When I picked up a digital camera for the first time back in 2008, I had no idea where my life was about to take me, that I would soon leave Los Angeles, where I was born and raised, for the desert and that the desert in turn would lead me to Idyllwild, a tiny village in the mountains near Palm Springs.
Photography, specifically the self-imposed discipline of the daily photoblog I launched around that time, would turn out to be my saving grace during an otherwise difficult time. I began exploring my new surroundings through the lens of a secondhand DSLR and, in the process, developed a deep appreciation for the subtle beauty of the desert as well as an intense fascination with its abandoned and most desolate places.
Nine years later, my images are more abstract and experimental in nature and I'm just as likely to shoot with a vintage film camera as a digital one. Even so, it’s my contemplative and largely-solitary experience in the desert, as well as the relationship between beauty and blight that I first explored there, that continue to inspire and inform the majority of my images.
- Caryn Gilbert