“Even Deserts Bloom” for Blanc Magazine ft. Ulla Johnson

Scott and I spontaneously headed toward the desert hoping to find a little bit of heaven. We drove five hours from our home in Los Angeles (at which point I wondered if we should turn around…but if we were already five hours out, what was one more hour if we found an explosion of beauty?). Soon after, we found our spot! A sigh of relief, we’d found our heaven! However, light quickly fell after our first shot, and we hadn’t calculated lodging into our trip (because we didn’t think we’d drive so far in the first place). We were five hours away from L.A. and had no idea all of the hotels (even motels) and campgrounds would be completely full, despite it being the popular blooming season. So, there we were in the middle of the desert at 8 p.m., with our car, one or two mom-and-pop restaurant options, extremely spotty cell service, and no place to sleep (we didn’t want to drive back because we’d found our place and wanted to be able to photograph there). Luckily, Scott had packed our tent and sleeping bags in our car a few weeks prior. Around 10 p.m., when all stores and signs of life and light were down for the night, we decided our only option was to sleep in our car. The last time I’d slept in my car was five years ago, on a camping trip with friends. I hadn’t brought a sleeping bag or tent then, but stubbornly and foolishly exclaimed to my friends, “No worries at all! I’ll sleep in the car; it’ll be great!” A soft, warm, comfy car, away from bugs and spiders, I thought? Wonderful! Oh, how deeply wrong I was. I quickly learned cars are not comfortable (or warm, in the desert night) whatsoever, and I was reminded of this unpleasant experience as Scott and I finally rested our heads below our Prius’ trunk window. We slept horrifically that night. I have to say though, there was something fun (and sort of romantic?) about spontaneously finding ourselves in a crappy situation, laughing about it, fearing being murdered, sleeping huddled for warmth and comfort, and existing, alone, in desert silence, together, for a moment in time. We woke up at dawn to catch good light, shared a banana and began shooting until one or two in the afternoon. I quickly forgot about my lack of sleep as we shot photos amidst gorgeous, earthly beauty — oddly shaped trees (fit for Dr.Seuss!), bright purple and yellow blooms, a wall of palms (stoic as The Wall in GOT), dusty pink structures, with outfits of intricate and earthy pieces by Ulla Johnson to match.

Almost all photos were shot on film per Scott’s request, which I’m so glad he did, as they are some of my favorite photos. We also made a short film on 8mm! I hope you love this story as much as we do.

“Even Deserts Bloom”

featured on Blanc Magazine


A yellow tractor zoomed past us (not fast like a car, but pretty fast for a tractor!)

(even in unexpected, rough or dark places, there is hope for light and beauty and growth)