Taking pictures in Vegas

Discussion in 'Travel' started by zafar|1, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. I will be visiting Las Vegas for a convention and if time permits, plan to take pictures on the strip inside and outside Casinos.

    Is it ok to take pictures inside casinos? Any suggestions about taking pictures on the strip. I may be doing that at night.
  2. In Vegas, you can take pictures almost anywhere - inside and outside of Casinos. Atlantic City is much stricter - no inside Casino shots there.
  3. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    My experience - admittedly from 5 years or so ago, is that
    • Security guards don't much like tripods. I think this is symptomatic of a view that amateur photographs are OK but they aren't going to make it easy to make professional shots.
    • Photographing outside is fine and inside is often fine, but see what I said about tripods
    • I got the very clear impression that photographs inside the casino part of the hotels were not allowed. I wouldn't bank on getting candids of people engaging closely with their machine; watching expressions of people as dice roll and wheels spin etc.
    • The bridges over the strip are prime sites. But be careful of vibrations caused by traffic or even heavy footsteps.
  4. I had no problems taking a few shots inside casinos in Vegas. I wasn't trying to take a picture of any one person. I got a dirty look once from a dealer, but nobody ever said anything. Then again, I didn't stay and press my luck, either. I took a couple shots and moved on, and those were mostly from the perimeter.
  5. Night time pictures of the lights along the strip are my favorites from a recent trip. A tripod is essential.
    Be sure to take the bus or taxi out to the old strip at Fremont Street. They have some of the old casino signs set up, and there's a great overhead light show every 30 minutes or so.
    You can buy a 24 hour bus pass that allows you to get on and off anywhere along the strip.
  6. Last time I was there external shots were allowed, although sometimes finding good spots for a tripod for night shots is difficult. As noted, there are pedestrian overpasses which may work and also around the street level below the passes, there is space where peds are fenced off from crossing at street level.
    The hotel where we stayed was heavily promoted for it's antiques and special features so much of the interior was readily photographed. I asked about the gaming areas and they really didn't want photos taken of the gaming areas and they specifically asked me not to take pictures of money handling and the cage area - the main cashier operation. They would have allowed some shots of side areas and suggested shooting early in the morning as there were typically fewer customers and much more open opportunities. The concerns would seem to be privacy of the patrons and security of the games and related operations.
  7. I'm also heading to Vegas for a conference next month. I read somewhere (possibly on this forum) about the neon sign "boneyard ". Does anyone have any experience with this location?
  8. Twilight is great with Vegas lights and a good western sunset. The pedestrian crosswalks are good vantage points, but heed the warning about vibrations. They have Plexiglas walls over the street, but offer open views at either end. For large scale shots the Stratosphere is great - they have a deck where you can shoot (twilight again) at the top.
    Inside Bellagio is a conservatory that is very popular for shots of the flowers. The fountain show in front of Bellagio looks better (IMHO) from the front of Bellagio with the Paris casino in the background. It's well lighted for shots after dark, too. When shooting outside on the strip, be mindful of the crowds - the foot traffic can be a problem but you can usually find good spots and most folks are either cooperative or at least not a hassle.
    Inside, don't expect to move in close to the table games and shoot away - you'll be asked to back off. A longer lens and shooting from a distance can work for table games or shots of individuals at machines without irritating the paying (losing) customers, but a tripod will be in the way and the staff will ask you to stop. General area shots of casino interiors won't cause any problems.
    As to the boneyard, go here:
    If you check the casino web sites, you'll find most have a few shots of their interiors that could help plan which casinos you might prefer to shoot. The Venetian has a lot of style both inside and out. Luxor has more style outside than in, but lately has been marring their appearance with huge signs on the side of the pyramid facing the street. A little homework can help you save time when you're here. And don't make the mistake of saying "that casino isn't far - let's walk." The casinos are huge, larger than folks are accustomed to, so they tend to seriously underestimate the size of them and therefore, the distance between them. They are definately farther ways than you think!
  9. You won't need a tripod. I shot the strip at night at 400-800 iso, f/2.8, handheld. If you got IS you can drop the iso even more. Twilight is better than night of course. The pedestrian overpasses suck because plexiglass and chainlink fencing. Better to shoot from the curb, from the top of steps, tops of escalators, etc. Watch your back on the strip at night, not 100% safe - don't get too absorbed in your photography.
    Gaming. I think walking up to a random game table and starting to shoot strangers is not advisable. I don't think that would go over well with patrons and management. How about going out with some friends/colleagues, try some craps or blackjack or roulette, and trying a few shots then. When I was in Vegas I saw groups of people doing just that. They don't bother partons who are spending money.
  10. I agree with Arie, if you have good IS or fast lenses, you don't really need a tripod for shooting at night in Vegas, and with the crowds it would be quite challenging. I used a fairly slow Sigma 18-200 OS and a EF 50/1.4, and got good results with both. Also, no problem shooting inside Casinos, but I did not try shooting any gaming action except for shots of friends.
    I was very disappointed with my results shooting the Bellagio fountains. I went down on our second night there and took some shots that did not turn out to suit me, and so I went back late on our third and final night, only to learn that the fountains shutdown at I believe mid-night. Anyway, the key to getting good shots of the fountains is to stake out a location to shoot from before the crowds form. I think the fountains run every 30 minutes (when they are running) and the crowds form pretty early before each run.
    A couple of other notes: The top of the Stratosphere is a great location to shoot skyline shots from. And also, don't forget that Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are a fairly quick 30-45 minute drive from the strip.
  11. It is true that there is a state regulation (not a criminal law) that allows the casino to prohibit photography in the casino itself. The casino's interest is in not allowing someone to photograph activities that might help someone rob the casino or gain an advantage in a game. Very rare. They are more likely to stop a photographer because it's disturbing other customers, or the casino employee THINKS it's disturbing customers.
    The Bellagio fountains do have operating hours - posted on signs along Las Vegas Blvd (the strip) in front of the resort. I think they start around 4 PM and run to midnight, but don't take my word for it. They can be cancelled if the winds are too high - blows the water into the heavy traffic on the street.
    Shooting from the sidewalk by the strip means dealing with crowds, and attracting crowds is why they put the fountains there to begin with. Works very well. Avoid Friday and Saturday - crowds are much lighter Sunday-Thursday - but the street side will have the biggest crowds. On the hotel side, there are 2 vantage points. There's an overlook by the front portico/valet parking area where you get a somewhat elevated view, and the road that goes around the lagoon has a sidewalk on the side toward the water and closer to water level. Both will offer the strip and especially the Paris resort in the background and are generally less crowded that the strip side - I've set up a tripod on the hotel side without a problem, but Friday and Saturday are likely to be a challenge.
    The elevated crosswalks, like I said, have Plexiglas walls - nice when it's windy, but no good for photography. But they are open at either end and offer elevated viewpoints if you want that. Just not from the middle of the street (disappointing).

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