An architect based in Boston by day, Andrew Thomas Shea is a photography hobbyist at night and his latest project, Neon New England, celebrates a beloved common fixture across the Northeastern United States, and that is vintage neon signs.
Advertising everything from roadside motels and popular brands to inviting diners and bowling alleys, it was a phenomenon that ran for more than three decades in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island – with many still standing today and offering a nostalgic, comforting reminder of seemingly happier times.
But many of these signs are at risk of being taken down. Andrew has spent the last two years photographing the relics, documenting them before they disappear forever. "I want to capture the beauty and soft colours of these handmade artefacts of the American landscape," he tells Creative Boom. "As I've been photographing these signs, I've decided to pull the camera back a bit from the detail shots I typically capture to expose in the frame the surrounding context where these items reside. Many of these places are landmarks within their urban fabrics yet many are not, always threatened with removal due to the passage of time."
Andrew has been working as an architect in Boston for the past three years. Photography is his hobby, as is exploring the city and surrounding countryside. "I've always explored photography as a tool to see a different side of the urban environment, elements which most do not register or pay attention to in their daily life. I'm interested in the quality of light and space, the texture and reflections of which it plays off of and how signage and light become waymarkers within the city," he adds.