Brightening Up Your Shots: A Guide to Using Neon Signs in Photography

In a world where photography is accessible to all and content is shared in an instant, finding ways to stand out from the crowd is a key part of modern photography. One key aspect of photography is often overlooked by amateurs, the use of light. Lighting can dramatically alter the mood and feel of a photo. One way to create a unique aesthetic is through the use of neon signs. Their vibrant glow is a wonderful tool for creating photo opportunities that will break through the noise.

The Visual Impact of Neon

Neon signs can offer some brilliant new perspectives for your photography. The vibrancy they create offers impactful lighting that works well when trying to create a certain feel. They can create dramatic night scenes, give that on-trend smack of color to portrait or product photography, or give a retro appeal that is more popular now than ever. This retro photography phenomenon has even been seen in hardware, with a 338% surge in disposable camera sales. Neon is not subtle, it will help your images pop and give an immediate impact.

How to Shoot Using Neon

Using neon signs in your photography creates some challenges. Some things to consider are:

  • Exposure - Neon signs can be very bright. Getting the exposure balance right is important to get an evenly lit image.

  • White balance - The hues generated can be quite intense from a neon sign. Play around with the white balance to get the right feel, especially if you have other light sources.

  • Tripod - One of the most fun ways to shoot neon signs is at night. Low light levels call for longer exposures. Keep that tripod handy to ensure images stay sharp.

  • Angles - Utilizing different angles can produce some interesting results with neon signs. Move around the scene and get a feel for what is on offer for your next shot.

  • Reflections - This one goes for all light sources. Reflections provide a brilliant opportunity to increase visual impact.

Equipment Choices

To make the most of the vibrant light that neon signs produce, having the right kit for the job is essential. You may need:

  1. A fast lens -Low light shooting means you need to take in all the light you can get, so a wide aperture lens is a must.

  2. High ISO - A Camera capable of higher ISOs is another benefit when shooting in low light. This technology helps to reduce noise and keep those images crisp.

  3. Light modifiers - Working with a bright light source can be a challenge, using diffusers and reflectors can help you achieve the look you are after.

A Personal Touch - Customized Neon Signs

One great investment you can make in your photography gear is a custom neon sign. Having the ability to choose the exact color you are after, along with the design, can take your images to the next level and provide that personalized look. Custom neon signs can be excellent for brand photography too. Having a sign with your brand’s name or logo in an image gives legitimacy to the brand and a really unique aesthetic. Designing the sign yourself means that you can manipulate light and color in a way you would never be able to achieve in camera settings alone. It also gives an interesting alternative to the usual lighting equipment used by photographers or found at photography studios.

Unique use cases

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about shooting neon signs may be a busy Tokyo nightscape. However, they can provide a creative backdrop to other photography types such as:

  • Portraits - The intense vibrancy of the color produced can give a futuristic or retro look to portraits.

  • Fashion - Make clothing pop with a dramatic use of color, highlighting textures in a wonderful way with intense lighting.

  • Street - Although this is a well-worn path, there are always new angles and takes on street photography using neon signs.


Incorporating neon signs into your photography provides you with a way to make your photos stand out. The unique lighting they provide gives the perfect backdrop for many types of photography, with custom neon signs offering a brilliant scope for artistic expression. Get the look your after and get shooting neon signs on your next photoshoot.

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