Few cities in the US have been photographed more than Las Vegas. The city and the Strip are immediately familiar, even to those who have never been there, due to the thousands of images that have been captured over the years. Nevertheless, whether you are there for a show, a poker tournament or just to soak up the unique atmosphere of Sin City, you’ll want to take a few snaps for posterity. Here, we offer a few tips for getting the perfect shot.
Choose the golden hour for magical lighting
Daytime shots in Vegas can seem very harsh and appear almost over-exposed if you are not careful. It’s simply due to the climate. Remember, this is a city in the middle of the Nevada desert.
The golden hour is more accurately two golden half hours, that come just after the sun rises and just before it sets. As the name suggests, it is when the sun has a more golden hue, and this adds texture and warmth to your images.
You can also experiment with what is called the blue hour – this is the period just before sunrise or after sunset, and it can create some fabulous and atmospheric effects.
Let the neon work for you
Of course, Vegas is a city that really comes alive after dark. All that neon lighting is enough to make anyone view photography with some trepidation, but don’t be frightened of it. There will be a degree of “suck it and see” initially, but increasing the ISO and reducing the shutter speed just a little bit could work wonders. You could even experiment with long exposure effects.
Pay attention to the reflections made by the neon lights too, whether on water, in darkened windows or even on the street – little details like this add extra life to you images when you know to look out for them.
A few words about casinos and poker rooms
With a handful of exceptions, every casino and poker lounge in Las Vegas has signs up that prohibit photography. Ask anyone why, and you will get a vague reply muttering about security, as if you can somehow photograph the codes that will get you into the vaults, like Danny Ocean.
The truth is a little more mundane. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and that’s especially important to some of the VIPs and high rollers, who appreciate their privacy. These are people the casinos need to keep sweet, so of course they ban photography.
From a practical perspective, that means don’t point the camera at other guests, especially if they look familiar. Of course, if you bump into some famous celeb who offers to pose with you for a selfie, that’s another matter. Otherwise, shoot general scenes of the casino, be quick, just use a point and click, nothing more complex, and make absolutely certain you left the flash switched off.
One more point about casino photography – if you go into a poker room, leave the camera in your pocket. These days anyone in the US can learn how to play poker online (at https://www.tightpoker.com/how-to-play-poker/, for example) so we can all see what a poker table looks like. For a player, it can be distracting enough having someone look over their shoulder, if that someone starts taking photos, you can’t blame them for asking security to intervene.
Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it
Let’s face it, however well you capture the light, a photo of the Las Vegas sign or the Bellagio fountains is just another photo of the Las Vegas sign or the Bellagio fountains. However, when that photo has you or your traveling companion in the foreground, it becomes something special and unique.
That’s why it’s so important in Las Vegas to follow Madonna’s advice and strike a pose to create a memorable image. Don’t just stare blandly face-on at the camera, try something a little artistic. A simple but effective option is the three quarters pose, in which you turn your body slightly away from the camera while positioning one foot in front of the other. It creates an interesting and dynamic image, and incidentally, it makes the body look slimmer, too – worth keeping in mind if you have been sampling the legendary Las Vegas brunch buffets!