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Downtown Container Park Photo Shoot for MyVegas Magazine

Normally I don’t post in my blog about different accolades I’m awarded but this time I thought it would make for a fun blog about the craziness of being published. I’ve had the privilege of being published in magazines around the world, in major ad campaigns, and even on the deck of a skateboard, but sometimes it’s the smaller accomplishments that serve as the largest personal rewards.

Back in the autumn of 2013 I was reading a newsletter from Nevada Magazine about how they were looking for submissions on different topics. Much of what they publish are about the rural areas of Nevada which I rarely shoot but one topic really jumped out at me. They were looking for photos of the new Downtown Container Park which is the brain child of the urban development project of Tony Hsieh (of Zappos fame). As I am frequently shooting in the the downtown area of Las Vegas I started thinking of all the ideas of what could be photographed in this highly creative location on East Fremont Street. Inside the Container Park are small stores and boutiques…all locally owned, in addition to some great eateries, a HUGE treehouse/play area for kids AND adults (adults get the run of the place in the later hours) and live music all day and evening. Then of course, there is “The Mantis”.

Entrance to the Downtown Container Park. The entire facility is made of recycled shipping containers!

One year at Burning Man, Tony Hsieh saw this giant robotic praying mantis on display shooting huge fireballs from its antennae and it was love at first sight. Tony purchased the mechanical monster and brought it out to some First Friday events before eventually making it a permanent home at the entrance to the Downtown Container Park. Every 15 minutes they put on a show with perhaps the most interesting fire show you’ve ever seen. Needless to say, it’s a huge hit with visitors and I knew that if done right, a great photo shoot was in the making! Now I just had to convince Nevada Magazine about it not to mention the Container Park.

The Mantis: A menacing robot that shoots fire from it's antennae and is a huge hit with visitors!

The Mantis: A menacing robot that shoots fire from it’s antennae and is a huge hit with visitors! This is one of my test shots for the project.


Act II…The Preparation.

On an unrelated project I was working with an amazing local fashion model, Samantha Sable. She and I were working on a photo shoot for a pinup magazine. During one of our conversations in setting up the shoot Samantha had mentioned she had a very unique skill…she was a fire breather. A soon as she said those words my eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. “YOU’RE A WHAT? A FIRE BREATHER? Wow do I have a concept to pitch to you!” I already had the finished concept complete in my head. I wanted to pose Samantha breathing fire in front of the Mantis doing its thing. I pitched her the idea and she was on board! The thing is, with most photo editorials in magazines, they don’t just want one photo, they usually want a series of photographs that can span several pages along with a written editorial piece of some sort. Nevada Magazine though is more photo-based so something written wasn’t necessary but having an assortment of photos was. Having one killer photo was great, but they needed more. So, I recruited a second model…James Michael Pelz. Even though they had never met, I wanted to create a series of photos of a couple walking through the mall to create a certain mood. Samantha, being one of the easiest models I’ve ever worked with, was on board with that and so she and James became my “couple” for the evening. Based on the photos, you’d never guess they met just 30 minutes prior to shooting.

Broken Martini. One of my all-time favorite pinup projects I've ever shot for.

Broken Martini. One of my all-time favorite pinup projects I’ve ever shot for.

 

Photos from our pinup shoot that were featured in Fashion Bombshell Magazine.

Photos from our pinup shoot that were featured in Fashion Bombshell Magazine.

 

Before I ever took the first photo though, there was a LOT of things to prepare for. I first wanted to get some test shots with Samantha. I didn’t have a huge amount of experience photographing fire breathers so I went to her home and in front of her neighbors, we did a fire breathing test shoot that came out great. I was stoked.

Fire breathing test photo. The neighbors all thought we were crazy.

Fire breathing test photo. The neighbors all thought we were crazy.

So, off to Nevada Magazine. I pitched them the entire concept of what I wanted to do and they went nuts for it. “So you already have permission from the Container Park to do all this?” they asked. “Oh, of course I do…they are all on board.” …I lied. I knew that when I pitched this to the Container Park management they would love the idea, but I hadn’t even approached them with this yet. I wanted to make sure that these photos would be published before I went that route so now I had to get the Container Park as stoked as I was and the good news is, they were! Over the course of several meetings and a huge volume of emails, I finally got the green light to do the shoot exactly as I planned it and the management and staff of the Container Park was really excited about the concept and, of course, the positive publicity they would receive. Two weeks before the shoot I even went to several of the local vendors to get shopping bags we could use so they would get a plug as well and make sure everyone was happy on their end. Everything was going exactly according to plan. That’s when things started to go sideways.

“Our legal department says you need to have a $2 million dollar insurance policy to cover the fire breather” they told me three days before the shoot. In a panic, I called my insurance company I use for my business but they didn’t have a system in place to cover such a shoot on short notice. Eventually I found a company that specializes in insuring circus performers so in less than 24 hours, I had insurance papers in hand! “Do you have your permit from the city also?” they asked. It turns out that since some of the photos may be shot from the city street area, the city of Las Vegas gets involved and for liability and filming purposes, they require you to have a permit. So, after dealing with the city bureaucracy for a day, we got our permits on short notice too.

It was a cold night in early January of 2014 when we decided to do the shoot to make a February 1st deadline with the magazine. Las Vegas was going through an uncharacteristic warm spell this year but it was still cold out. Everyone arrived on time and ready to go. We decided to do the fire shoot first and then shoot through the Container Park after as they neared closing time. We arrived on the scene and were greeted by the representatives of the Container Park who wanted to oversee the mayhem we were about to create. Samantha got into her performing outfit, I was setting up lights, and then we got word of a small problem. There was a gas leak in the Mantis and they had to get some parts to fix it. Not good. After a minor delay, we were back in business. The pyrotechnicians who operated the Mantis were more than accommodating and helped us immensely with angling the giant robotic beast, performing test shots for me, etc. These guys were just awesome. It took me several test shots before I could really dial in the settings on my camera to get the effect that I wanted all while maintaining a good photograph of all the subjects involved. Creative lighting techniques really came into play to make this all work. It would not be an easy shoot.

As we began to setup, a crowd began to form thinking something significant was about to happen and they didn’t want to miss it. Samantha spent some time coordinating cues with the pyro guys to get in sync with their firing off the Mantis and her breathing fire. Those two were in step with one another like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire! Samantha walked out, took her torches and blew fire 20 feet into the air while the Mantis was shooting fireballs high into the sky. It was AMAZING, and the crowd cheered so loud I’m sure they could be heard for miles! It was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Now though came the important part…did we get the shot? I hit the “preview” button on my Nikon D800 and Shazam…magic was captured! I asked to do a few more takes from some different angles and everyone was more than happy to do so. “How do they look?” Samantha asked. “I’ll show you in a minute but let’s keep shooting.” I said as I could barely contain my excitement. Several repeat shoots later, I knew we were done. The crowd gave everyone a huge applause and many people wanted to go talk to the amazing fire breather they just saw but Samantha was dying to see the photos…as I was I. We started reviewing them in the camera and we all gave each-other a high five in excitement. We nailed it.

My personal favorite of all the fire breathing photos we shot but was not used for publication. :(

My personal favorite of all the fire breathing photos we shot but was not used for publication. :(

After everything calmed down, now it was time for Part 2…shooting through the park. Over the next two hours we setup shoots in a variety of locations. The nice thing about the Downtown Container Park is that there are so many interesting things to shoot in there so it makes it quite easy to get great photos inside. So off we went. I had our two models sipping coffee inside an orange container that overlooks the entrance, we got photos of them “shopping”, having fun in the playhouse, and people watching. It was great. The rapport these two had on camera was wonderful and it’s proof that when you work with professionals, you get professional results.

One of the photos that was used in publication. This took a little trickery to shoot and a great wide-angle lens.

One of the photos that was used in publication. This took a little trickery to shoot and a great wide-angle lens.

 

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Another photo used in the publication. I really loved the poses of our models, the color of the inside of the container, and the great El Cortez sign in the background.

 

A slightly closer shot of Samantha and James

A slightly closer shot of Samantha and James

Another one of my favorite photos. The playground area inside the Downtown Container Park is a huge hit with children AND adults who are encouraged to be a kid again inside.

Another one of my favorite photos. The playground area inside the Downtown Container Park is a huge hit with children AND adults who are encouraged to be a kid again inside.

There are so many cool angles and textures inside the Container Park, I really wanted to shoot more black-and-white photos than I did. This was one of my more favorites though.

There are so many cool angles and textures inside the Container Park, I really wanted to shoot more black-and-white photos than I did. This was one of my more favorites though.

 

We were done with the shoot, but the photos still needed retouching and the fire photos, while awesome, needed quite a bit of work in Photoshop to make them look as perfect as they could be. After all the post-production work was done, I submitted the photos over to Nevada Magazine a week before our deadline and instantly I got the email back from them…they loved the photos! They went nuts for them. Mission Accomplished!!! Nevada Magazine is a quarterly magazine and we were expecting to be published in their Spring issue, which would be great for all of us. Wrong. “We can’t afford to pay you for the photos” my editor contact emailed me. “What are you talking about?” I replied. “Well, it turns out that we ran out of budget for this issue and we didn’t think you would want to submit just for photo credit so we missed the deadline and my boss is saying he can’t use the photos this time around.”

I emailed everyone involved and we were just devastated. All that work for nothing. Nevada Magazine was very nice to us but it just wasn’t in the cards I suppose. Sometimes that’s just the nature of this business. Now I have possession of an amazing photo shoot with no home. Needless to say, I was a little upset at how this went down and I knew that with a little tenacity, we would find someone willing to publish the shoot. I sent out emails to all the local magazines and newspapers and I received back tons of positive responses. The best one came from a magazine that I actually thought would be one of the most difficult to get into because the quality of their magazine is so high and that is MyVegas Magazine. This quarterly publication reaches tens of thousands of readers throughout the Las Vegas valley of both locals and tourists alike. They have a great editorial staff, writers, photos, and a very good presence through Las Vegas. They absolutely loved the photos and most certainly wanted to run them…but they wanted a little more. “The photos are amazing but we usually like a small editorial to go with them. Are you able to write a little something to go with the photos?” I pointed them to this blog and their response back was wonderful. They asked me to keep it very brief (less than 200 words) and they would be happy to take care of us in their Summer issue.

As I’m sure you can deduce by now, I’m not one to keep things brief. 200 words? This sounded more daunting than photographing a fire breather. I knew I needed some assistance with this and it’s always nice to be able to call-in favors. One of my past clients and now friends is Ben Spillman. Ben was a writer for the Las Vegas Review Journal and recently moved up to Reno to write for the Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper. He’s an awesome writer and man of many talents. I sent him over the article I wrote and he provided me with some very useful feedback. When finished, I submitted it over to the magazine and they thought it was great. Now …the waiting game.

Months later I get an email. “You have a package waiting for you at our office if you would like to pick it up. We could mail it to you too if you wish, but either way, your issue is now available and we thought you’d like to get a few copies before they hit newsstands.” We were published! The folks at MyVegas Magazine are just an awesome group. I couldn’t wait. I hopped in my SUV and drove down to their offices in anticipation. The box was waiting for me with the receptionist and I couldn’t wait until I got home to open it. I cracked the seal and the magazines inside looked amazing. I flipped to our segment and there we were.

We even got mentioned on the cover!

We even got mentioned on the cover!

 

Photo used on the table of contents too!

Photo used on the table of contents too!

 

Here are the other finished photos of the fire breathing. The first one was the photo used for publication:

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!

Downtown Container Park - Mantis Photo 2

Words cannot describe how cool this looked in person but I hope you enjoy the photo of it. Please leave comments below if you do!

So out of all of this, we managed to turn lemons into lemonade and WOW was that some great Lemonade! If you haven’t been able to pick up a copy of the magazine around Las Vegas, you can see the digital copy of BY CLICKING HERE. or you can copy and paste the link below into your browser:

http://issuu.com/robh.myvegas/docs/mvsummer2014/41?e=11305101/8321735

Special thanks to the magazine, of course, for taking such great care of us and helping us to find a home for this complicated project. Also, special thanks to Samantha and James for some awesome modeling work and especially Samantha for her incredible fire-breathing talents and professionalism. While James is no longer actively modeling, Samantha most certainly is. For information on booking Samantha for photo shoots, you can contact her at golden8239@yahoo.com and to see more of her work, feel free to visit her on Model Mayhem

As a professional Las Vegas photographer for over 15 years, I specialize in photo shoots of all shapes and sizes so if you are in need of something wild and crazy for a commercial shoot, publication, or if you just want some great photos taken at the Container Park, please email me at adam@shotbyadam.com or give me a call at 702-204-1740 and we can discuss your next shoot in greater detail!

ShotByAdam.com

Photography Around Lake Mead

When people come to Las Vegas they think of the bright lights, world class shows and restaurants, gambling, and shopping galore. What many tourists who come here don’t know is that right outside of Las Vegas are nature areas that are not only amazing to visit, but also very easy to get to. To our West we have the Red Rock Canyon State Park and to the Northeast we have the Valley of Fire State Park, both of which are easy to get to but because of this fact, many tourists travel to these destinations in search of that magical photo. The problem is, when they arrive, they soon realize that they are in mixed company with the thousands of other out-of-towners with the same idea. It’s not to say that you can’t get an amazing photo in these two locations as both of these locations are certainly worth the trip, it is just that if you want to have some amazing photos without the bus loads of tourists rampaging through the area, then there is a different destination to consider.

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests for photo shoots from couples wanting engagement photos, family portraits, or even hiking photos from one of the surrounding nature areas outside of Las Vegas. Most people think of Red Rock right away and usually decide against Valley of Fire because of the longer drive (about 1 hour outside of Las Vegas) and busy roads from tourists. What I have discovered is that a better choice might actually be in the areas around the Lake Mead National Park (Specifically what is referred to as the Lake Mead National Recreation Area).

One of the locations I found while I was out scouting on the south west side of Lake Mead. Out here are some amazing canyons and rock formations but like many of the really great locations, 4-wheel drive is recommended.

One of the locations I found while I was out scouting on the south west side of Lake Mead. Out here are some amazing canyons and rock formations but like many of the really great locations, 4-wheel drive is recommended.

 

One of the great pleasures of being a photographer in Las Vegas is that we have so many wonderfully talented people here. I recently did an awesome shoot with local model Kalliann Haas at some of my favorite secret Lake Mead locations. If you are an avid reader of my blog, you’ll know that Kalliann is the model I shot for the Las Vegas Review Journal article that was written about me last year. A full-time professional model, Kalliann is really a tomboy by nature who’s hobbies including Quad racing and drifting race cars. By day though, you can see Kalliann as a showgirl street performer or working as a model for tradeshows and conventions.

Vegas Showgirl / Street Performer Kalliann Haas shows off her amazing costume at the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.

Vegas Showgirl / Street Performer Kalliann Haas shows off her amazing costume at the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.

Even the most beautiful supermodels though are aided by the talents of a great makeup artist. Over the years I’ve really learned that excellent makeup application for photo shoots is just as essential as the location, wardrobe, and even photography. It’s a collaboration of talents that all make a great shoot come together, whether you are a professional model or just a 9-to-5er looking for some spectacular wedding photos. I almost always recommend now that for any high end photo shoot like a wedding or portraits, that all parties (yes, even the guys) get some form of professional makeup application. Some makeup artists prefer to work in the confines of a studio or makeup counter, but in a crazy town like Las Vegas, you have to be prepared to work in the weirdest of conditions. One of my favorite professional makeup artists here in Las Vegas is Alyxandra Joy, who can work her magic in the strangest places possible. Here you can see her doing a 1-hour makeup job on Kalliann from the back of her car in the parking lot of Texas Station. Welcome to Las Vegas. :-)

Alyxandra Joy is used to working on everyone from world famous models to brides on their wedding day. Today, she's applying makeup in the front lines with model Kalliann Haas.

Alyxandra Joy is used to working on everyone from world famous models to brides on their wedding day. Today, she’s applying makeup in the front lines with model Kalliann Haas.

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After makeup, we then headed out to Lake Mead. As we traveled along the roads surrounding the area, we stopped to get photos at some very cool places. Locations most people wouldn’t even know existed complete with large rock formations, deep canyons, and big, beautiful skies.

Kalliann shows her true colors...in her off-roading attire out at Lake Mead.

Kalliann shows her true colors…in her off-roading attire out at Lake Mead.

 

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When most people visit any of the destinations around Lake Mead, they think of rocky beaches, busy marinas and boat docks, and that’s about it. As a Las Vegas native I’ve had the luxury of exploring all around Lake Mead and every time I do, I discover new and exciting areas that most people would never realize is even there. For starters, there are the red rock formations. Yes, you heard me right. Most people associate Lake Mead with brown dirt and rocks but if you know where to look, there are some awesome places to have photo shoots done around Lake Mead that are not only exceptionally easy to get to (if you know where to go) but also resemble exactly what you see at Valley of Fire but with a much shorter trip and a lot less tourists. When people ask me to shoot their wedding or engagement photos at Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon, I now suggest we shoot at Lake Mead for these reasons. Plus, there are a lot less park rangers to deal with.

The best part of shooting against these beautiful red rocks is that whether you are wearing jeans and leather or a full length wedding gown, everyone can look beautiful in such an amazing setting.

The best part of shooting against these beautiful red rocks is that you can look incredible whether you are wearing jeans and leather or a full length wedding gown or tuxedo.

Red colors look AMAZING against the red rocks out at Lake Mead!

Red colors look AMAZING against the red rocks out at Lake Mead!

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Lake Mead is famous for it’s easy-access marinas so boating and WaveRunners are a common sight all through Lake Mead from the Boulder Basin Las Vegas Boat Harbor to the Calville Bay Marina, but there are very few places to actually go swimming around Lake Mead. The most popular place is Boulder Beach where many tourists go to swim as well as many Las Vegas locals as well. While there are no lifeguards on duty, it doesn’t stop people by the hundreds from visiting the small, rocky beach every day during the summer months. Many photographers I know have attempted to do photo shoots in the area only to leave in frustration because the photos frequently have litter in them from the unclean beach or random swimmers in the shot. I was one of them too many years ago…that is, until I decided to scout out some great water locations to shoot in that were not only safe, but off the beaten path resulting in unobstructed beauty like no other place in Southern Nevada, as you can see from our great photo shoot.

 

Lake Mead at sunset can be one of the most beautiful areas in southern Nevada to photograph. The key is knowing where to go. Shhhhh....it's a secret I share only with my clients. :)

Lake Mead at sunset can be one of the most beautiful areas in southern Nevada to photograph. The key is knowing where to go. Shhhhh….it’s a secret I share only with my clients. :)

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A talented model who is confident in her poses makes any photo shoot easy! Great job Kalliann!

A talented model who is confident in her poses makes any photo shoot easy! Great job Kalliann!

 

Special credits go to:

Model: Kalliann Christine Haas. For booking information contact Kalliann at kalliannhaas1@cox.net or see her full portfolio at www.modelmayhem.com/kalliannchristinehaas.

Makup: Alyxandra Joy.   For booking contact Alyxandra at 11alyx11@gmail.com or by phone at 702-722-7400.

If you are looking to book some amazing outdoor scenic photos near Las Vegas, I highly recommend shooting at Lake Mead. I know all the great spots to shoot at they are easier to get to than you might realize…you just need to know where to look. If you’re interested booking a shoot, give me a call at 702-204-1740 or email me at adam@shotbyadam.com.

ShotByAdam.com 

Las Vegas Street Performers and Entertainers

Two years ago I wrote a blog about the street performers cropping up in Las Vegas in droves. That was two years ago, and a lot has changed since then and so I thought I would write a new blog with a more updated point of view. It’s gotten to the point now where you can’t walk down any block of Las Vegas Blvd (“The Strip”) south of The Wynn and not see at least a dozen or so different characters milling about. It’s one of the few places in the world where you can see Spider Man having a conversation with the Cookie Monster or Chewbacca hanging out with Hello Kitty. Truly, a walk down the Las Vegas sidewalks allow you to witness quite the menagerie of characters, that’s for sure.

Las Vegas Street Performers of the Super Mario Brothers. They look great, but aren't quite the draw at night in Sin City.

Las Vegas Street Performers of the Super Mario Brothers. They look great, but aren’t quite the draw at night in Sin City.

But what is the real scoop with these people? Are they really as aggressive for tips as the media makes them out to be? Are these people really just homeless people in costume? I decided to hit the streets and find out once and for all for myself. Of course, in doing so, I had to bring my camera and I also decided to recruit one of the best street performers I knew, professional model, writer, and raconteur, Sarah Jane Woodall, to help me out. Sarah and I have a long history of working together on different photography projects and whenever I need a model for some off-the-wall shoot, she is the first person I call.

Every Photographic Cliche rolled into one photo. Here Sarah Jane Woodall poses topless with electrical tape pasties on railroad tracks while wearing a cowboy hat, mermaid outfit, angel wings, and a gas mask while holding a machine gun and American flag while posing with an electric guitar...the whole enchilada!

Every Photographic Cliche rolled into one photo. Here Sarah Jane Woodall poses topless with electrical tape pasties on railroad tracks while wearing a cowboy hat, mermaid outfit, angel wings, and a gas mask while holding a machine gun and American flag while posing with an electric guitar and draped with Caution tape…the whole enchilada!

To put Sarah’s life in perspective, she has an entire bedroom in her home just devoted to different wardrobe pieces she has assembled or made over the years ranging from go-go outfits to her pink Elvis costume. Sarah is one of the busiest models I have ever met where her repertoire of work involves everything from fetish modeling to wearing mascot costumes at any one of a variety of different conventions or events here in Las Vegas.

Sarah Jane Woodall’s day job…dressing as a mascot for a major Las Vegas trade show. Yes, a world famous fetish model is in there somewhere!

Sarah Jane Woodall’s day job…dressing as a mascot for a major Las Vegas trade show. Yes, a world famous fetish model is in there somewhere!

When Sarah is not modeling she’s a writer for CityLife Magazine here in Las Vegas and when she’s not doing that, she’s out on the Strip in one of the coolest showgirl outfits you’ll ever see! Sarah’s skills don’t just end at modeling, she’s also an extremely talented costume designer as well…

Sarah Jane Woodall - Las Vegas Street Performer and Showgirl Extraordinaire!

Sarah Jane Woodall – Las Vegas Street Performer and 420 Showgirl Extraordinaire!

While walking with Sarah one night on the Strip, I got a chance to ask her some questions about what it’s like to now be one of the many street performers in Las Vegas:

How long have you been doing this?

Not long. I just started a few weeks ago and I’m still learning the ropes a bit.

How did you get your start as a Las Vegas Street Performer?

My roommate started doing it and had quite a bit of success so he asked if I’d like to tag along one night and try it for myself. I certainly have no shortage of costumes so I figured I’d give it a shot. The worst case scenario is I’d go out on the Strip and act goofy for a night and have some fun. The best case scenario is I go out on the Strip, act goofy for a night, have some fun, and make some money, so here I am!

Street Performer with a tourist

Since you brought it up, do you mind answering how much money do you actually make doing this?

There is a lot of debate about how much the different performers out here earn. Usually most people out here will tell the general public they earn a bit more than they really do but most of the good ones will earn about $20/hour, give or take. That’s about what I earn too, on average.

A few single dollar bills in her costume tends to drop the hint that she works for tips.

A few single dollar bills in her costume tends to drop the hint that she works for tips.

So, define what are “The good ones”.

You can walk around and kind of tell for yourself. Some of the characters out here make sense. I can see why people would want to take photos next to a cute showgirl with a giant joint (wink, wink) here in Vegas, and there are a lot of great showgirls and Elvis’ out here too. I’m not so sure about the Disney characters though…they seem a bit out of place for Las Vegas so I wonder how many people really want to have their photos taken with them. Yet some of the characters are very openly friendly, do a little hustling but aren’t overly aggressive, and they seem to do well, as they should. The wandering bunch of Sesame Street Characters are great, and some of the costumes, while not very “Vegas-y” really are cool. Some of the Avengers characters look awesome! But you have to ham it up a little. Just standing around doing nothing will not make you any money regardless of how great your costume is. You have to be a personality out here and, well, that’s where I tend to excel.

The pot-smoking showgirl hangs out with Ernie, Bert, Elmo, and the Cookie Monster. This Sesame Street posse can be seen frequently walking together on Las Vegas Blvd. Because of their fun nature, they tend to have lots of picture requests.

The pot-smoking showgirl hangs out with Ernie, Bert, Elmo, and the Cookie Monster. This Sesame Street posse can be seen frequently walking together on Las Vegas Blvd. Because of their fun nature, they tend to have lots of picture requests.

Here, Woody stands alone, never approaches tourists, and looks a bit out of place for Sin City. I stood at this location for 10 minutes and never watched one person approach him.

Here, Woody stands alone, never approaches tourists, and looks a bit out of place for Sin City. I stood at this location for 10 minutes and never watched one person approach him. Here is proof that a good costume does not make for a successful street performer in Las Vegas.

Here, this street performer in a Transformers Bumble Bee costume looks amazing and is in a prime location near the Planet Hollywood/Bellagio crosswalk but he just stands there hoping to get work. Thousands of people will walk by him in any given hour but it's rare that I've seen anyone give him a second glance.

Here, this street performer in a Transformers Bumble Bee costume looks amazing and is in a prime location near the Planet Hollywood/Bellagio crosswalk but he just stands there hoping to get work. Thousands of people will walk by him in any given hour but it’s rare that I’ve seen anyone give him a second glance.

So is this really “work” for you then?

Absolutely, but I also have a lot of fun doing it too. I wouldn’t come out here on a night that I didn’t think I’d have a good time doing it. As soon as I burn out a bit, I just stop coming. I’m certainly not desperate for money but the money I make out here does help this starving artist out a bit, that’s for sure. So even in high-heels and a showgirl headpiece I still have a blast. I like to find an area to hang out that has music playing so I can dance a bit and have some fun. I think that’s why I do well, because I look like I’m a fun chick to hang out with and people want to have their photos taken with someone like that…wearing a showgirl outfit and a holding a huge reefer in public! Don’t be confused though, this is still work. I still have to be outgoing, deal with everyone from families to drunks and be outgoing to a point where people want to pay to have their photo taken with me and I have to do it on a street in stripper shoes. Physically, that gets a bit tiring after a while even if you are in really good shape.

What would a trip be to Las Vegas without getting a picture with a marijuana showgirl?

What would a trip be to Las Vegas without getting a picture with a marijuana showgirl?

This woman actually threw a crumpled $1 at Sarah so she could snap a photo from her car!

This woman actually threw a crumpled $1 at Sarah so she could snap a photo from her car!

Even getting your picture taken draws looks from others!

Even getting your picture taken draws looks from others!

 

Speaking of drunks, do you have to deal with many of them? How do you handle them?

I’m more comfortable with my body than most of the women out here. I think my background in nude modeling certainly helps with that. The later the evening goes, the more alcohol people have consumed so in the later hours of the night you tend to interact with more drunks. They are kind of like the zombies who come out after dark. It’s really quite funny. Some of them certainly can be a bit grabbier than others but I usually get tipped better by those guys so I guess it evens itself out. Some of the girls out here are a bit more prudish, and that’s fine. I’m used to dealing with drunken obnoxious guys though so I’m more in my element with them than most.

Here a drunken tourist wants a bit more for his dollar than just a photo.

Here a drunken tourist wants a bit more for his dollar than just a photo.

Walking down the Strip with Sarah for just one hour allowed me to witness, first-hand, everything we just finished talking about. I saw people in cars cruising the Strip shout at her to get her photo. I saw drunk guys get very touchy-feely on her a few times including one of the guys who hand out the porn cards for “escorts” on the strip. He actually tipped her $5 twice so he can…..uh, pose with her, and I even saw her pose with small children as well. An evening with Sarah yields a level of entertainment parallel to any Cirque show, that’s for sure.

Here, one of the "escort" card distributors on the Strip gets a little grabby with Sarah. At least he was a good tipper though!

Here, one of the “escort” card distributors on the Strip gets a little grabby with Sarah. At least he was a good tipper though!

The one thing about Sarah is that she knows she’s in mixed company as she is not the only showgirl walking on the Las Vegas Strip. I recently had the pleasure of doing a shoot with a more “conventional” showgirl/street performer, Kalliann Haas. Like many of the Las Vegas street performers, Kalliann has a more conservative job by day and at night, she transforms into a stunningly beautiful showgirl. Unlike Sarah Jane, who made her costume, Kalliann actually leases hers as I discovered in a conversation with her:

Your costume is absolutely amazing. Easily it’s comparable to one of the actual showgirl outfits in one of the major shows in town. Did  you make this yourself?

I wish I could take credit for it but no, it’s actually not mine. A costume like this would have cost a fortune to have made and it requires maintenance too. I actually pay a small fee to the costume designer who made it for me to use every night. At the end of the week, I drop off the costume to her so I can have it cleaned and touched up for me to use the next weekend. I’m happy to do it though as it’s really worth it to be able to wear such a beautiful outfit all the time.

Vegas Showgirl / Street Performer Kalliann Haas shows off her amazing costume at the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.

Vegas Showgirl / Street Performer Kalliann Haas shows off her amazing costume at the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign.

The other major hang-out for street performers in Las Vegas is downtown on Fremont Street. Downtown does tend to be a magnet for more of a motley crew of people, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t mean that the quality of the street performers is any lower or dodgy in quality. Last night I ran into these guys performing on the east side of Fremont Street. I can assure you, in all my years of living in Las Vegas, I have heard much worse than these two in major casinos around town. As a two man act these guys had an amazing sound that my Samsung Galaxy S3 does not do justice. They got a fiver from me!

Some of the street performers do more than stand for photos. Some are musicians, jugglers, magicians, and this guy who makes very cool balloon animals and characters.

Some of the street performers do more than stand for photos. Some are musicians, jugglers, magicians, and this guy who makes very cool balloon animals and objects.

Because of the sheer volume of people around the performers on Fremont Street, they have had to get a little more aggressive in their requests for tips. I think the reason isn’t because they are rude, it’s because so many people want to have their photos taken with these folks for free. Now, of course, standing on a street in a costume means you are in a public place and anyone has the legal right to photograph you for free and without your permission. That’s part of the Fair Usage laws of photography. But I think it goes without saying that if you are going to employ someone’s time, talent, and services for your own photo, a $1 contribution (or more) for their effort is not asking for much. For some of these people, it’s not about just slapping on a wig and walking around, they actually put a considerable amount of time and energy into their costumes and makeup. “Before I walk out the door to come out here I spend almost an hour just getting my makeup perfect and my costume, it’s 100% authentic to the original…that’s not cheap” says a Gene Simmons look-alike. “People think it’s easy to come out here and do what we do but I can assure you, it’s not. Many of us put a lot of work into coming out here and this really is a type of performance doing what we do. None of us really just stand there for a picture, we really get into character. That’s what makes this a bit of fun but it’s also why people like to pose with us. Deep down, we are all entertainers out here!”

A Gene Simmons lookalike struck a great pose for me. His costume and makeup were really well done!

A Gene Simmons lookalike struck a great pose for me. His costume and makeup were really well done!

There have been several drummers for Kiss over the years from Peter Criss to Eric Singer. This street performer looks like he ate all of them! Still though, he's found his niche and looks great doing it!

There have been several drummers for Kiss over the years from Peter Criss to Eric Singer. This street performer looks like he ate all of them! Still though, he’s found his niche and looks great doing it!

As I was attempting to get some photos of a contortionist group performing, I was approached by a very pleasant Marilyn Monroe lookalike. The thing I loved about her was she didn’t just have a great look, but she had an ANGLE! “If you want to get a great photo with me, I can take you over to a spot by that casino entrance over there that has a huge air vent. The air blows my skirt up and it makes for an awesome Marilyn Monroe photo!” I was sold and I was happy to give her my last $4 in singles…that kind of thought and fun attitude just deserved more than a single dollar bill.

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Seana (AKA Marilyn Monroe)

I managed to have a brief conversation with Seana (AKA Marilyn Monroe) that was quite educational as to her line of work. I told her that I really liked her pleasant approach, which was very refreshing to see as opposed to some of the performers who sometimes just stand around waiting for people to approach them. “I figured out an angle that works well for me. I used to come out here as a playboy bunny but I didn’t like the kind of people I was attracting so I switched gears and today, I’m Marilyn!” Seana is a waitress in a famous restaurant in Las Vegas by day, and to earn a few extra bucks, she comes out as a Street Performer a few nights a week. I had a very interesting and brief conversation with her while walking up the Fremont Street Experience. Twice, we were interrupted by people wanting to take photos of her which was great!

Do you find this kind of work more or less difficult than your “day job”

It’s not really easier or harder, it’s just different. Sometimes the nights are a lot of fun, sometimes it’s hard work, especially when you have a bad night where everyone wants to take their photo with you but nobody wants to tip you. That can be a bit frustrating, but I never take it out on anyone and I’m always polite and I think that helps in the long run.

Who are the people out here who annoy you the most?

Sometimes the drunks who like to grab you too much but as “Marilyn”, I don’t run into that as much as I used to. The people who annoy me the most though are what us street performers call “Snipers”. Those are the people who sneak up behind you to grab a quick photo and run away. They think we don’t notice, but we all do. That’s kind of pathetic, but so be it. Generally speaking though, most people are nice and respectful and while this can be a bit tiring from time to time, overall it’s fun and I make a few extra bucks so I can’t complain.

As a Vegas native myself, I used to have mixed feelings about the street performers in Las Vegas. Sometimes I found them fun but I used to find them more annoying than anything else. Sarah’s perspective changed all of that for me though. “You keep forgetting Adam, we live in the craziest city in the world. We shouldn’t shoo these people away, we should celebrate the fact that they are here because they add flavor and fun to the city! The crazier the city becomes, the more fun it gets and that’s what brings the tourists here!” She has a point…a very good one in fact. While the media is quick to jump on these folks when someone gets a little out-of-hand, we have to remember the media motto, “If it bleeds, it leads.” So for every negative story about the street performers there are a million fun ones of tourists who enjoy their presence and I’m the first to admit that much of my past negative opinion on the street performers was based on what I read, not what I experienced. As a capitalistic society we have to remember that if people weren’t tipping these folks, their industry would have dried up a long time ago. They are here, because people want them here. Say whatever you want about the street performers in Las Vegas, but love them or hate them, they are here to stay. In time more regulations will probably be passed requiring them to have permits and such, and that’s fine. The serious ones will continue to come out and the weaker performers will fall by the waste side. Whatever the outcome is, you have to admit that having your photo taken with a dancing guy in a bikini, a 400 pound drummer for Kiss, a gaggle of super heroes, or even a pot-smoking showgirl is just plain fun!

Sarah finishes her long night as a Las Vegas showgirl and street performer. Now it's time to kick off the heels and count the singles.

Sarah finishes her long night as a Las Vegas showgirl and street performer. Now it’s time to kick off the heels and count the singles.

Special thanks to Sarah Jane Woodall for her contributions to this blog both in photos and editorial contributions. If you are ever looking to hire Sarah for any corporate event, she should be at the top of your list as her costumes and level of professionalism and entertainment value are second to none! Please be sure to read her blog at wonderhussy.com and for booking information email her direct at wonderhussy@gmail.com

*Please note that no Minnie Mouses, Pokemon, or Smurfs were hurt in the photography or writing of this blog. They were, however, all tipped at least $1 for their contributions.

If you are coming to Las Vegas and are interested in getting some amazing photos to remember your trip, I specialize in shooting on the Strip for bachelorette parties, engagement photos, family photos, girls and guys night out, and more! When you want to book a shoot please email me at adam@shotbyadam.com or call today to reserve a time to make some memories that will last a lifetime!

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