When John Barnes set out to photograph neon signs across America, he assumed he’d find a treasure trove in Las Vega, NV. It turns out the bulk of the interesting signs he came across were everywhere but the Strip.
At Smithsonian Magazine they interviewed Barnes about his recent book, Neon Road Trip. Among the most interesting points in the interview—aside from the revelation that he took more than 35,000 photos across 38 states in a multi-year trip around the U.S. to capture all these cool signs—is how small a role Las Vegas, arguably one of the first places most people think of in terms of abundant neon lights, played in the final product. He explains:
What started the book project was I went to Las Vegas for a wedding and my friend and I went to the Neon Museum. I’m looking around the boneyard [where old signs are laid to rest] and going, ‘Wow, this is where all the signs are.’ That night I went out looking for neon signs, and there’s probably only about half a dozen to a dozen lit neon signs left in Vegas. Most of the signs you see in Vegas now are LED. But there are pockets that you’ll see in Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin and San Francisco.
For a look at more of his cool photos from around the country as well as some tips on the best locations to see collections of neon lights, check out the full article here.