Rain, neon and the ephemeral nature of both
As the rain started falling, people rose from their desks like zombies and walked to stare as it tapped against the windows. I’d just started a job after moving to Las Vegas from Dallas where it rained fairly frequently, so I wound up staring at them, wondering what it was that was so mesmerizing.
Now I understand. After living here for 24 years, I’m one of them. Once when there was a really heavy rain, I opened my garage door to be able to get closer to it than I would have been just staring out of a window. The neighbor across the street was doing the same thing. He smiled at me and nodded. Yes, fellow rain zombie, water falling from the sky is a glorious thing.
This photo essay began as the result of serendipity. It took awhile to complete because of procrastination and bad weather—only in this case the bad weather came in the form of cloudless, dry days. The procrastination was mainly laziness, although I spent a lot of time thinking about water and neon, the former being a rare commodity in Las Vegas, the latter an increasingly rare one.
As for the serendipity: I had an assignment downtown a few years ago and was walking back to the parking garage after experiencing one of those storms that seems to come down in walls of water. While I was waiting for a light to change at a crosswalk, I caught part of a reflection out of the corner of my eye. I took a step back, knelt down and there it was: a neon sign rendered in a puddle of water so that it looked like it was floating on clouds of concrete. After taking some shots, I decided to make a project out of it, getting two more shots of different signs on that same evening, one looking like a pointillist painting, the other like a watercolor bleeding in the rain.
Tired, I walked back to my car thinking I’d finish the project after a few more good storms.
Then the bad weather set in. Day after day of dryness, broken by occasional rain at the most inconvenient times. Daytime rain was no good because the neon wasn’t on. Night rain never seemed to happen when I was ready to drive downtown and was a crapshoot because of the isolated nature of rain here. Once I grabbed my gear and jumped in the car during a downpour where I live, only to find it getting drier and drier as I got closer to downtown.
But the very next night, it all came together. I got a text from Senior Managing Editor Matt O’Brien saying it was pouring downtown and even though it was dry where I live, I packed my gear and headed out. This time I spent about two hours trying to keep the cameras from getting wet while shooting during intermittent showers.
What started as a quick and easy project turned into a meditation on rain, neon and the ephemeral nature of both. Four years later, it’s finally done.