This Oklahoma photographer went to Quartz Mountain more than 20 years ago, and like everyone else who goes there, it changed his life.

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QUARTZ MT. STATE PARK, OKLAHOMA -- Capturing something special about one moment in time can be tricky.

How can you tell a story with no words?

That's what professional photographer Paul Taggart is trying to teach this group of talented high school age students, and the very same thing another teacher here tried to show him when he attended the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute more than 20 years ago.

"Quartz Mountain is a very intense learning atmosphere," he says. "It was 20 years ago but it feels like it was only a couple of summers ago."

Taggart used what he learned those two summers and took off to take pictures on every continent, in war zones, and Oklahoma too.

His pictures graced the pages of Newsweek and Time, and the New York Times.

So after all those experiences, he still remembers the ambitious kid that showed up one summer wanting to be a hard charging photojournalist, and the photography teacher who showed him a more creative way to shoot.

"To this day it's been a sort of guiding light in my career," says Taggart. "Not doing just what everybody else is doing, but breaking out of that box to be a little more creative than the guy next to you."

Photography staffers have several projects going over a two-week span that includes using older equipment and enlarging photographs to cover up some of the old siding at the Quartz Mountain lodge buildings.

Taggart continues, "Quartz Mountain is definitely a special, magical sort of place. It's an oasis in the desert."

Look inside some of these structures and you can see why this retreat is so special.

Past students here have referred to it as, not only an intensive journey into their own specialty, but a kin of cross pollenization of all kinds of artistic expression

Orchestra, dance, film and video, drawing and painting, acting, singing, creative writing.

One picture can't tell the whole story of this place, but being here sure can teach you how to start.

The 2018 Oklahoma Arts Institute ends June 24.

For more information about the camp go to

For more on Paul Taggart and his photography go to

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