The Strip is the colloquial name for S. Las Vegas Boulevard, a roughly 4 mile thoroughfare in the city of Las Vegas, Nevada enjoyed for its high density of casino hotels and shops. For a photographer, this is a visual playground. While conducting a solo photowalk after midnight along this route, I met a fellow photographer who shared the same idea on the eve of his 17th birthday.
Meet aspiring photographer Gabriel. We were a dozen feet away from each other with our cameras perched on tripods to capture our version of the same subject: the view from the corner of Caesars Palace Dr. / S. Las Vegas Blvd. Gabriel initiated a conversation with me. He asked if I had figured out the programmed time changes on the light patterns we were observing on the building across the street: The LINQ Hotel & Casino.
After both of us were satisfied with our own takes, Gabriel moved up his tripod several steps to the wall near my gear set up. I explained my stranger portrait projects and he agreed to participate. He suggested that his camera appear in his foreground, so he posed himself on the wall behind the equipment. The nude statue to the left of his leg is the visual anchor that I used in my wide angle panorama, into which I made this image . I included the figure, the illuminated street sign and some glowing casino colors to lend his portrait a sense of place.
When I set out on my photowalk, I intended to make a series of long exposures of the architecture and the street. Without my external flash, the image was made at 1/8 second at F/6.3 at ISO 2500 at 10mm, at 12:42AM. Gabriel was up to the challenge of holding still. After two takes I was content we had something for his memories and my project.
After the picture taking, we walked together in the northerly direction on the sidewalk closer to our respective hotels. I learned more about him. Gabriel is completely self-taught in his photo techniques. He’s in high school in San Diego, CA and his immediate goal is to develop a portfolio to get accepted to the Yale University School of Art, to study photography, of course.
“Having someone challenge me with my photography will really help me improve,” He said. “I come from a family of doctors who have ‘no comment’ on my photography interest. I would be able to get a superior education in other subjects at Yale, so they may support my decision. I’m determined to get accepted there.”
Gabriel relies on his parents’ benevolence to acquire his camera gear and process his film. He knows that photography is an an expensive hobby and he realizes he’s fortunate they make it possible. He was shooting with Fuji Provia 100 color reversal film on a Mayima RB67 using a 127mm lens. As a backup, he was also carrying an Olympus Infinity Stylus filled with drugstore film, and a Fujifilm Rangefinder x100t. He gave me peek through the viewfinder and to see our colored scene as black and white was a bit unsettling for me. Gabriel has amassed some pretty cool toys to develop his aesthetic.
I wish him the best in pursuing his artistic goals, and enjoyed the time with a fellow photographer as part of my own vacation memory.
Yes, this is a busy frame. For me, it succeeds at calmly capturing Gabriel who was serious and meticulous in a field of typical Vegas distractions of lights and sights. For example, he is flanked on one side by a naked golden statue, and on the other side is a bundled-up coed group of revelers with one young lady paused in her own statuesque pose while toting an emptied high-heel adorned drinking funnel. That’s so, “Vegas Baby!”