Before we did that Mesquite Sand Dunes photoshoot session, we did one at Badwater Basin the day before. This is the story. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
The Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, with elevation of 282 feet below sea level. The salt flats is one of the most popular destinations in Death Valley National Park, with tourists pouring in constantly day and night. That was a challenge for me, as this was the first location of our DIY editorial-style photoshoot session and I was really nervous. But I’m 100% sure my nervousness was miniscule compared to a Badwater Ultramarathon‘s first-time racer, though. For more context about why I did this in the first place, please read the first couple of paragraphs of Mesquite Sand Dunes photoshoot post :)
We were exploring the southeast side of Death Valley, having just entered the vast national park a few hours prior. We reached Badwater Basin around 1:30pm. It was crowded, but thankfully we got a parking spot. Doing my makeup in the car was one thing, but the it was another challenge entirely to change my clothes inside the car. I certainly did not want to flash anybody, regardless whether they welcomed it or not. Not only that, I had to change my top twice because I was rethinking my concept. And because I was nervous, of course. Thanks to the hot and humid weather in addition to the constraint of car interior air flow, it was quite a sweaty half hour.
I finally settled with this vintage 1950s JC Penney black bustier I bought at The Vintage Net, and billowy seersucker chalk-striped pants I bought at Dog Harajuku, Tokyo. Gathering my wits, I got out from the car with my hiking boots and electric purple wind breaker. The Badwater Basin was in plain sight, but walking to a good location from the parking lot took us about 20 – 30 minutes walk. But it felt so much longer.
No shade, hot sun, hot surface. Chris and I were complete at the mercy of occasional floating clouds, our hats, and our windbreakers for any form of heat relief. I’m sure we internally cursed several times for not bringing enough water to rehydrate, but we kept our mouths shut and continued walking further away from the parking lot.
Once Chris determined we went far enough, and there was (relatively) no tourists in sight to photobomb our background setting, we began. I zipped open my windbreaker to reveal my bustier, kept my hiking boots on, and I just went for it. Nervously at first, because there were quite a few tourists close by. Naturally, some of them began to wonder what we were doing. By the way, I had my eye makeup done in the car, but I kept my sunglasses on because the sun was too harsh.
A couple of minutes in, it was surprisingly easy to ignore all the noises. Some thick clouds were suddenly above us, providing perfect outdoor lighting and VERY cozy temperature. For several minutes, I was in bliss. I was 100% certain that I was at the right place and at the right time, doing exactly what I wanted to do. Even wearing the hiking boots, which I initially thought was a mistake, tied really nicely with the whole editorial / outdoor atmosphere. It was an eerily reassuring feeling. Relaxed, confident, humbled, joyful, thankful all rolled into one elated sense of being.
And then the sun came back out to remind us all about why Death Valley was so notoriously hot. We knew we had to finish quickly, go back to our car, and rehydrate. So after a few more shots, I put on my windbreaker, and Chris hastily did this photo of us with his tripod and iPhone.
Few seconds after that last photo was taken, we started walking slowly towards our car. Oh boy, it was hot. By the time we arrived, my back was so slick with sweat as if I just took a shower by crossing the bridge in front of Wapama Falls at Hetch Hetchy, Yosemite National Park. It was just…WOW.
Regardless, I was elated. I at least know those few minutes of absolute certainty was priceless. I’d treasure those rare moments because they don’t come up too often in one’s lifetime. Together with the session we had at Mesquite San Dunes, doing these Death Valley National Park DIY editorial-style photoshoots was the right decision to celebrate my birthday weekend. As always, special thanks to Chris for celebrating it with me :)
Thanks for reading; until next time,
Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Style notes: 1950s JC Penney black bustier from The Vintage Net, seersucker pants from Dog Harajuku Tokyo. Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses. Vasque hiking boots.