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 had an opportunity to visit 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 sign for a check cashing service I stumbled upon in Worcester. A few have been refurbished -- the neon replaced with LED, others are rusting away, and some have been replaced or torn down.
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.