Oasis in Focus

A photographer captures her impressions of the desert for a newly released monograph

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When Los Angeles–based photographer Nancy Baron landed in Palm Springs many years ago from her hometown of Chicago, she found a glimpse of paradise. In 2006, she made the iconic resort town her second home. In her monograph, The Good Life: Palm Springs — published by Kehrer Verlag — Baron captures the visually rich world to which she finds herself continuously drawn. Baron sees Palm Springs as an endless opportunity for discovery.

“When Palm Springs became my second home, I began to see this iconic resort town in a completely different way than I previously had seen it as a tourist — literally from a new angle; the angle of a resident,” she says.

“In general, my photography documents the exotic world next door that is sometimes misunderstood or overlooked. I felt compelled to share my impressions of the rich world that I was — and still am — discovering only steps away from the resorts and main drag of Palm Springs.”

The story Baron wanted to tell with her book is that Palm Springs is not just a resort getaway but also a small American town with big-city sophistication. “It’s a town rooted at once in the past and the present while looking toward the future, with something for everyone,” she says. “Here, in this desert setting — under clear blue skies in a glorious climate — is the American dream.”  

Baron believes that whether living in a trailer or a midcentury modern masterpiece, anyone can find their way to the “good life” here, that the desert canvas creates an environment that sparks inspiration. “The surrounding mountains prevent clouds and pollution from fading the valley sky, making for the richly saturated colors seen in clothing, cars, and interior home design — an aesthetic that is visually exotic yet relaxed and accessible, whether vintage or contemporary.”

For Baron, it’s the incongruities and variety of Palm Springs that intrigue her artistic eye, “from atomic to Zen.” Here, we share a look at her work and what inspired each piece.

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