HAL LEVITT HOUSE, 1961, PALM SPRINGS TOM BLACHFORD
Palm Springs is two hours away from Los Angeles by car and maybe 50 years in appearance. It’s a place that has “an uncanny quality of feeling”, Australian photographer Tom Blachford writes in the afterword of his new book Midnight Modern, “as if it exists outside of time itself”.
Maybe it does. Back in the 1920s and 30s it became a bolthole for Hollywood stars chafing under the restrictions of the studio system. After the war it was home to the world’s biggest stars. Sinatra, Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean all moved to Palm Springs and into the new-style homes built in the latest modernist style. But by the 1970s the carnival had moved on and the place stood still. Blachford’s images catch the town’s “caught in time” feel. The decision to shoot at night was an attempt to avoid the tourists who wander around during the day taking photos.
“The camera captured something just beyond human perception,” Blachford writes, “a different world. The stars dashed across the sky and the shadows were hard but eerily softened by the slight movement of the moon. I was hooked, and Midnight Modern was born.”
Midnight Modern by Tom Blachford is published by Powerhouse Books, priced £55