At first glance, the home above may seem awash in sunlight. Look closer, though, and it’s actually been photographed in the dead of night, lit only by the moon.
During the zenith of the modernist wave, Palm Springs became a haven for hedonists escaping the hubbub of Hollywood. The flood of pleasure seekers brought with it the architectural style familiar to many up and down the West Coast. Today, Palm Springs still has a reputation for indulgence and modernism. Honoring both, Australian photographer Tom Blachford photographed the iconic homes in the city’s moonlight.
For those unfamiliar with the fine art of photography, taking a well-exposed photo at night is difficult for the obvious reason that there is no natural light (i.e. sunlight). By photographing the homes after dark, Blachford captures a more “polished” version of them—the moonlight and shadows washing away imperfections and the scars of time, freezing these homes in time 50 years ago.
Inspired by the works of documentary and lifestyle photographers Slim Aarons and Julius Shulman, Blachford adds a touch of mystery to the idyllic Palm Springs setting. His cinematic style invites the viewer into the image, bestowing the voyeuristic feel of a trespasser. “I have always wanted to create tension in the scenes as if they were still frames from a movie where the action is about [to] start or has just ended—heavy silence and anticipation of what is coming next,” the photographer told Wallpaper.
Blachford also had seemingly unfettered access to some of the most coveted homes in the Palm Springs community. These include the Kaufmann Desert House, Edris House, Frey House II, Frank Sinatra Twin Palms House, and numerous of other historic homes in the valley. See more of his work below.
Created over three years, Blachford’s haunting Palm Springs photographs are now available in a book published by powerHouse Books. Midnight Modern: Palm Springs Under the Full Moon costs $65 and is available for purchase here.