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Adobe MAX: Walking Through the Neon Graveyard at Las Vegas’s Neon Museum

The annual photo walk at Adobe MAX, the conference that brings Adobe users, trainers and executives together to learn and to celebrate creativity, ranks high on every photographer’s wish list. At this year’s Adobe MAX, last month in Las Vegas, it was even more special, particularly to me.

The photo walk takes a select group of photographers, along with one of Adobe’s all-star trainers and photo gurus, to explore a part of the city. Last year in San Diego, the subject was the Gaslamp Quarter. In prior years, in downtown Los Angeles, the regular venue for Adobe MAX, many strange and historical spaces were photographically explored.

Vegas Thy Name is Neon

This year the guru-in-charge was pro-photographer Chris Orwig, assisted by a team of Adobe product specialists who provided tips and tricks along the way. The destination: The Neon Museum. You might be thinking, “I’ve seen neon signs at my local watering hole; why would I want to go to a museum?” Well, I’d bet my souvenir chip from the Aladdin that you haven’t seen neon like this before.

The Neon Boneyard houses over 200 of the most iconic neon signs from Las Vegas history. Old signs from casinos such as Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget, and the Stardust now inhabit a surrealistic landscape (as if Vegas weren’t strange enough already). Some of these ghosts-of-bachelor-parties-past you may never have heard of, while others are part of the culture and vernacular.

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Some of the signs in the Neon Museum are gigantic

The museum has a two-acre campus containing both restored signs and signs in their relic condition. We were warned before going to be wary of broken glass and metal, but I found the environment safe and the staff extremely helpful.

Besides photo shoots, the museum provides tours and can serve as a venue for weddings and other special events.

Make It Personal

Our Adobe guides encouraged us to look for ways to photograph these signs in a unique way. I chose to focus on the small bulbs in the big signs.

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Adobe MAX attendees exploring the history of Las Vegas

But it was personal to me in other ways as well. My parents first cruised through Vegas on our way to California when I was eight years old. I’ve been back at least 50 times, I’m sure. As I strolled through the museum, I kept thinking, “Oh, I remember that one.” As I took pictures of the Liberace sign, I wondered how many of the photographers at the event remembered that American pop icon.

Then I saw a sign from The Showboat. It was my parents’ favorite casino. I never got to go into it, as I was too young.

I found many more memories among the neon. I can’t guarantee you’ll find any ghosts, or memories of your own, but the museum is worth some time away from the slot machines. The Neon Museum, located on Las Vegas Boulevard not far from downtown, is a side excursion you should definitely take on your next – or first – trip to Vegas.

You can view my photos in the video below.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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