Tom Blachford has been to Palm Springs seven times, always with his camera in tow. The young Melbourne photographer has a deep fascination with the place, from the modernist architecture to the towering palm trees and cinematic desert backdrop. The result of Tom’s most recent trip is a new collection of photographs, the third installment in his Midnight Modern series.
Having already gathered a cult following for his distinctive photographs captured by moonlight, this time around, Tom was keen to push himself one step further. For this series, he aimed to create images which entirely re-create a time between 1957-1965 – an ambitious undertaking that had Tom door knocking to secure his dream locations, and sourcing original cars from the period.
‘I wanted the images to seem like that they were captured during this time. I don’t think anything you see in the shots gives away that these were taken in 2015 and 2016,’ explains Tom. ‘I love that about this series, because I really see it as a portal in time.’
Tom made a conscious effort to focus closely on the aesthetics in this body of work, and was heavily influenced by a ‘film noir’ moodiness. ‘I decided to freeze the stars in the sky instead of using star-trails,’ he explains. ‘I even went as far as to wet the road to create ambience!’
Extensive planning went in to photographing each of the residential portraits in this series. Once granted permission to shoot each home, Tom undertook an intensive shoot schedule, considering the moon’s movements for the evening and the orientation of each home. ‘I’d shoot the east-facing homes in the early evening, and south-facing homes around midnight. For west-facing homes, I’d shoot as late as I could possibly stand to be up – usually around 5am. Many of the shoots take places between the hours of 4.30am and 5.30am.’
While all of the homes featured in this Palm Springs time capsule are special to Tom, there is one in particular that boasts top spot – the iconic home of Frank Sinatra. Known for its architectural significance and the many celebrity parties it hosted during the golden years, Tom went to all kinds of lengths to document it, until he was finally granted permission. He capped off this trip by shooting Sinatra’s home on a 44º celsius morning at 4.30am, under the moon, of course. We think Frank would have approved.
Midnight Modern Series III by Tom Blachford
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