In thinking about this month’s theme of Language I remembered that I had not really shared here about my experience shooting at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.

I love language and the written word and I particularly love type. Typography and all things font-related seems to have become quite the rage lately and I’m not sure if my interest began before or during but I know that I am fully besotted. When I knew that I was going to be stopping over in Las Vegas on my way to Palm Springs the only place I wanted to visit was the Neon Museum (or  Neon Boneyard). I’d seen some photos of the place on Flickr. It’s basically a scrapyard where the retired neon signs of old Vegas have been laid to rest. Type? Tin? Rust? Colour? Oh yeah, I had to go.

After a bit of research and a chance discussion with a wedding photographer friend I found out that I could forego the 10am guided tour (with many associated photo restrictions) and book a personal photo shoot. It wasn’t going to be cheap but I would have the place to myself, be unrestricted in the amount of photo gear I could have and (the best part) I could shoot in the golden hour light.

I was lucky to be joined on this adventure by fellow Muse Holly, who acted as my “photographer’s assistant” (for official purposes I was the only one allowed to operate a camera) and moral support. I remember arriving a little late and a lot frazzled (Vegas rush hour traffic!). As I was signing all the forms my eyes were frantically darting around and my brain was trying to organize a shot list. I had just under an hour and I had to make it count. Once my forms were signed and I was free to shoot, I was just overwhelmed. There was SO much to see that I wasn’t seeing anything to shoot. Holly, bless her, jumped in to help and suggested shots. I shot them but I knew they weren’t me. I knew I needed to find my story in all this metal.

“What do you like?” Holly asked me.
“Shapes. Colours. Rust…” And as I started listing things my breathing slowed, the overwhelm dissipated and started seeing the shots. My shots.

My main plan was to shoot with my Polaroids. Now, this was two years ago and Impossible Project film being what it was then shooting the Polaroids meant shooting into a dark slide and handing the photo to Holly to put safely into her bag to develop. I was spending precious time and shooting precious film with absolutely zero feedback as to whether I was capturing anything worthwhile at all. I shot a few DSLR and iPhone images as well, just to ensure that I would have something to show for the day, and I’m glad I did because I really love some of those. The real joy for me, however, comes from the Polaroids.

After the shoot I remember heading back to the car feeling a combination of exhiliration and trepidation. I knew that I had made my pictures but I had no idea how they had translated to the film. The shoot was over. The sun had set and the park was closed. There were no do-overs. Holly handed me the stack of photos from her bag and I started flipping through them. There was nodding, and smiling and then some very happy cursing.

You all will know what it’s like to have shot the perfect subject on the perfect medium and have it turn out perfectly as you had imagined it when you hit the shutter button. Well, I was holding that in my hand. It was a pretty exceptional day.