Las Vegas Graffiti for Photographers

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There is so much more to Las Vegas other than the bright lights, glamorous hotels and casinos, nightlife and nature. As with any major city, you see your fare share of graffiti throughout the city and while some of it is just gang taggings, some of it is really quite artistic. Our mayor, Oscar Goodman, has a unique policy regarding gang taggers and this is to cut off their thumbs. His theory is that you can't hold a can of spray paint without thumbs. That theory aside, there is an older, industrial area of Las Vegas that has been transformed into a new "Art District". In the area of E. Charleston and Main St., you can visit incredible art galleries, vintage clothing stores such as The Attic, antique stores, and so much more. If you haven't had a chance to spend an afternoon walking through this area of Las Vegas, you're really missing out.


In this spirit of art, many of the city's top graffiti artists have arrived and began creating their unique form of artwork on some of the surrounding warehouses and abandoned buildings. The owners of these properties, rather than take it down, have decided to leave the artwork up which makes for an incredible opportunity for anyone interested in using these places for some wonderful photographic backdrops.







So a few quick tips about shooting in these areas before you grab your camera, pick a model to shoot, and start driving. First, you need to realize you are going to an industrial area. During the weekdays, these areas can be teeming with people who might not find your photographic adventures quite as interesting as you do. The best day of the week to visit these areas is Sunday and you need to be aware that most of your shots will be facing north or south. This means that shadows can be really quite harsh as the sun moves across the sky so you need to be aware of this. Be prepared to bring a good flash for your camera to provide a fill of light to help compensate for this issue. 


Also, you need to be aware that while some of these areas can be seen from the street, some are more buried within the industrial complexes. Because some of these buildings are abandoned and others have been demolished, the ground is covered in pieces of sheet metal, rusty nails, and all sorts of other hazardous items so if you are planning to go walking in flip-flops, I would highly advise against. If there is anything I've learned over the years of being a professional photographer is that trips to the hospital is a real bad way to end a photo shoot. In addition, while I have never personally run into any problems with them, occasionally you might see some homeless people in the area so just beware.



So, based on all of this, I wanted to provide a really great starting point to get some great shots. Whether you are a tourist coming to Las Vegas and want some fun shots of something more "urban" or you are a professional or amateur photographer looking for a unique setting in which to shoot, here are some great hot spots. I'll point out their locations on the maps followed by some photos so you can see what the areas look like. The general part of Las Vegas I will be focusing on is the intersection of East Charleson and Main Street. This is a general connecting point between the southern part of Las Vegas and Downtown. The first location I want to show is the intersection of Main St. and Hoover Ave. There are many bail bond companies in this area one in particular has some awesome artistic graffiti!













You can see from the above photos that there is a LOT of color and wide open spaces to shoot. Due to the proximity of the buildings behind you though, shooting with a large telephoto lens is not going to give you enough open space to get the distance you need. The above was shot with my Nikon D700 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.




About a mile away is where you will simply be amazed at the amount of variety of amazing artistic graffiti work. Off to 1st Street between Boulder Ave. and and Coolidge Ave.







Right on Boulder Ave., between 1st St. and Casino Center, you will see some parking areas for The Arts Factory. This is where you want to park and start walking around. The warehouse buildings to your north will be the bulk of your canvas. There are so many amazing backdrops to shoot against with a huge amount of color and variety. The first example below will show you a great example as to the results you can get when you use these backdrops creatively…










Thanks to the awesome model, Ronnica Rabold, for posing for this very cool shot! So as we wander around these buildings on the north side of Boulder Ave., you'll start to see some really fantastic artwork. I shot these during the worst time of the day for this area which was right as the sun was setting so, again, prepare for proper lighting if needed. I suggest a slightly overcast day and plan on shooting in the morning if possible…





































As you wander around the building on to 1st Street, you will want to look behind you and you can see some great painting work on the buildings across the street…










Heading back to where you parked, you'll see some great "darker" images…













Turn around 180 degrees and cross Boulder Ave. In some of the parking lots for The Arts Factory…










The more you wander around the above areas, the more you will be blown away by how amazing some of this artwork looks. There's a lot of hidden gems in this area for sure, and I can tell you from experience that sometimes the street artists change their designs from time to time. So what you see above may be slightly different when you visit this area. The next stop is about 1/2 a mile south…







The Winfield Manor is a rather old, delapidated motel that is a bit off the radar. On the north and east sides of the building are some awesome artistic pieces…




















So have fun, be safe, do some exploring, and you'll be sure to have an awesome day of scouting locations and getting some awesome photos of another side of Las Vegas not often talked about. Of course if you are a model or a group and want to get some awesome photos of some of these hot spots, be sure to pick up the phone and give me a call at 702-204-1740 or email me at















5 comments on “Las Vegas Graffiti for Photographers”

  1. Blanche says:

    Hey thanks for the great advice!! Was really helpful. I needed locations for some photo shoots I’m doing. Just Amature stuff. Anyways you rock !

  2. Linda says:

    this is great…lived her most of my life and had no idea this ART was even around Vegas. Thanx for sharing and being very informative.

  3. Sandy says:

    Thanks for the helpful advice. I came from out of town and this was a great place to shoot on a Sunday afternoon. We even met the artist of the blue sunflower and wave wall (the first stop on your grafitti tour) during our shoot. Thanks for sharing your locations. My trip would not have been as good without your help.

  4. Carl says:

    Thanks for all the great information you have provided. looking forward to doing some exploring.


  5. Nicole says:

    Thanks! I had a blast exploring!

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