Walking down Colfax Avenue in Denver, you’re sure to find yourself looking around.

The people. The stores. The old buildings.

You’re also likely to see Mark Stein, looking up.

"My God such a beautiful sign,” he says, while setting his old Polaroid on a tripod.

Mark has been photographing signs in and around Denver for just about 20 years.

“One of the things I remember from my childhood,” recalls the Denver native, “is going down West Colfax and seeing all of these beautiful neon signs.”

Shooting signs has become more than a hobby for Mark. He sees it as his mission to record them.

“Documenting what is our vanishing America. Trying to preserve what we do have, and create art out of it at the same time,” he explains.

Social media has helped Mark’s mission spread. Influenced by fellow photographers such as John Margolies, Mark’s presence on Instagram has allowed people all across the world to see Denver’s signs.

Satire at Dusk . . 🎞️ Polaroid Land Camera 250 w/ Fuji FP-100C

A post shared by Mark (@mark5280pix) on

Wow! 2017 was by far my most epic year in terms of photography! I drove an estimated 4,974 miles in pursuit of my passion. I photographed in 12 states; 6 of which were my first time behind the lens! I have all of you to thank for your "likes" and sharing your kind words throughout the year. . Cheers to 2018! 🥂🎞️📸 . #2017 #bestnine #2017bestnine #bestnine2017 #everything_signage #ig_signage #signcollective #signsunited #signgeeks #denverigers

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His contributions to the Facebook group Save the Signs helps spread his belief that these signs are important to our city’s history.

Mark’s aggressive path to document as many signs as possible has to do with more than just the beautiful signs. He shoots the iconic ones as well. When Mark heard the Sports Authority sign was coming down he grabbed his camera, and snapped away. He wasn’t going trying to capture its beauty. He sees his photos of that sign, “as a way to remember what it looked like,” he says.

In Mark’s eyes, the sign that’s been hanging on the south side of Mile High Stadium since 2011 doesn’t compare to the neon that lines the streets of Colfax.

“If you want my honest take it’s a plastic sign. Backlit with LED and fluorescent. Not anything that I would say is as artistic or handmade as these neon signs.”

Still, Mark shot away. Not for his collection, but for the memory of a gigantic sign that shone bright over Denver for six years.

“Come several years from now,” he says, “it will be a way to remember that moment in time.”