Token Skies the Vegas timewarp

There are places I’ve always wanted to visit. Las Vegas is not one of them. Sadly, many conference organizers seem to think it’s a great place for people to gather, and tens of thousands of events take place in Vegas each year. My co-founder Ricardo and I went for a publishing event, before taking a week off and traveling East to the canyons (yes, blog posts incoming).

Vegas is what this world would look like had it been designed by people like Donald Trump. A place for false hopes. A place trying to make you lose sense of time so you can sink into addiction without anyone to wake you up. A highway to a scam paradise.

It’s funny how the ugliest things in the world can be covered by pretty names: Bally’s, The Venetian, The Flamingo, The Mirage, Paris, Caesar. All those casino-hotels whose sole objective is to get people to gamble. And more specifically, a middle or lower-middle class that doesn’t have the means to do so.

So photographing Vegas was incredibly hard. Not technically, but psychologically. How can you be creative when you know everyone is being fooled? And if people aren’t being fooled, why will they happily join such a party?

What follows is some of the most expression-less images I’ve ever taken. You cannot give soul to fraud. But maybe it’s that blatant inauthenticity that makes them feel, in a way, authentic.

Some of the most iconic European monuments have been reproduced in Vegas. It’s sad to think that some might head back home thinking they’ve seen Europe.

There’s a whole operation taking place under the hood in Vegas. Early in the morning, trash from partiers is swiped off the streets, and sidewalks are sprayed with water to remove the smell of a city that clearly shouldn’t exist in the middle of a desert. From my research, hotels and casinos in Southern Nevada directly about 160,000 people — I won’t try to imagine what else such workforce could be used for.

Ricardo did make a generous donation that night. Luckily, a much better adventure was coming.

Until next time! 👋


Emmanuel Nataf

I'm a founder at Reedsy ( and a street photographer in my spare time.


  • I’d definitely say you captured the “emptiness” well… the “Aria” lady caught my eye. She points to a mirage or fantasy of Vegas, but right underneath, there is only the empty street and cars…nothing.

    • True — unashamedly promoting the most artificial experiences.

      • Can’t say I’m always immune. But this photo essay was useful for artistically lifting the veil. 🙂

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