Into the Desert

The wind rocked the truck. Even here, in an alcove of ancient monoliths, it moved fast. We packed up camp. Slammed doors. And drove off.

In the Mojave, you don’t always choose your own plans. And our plans just changed. For 24 hours straight, the wind canvassed the desert. No nook or ridge was spared. Eventually, we succumbed — and after driving, hiking and camping for 36 hours, we left the park to its wild nature.

Brian Vernor is best known for his endurance work — chronicling athletes and personalities in extreme efforts across the world. It’s a delicate art to not exploit the sensationalism of the accomplishment at the cost of the raw humanity present in the subject. He works deftly within that balance.

For this assignment, Vernor tackled a different form of extreme: the desert. The Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park attract millions of visitors annually — and all the cameras, drones and selfies that come with them.

To capture the landscape without the well-worn tropes of tourist photography, Vernor looked to the mysticism of the desert. It’s eeriness. It’s contrasts. It's texture. He skirted sensationalism to find the raw: windblown and jagged, empty but alive.

All photographs by Brian Vernor for West Skincare. Gallery at top.

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