Vegas Neon

Las Vegas experienced one of its largest economic building booms during the 1990’s. The Mirage, Treasure Island, Excalibur, Venetian, Mandalay Bay, New York New York and Paris were replacing classic hotels like The Landmark, Hacienda, Sahara, Dunes and Desert Inn. The hotels of the Rat Pack era were being demolished to make way for the Mega resorts of the 1990’s. The face of the strip was changing quickly.

During this period, I worked as a freelance photographer for the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) to photograph the interiors and signage of the new hotels. YESCO was on the cutting edge of sign technology and were transitioning from hand blown neon to full motion video signs. YESCO’s sign business grew up with Las Vegas, from the first neon sign for the Boulder Club erected in the 1930’s to the four block long canopy of the Fremont Street Experience completed in 1995. The neon boneyard that is seen in so many commercials and rock videos is located in the back lot of YESCO. My images were used for the marketing of YESCO’s products and I was published regularly in the gaming industry magazines Gaming Today and Casino Journal.

The Vegas landscape is ever-changing, but I personally preferred the classic hand made neon. I was also fascinated by the contrast of how Vegas looked during the day—juxtaposed with its image at night. The harshness of the desert sun seems to remove all color from the city during the day. Vegas’s image at night is defined by light and not by architecture. Neon is the architecture of Las Vegas. When photographing the city by day I always used black and white film, while the night belonged to color.

This collection of photos comprises of my commercial and personal images of Las Vegas from the 1990’s. My work is photojournalistic in style with the intent of preserving a moment in time during the rapid change the city experiences.

Technical

During the 1990’s I worked with 4×5 film and Hasselblads.  Every image in this gallery was taken with 4×5 color negative film.  When photographing the large outdoor signs I always prefered to use a view camera which allowed me to correct the perspective.