About Red Nickel Neon

Red Nickel Photo

It all started with a photograph.

I'm Susan Mara Bregman, a Boston-based photographer. 

Like many of my counterparts, I started off in the black-and-white darkroom. When I decided to experiment with color, I made my first pilgrimage to Las Vegas. One of my first photos – and still a favorite – was an image I took inside a casino. The background was a rich red and the photo focused on a bank of nickel slot machines. I called that photo “Red Nickel,” and eventually used that name for my photography business.

But something else happened in Vegas. I visited the Neon Museum in its early days, when it was not much more than a fenced-in parking lot with a haphazard collection of deteriorating neon signs.  And I fell in love.

Fast forward a few years and a lot of photographs later. As Red Nickel Neon, I'm now on a mission to document the landscape of neon and electric commercial signs in Massachusetts. Some are classics, like Boston's CITGO sign.  Some are obscure, like a fading sign for a check cashing service I stumbled across in Worcester.  A few have been refurbished, others are rusting away, and some have been consigned to the dump. 

I have a soft spot for the banged-up signs with their peeling paint and broken tubes, but it's hard to resist the exuberance of a restored sign like the Paramount Theater in downtown Boston.    

My photos show it all.