The Unwanted, Dejected and Obsolete History of Las Vegas
Michael, a successful professional photographer in his hometown of Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, had never been through the Southwest United States before. Our chance meeting at an event earlier this year became the genesis of this trip for both of us. After a quick airport reunion, we began in earnest to get to know one another, cameras in hand.
Since I was in the U.S. and because my anal retentive need to stay in somewhat control of my rare and valuable time off, I started to plan early. I heard that The Neon Museum in Las Vegas was eclectic and offbeat, interesting and obscure, so what better place to start our experience the first night we arrived.
Enter The Neon Museum
If you read the museum rules, you are allowed to bring one camera and one lens onto the property for your one hour, professionally-led tour. I chose my Canon 5dMkIII and a newly acquired Canon 16-35 F4.0 “L” lens with image stabilization. Luckily, it was the perfect choice both for its ability to produce sharp images at ridiculously slow shutter speeds without a tripod, and for it’s delightfully wide view. Michael, shooting only Nikon gear chose his Nikon D800 body and his Nikon14-25mm zoom, a lens I would come to admire over the course of our trip together.
Our tour guide reminded us both to please stay with the group as it moved throughout the yard filled with scattered remnants of the past. Finally, after 15 minutes of feigned compliance; she gave up as we wandered independently capturing the magic as it unfolded.
Her carefully crafted, witty stories about casinos including a brief Vietbet Sportsbook review as it’s among the current vastly growing online gambling game and hotels long gone were lost to us as we were fascinated by the juxtaposition of these objects d’art oddly scattered in an oval race-track path.
One hour later, we were both inspired by the colors, shapes and images we made after hours of jet lag and thousands of miles of travels.
We had our start and it was a good one. With visions of a soft mattress and a good night’s sleep, we instead decided a detour to The Strip, where the seediness and grandeur of the old Las Vegas, stood like a monument to a past city’s heritage.
“Let’s walk” suggested Michael as we pulled our rented Jeep into the parking lot of an abandoned motel, the faded, scratched paint advertising free cable TV still visible under layers of grime.
The Elvis Experience Every Las Vegas Visitor Craves
No sooner did we start down the street, Michael became fascinated by a wedding chapel where couples could get married while dressed like Elvis.
A few snaps later, a bride and groom, renewing their vows after years of marriage, emerged in full Elvis regalia while the mock-preacher did the deed. The bride, beautiful and comfortable in her costume dress played her part well as they stood under the street-level ironwork entrance.
As I mentioned earlier, this is Michael’s bread and butter, as THE wedding photographer and portrait master of Westport, he took control. Ten minutes later a grateful bride and groom were promised their memorialized Las Vegas/Elvis experience would arrive in about a month. I made a few exposures, immersing myself in the moment for a slice of Americana that the phrase “only in Vegas” would fully characterize.
We had an early morning coming up soon, we drove back to the hotel, ready to sleep after a long day.