set up and models put in place. I then shoot a digital image of the scene to determine if the shot will work. Lighting and model placement adjustments are made if necessary and a second digital image is shot to make sure the scene is right. Once final adjustments are made, I take multiple shots at different exposure settings using my digital camera to make sure that the scene is right. This takes some extra time, but the results are clearly worth the time spent.

A cave shoot usually takes 1 - 3 days to complete depending on the size and complexity of the cave. I usually average about 10 - 12 different scenes shot per day. On the whole, it is better for me to determine and work on those shots which I deem to be best and concentrate on doing them right. Better to have ten really great shots than 15 or more mediocre ones at the end of the day.

At the end of the shoot, I begin the digital editing of the images I've taken. Being able to digitally manipulate the images allows me to make improvements where needed. ALL digital images require a certain amount of processing to make them usable. It frequently requires as much time to process them as it does to take the images. Once processed, I send you a CD of all the finished images. The images will be saved in different file sizes: TIFF images are the largest files and are suitable for making prints up to about 11" x 17" or smaller for your brochures. You will also receive JPEG versions of the same images that are good for posting on websites. You may then review the images to determine which images you want.

I take great pride in my photography and want to be sure that you are completely satisfied with the work I do for you. If you decide that you do not like any of the slides or digitals I have taken, there is no cost to you. You are not required to buy any images if you do not like them.

If you do like the photography I've done for you, here is how I charge for my work: Each image you buy (one image is defined as all the exposures of a single photo scene) is $200.You may use it in any and all ways you desire for as long as you want: postcards, brochures, posters, websites, as reproduced slide sets, etc. The only rights I retain as author of the image is for my own portfolio use, for entry in the NSS Photo Salon, slide presentations and other uses for which I would get permission from you.

Should you decide to buy out the entire catalog of images, I charge $500 per day for the shoot time. If the entire shoot lasts two days, maximum cost is $1,000 for the whole catalog. If only one day, the catalog would be $500. There is no charge for transportation, food, or lodging expenses. There is no charge for the processing time either. The per day shoot fee is inclusive of all expenses.

Should you be interested in my services, please contact me and we can discuss your needs. Thank you!