Port­fo­lio

HAL LE­VITT HOUSE, 1961, PALM SPRINGS TOM BLACHFORD

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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

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