Chris and I went on a road trip and did several photoshoot sessions at Death Valley National Park! This one done at Mesquite Sand Dunes was my favorite. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.

I chose not to do my usual “April Note” posts this year. Instead, Chris and I did a 4-day road trip around Sierra Nevada with Death Valley National Park as our main destination. This was our first ever visit to the notoriously hot and extremely vast California national park.

Since it was my birthday weekend, I wanted to try something we never did while traveling: DIY editorial-style photoshoot. Chris brought his camera and I brought some outfits for the shoot! After studying the prospective settings and my wardrobe, I packed several garments and makeup choices (mainly black eyeliner and lipsticks) in addition to my hiking / outdoor outfits.

During that weekend, we got to do a couple of great photoshoot sessions. Looking back, I’m so glad we did it – I really like the results. That’s why I’d like to share with you all, perhaps the fashionista in you would be inspired to do something similar next time you travel :)

The first one I’d like to share with you was my favorite session, done at Mesquite Sand Dunes. It was very special and memorable, especially knowing that the whole thing almost did not happen at all. I’d treasure this memory forever; let me tell you what happened.
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We Almost Didn’t Do It

The night before, we were set to stay the night at the Stovepipe Wells Camping Ground after finished exploring the southeast side of Death Valley. It was supposed to be a warm night with a small chance of rain. What we actually got was a fierce thunderstorm that blew fine grain sand into our tent, and we were eventually forced to spend the night in the car. Heavy rainfall and brilliant strokes of lighting raged on through the night, and we ended up with very little sleep.

When morning came, we were so exhausted. I almost suggested to leave early and continue our journey to our next destination, 6 hours away.

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Calm after a stormy night at Stovepipe Wells Camping Ground

Thankfully, my senses came back after breakfast. This was a rare opportunity and everything was ready – garments, makup, camera, Chris, and myself. We just had to do it. So we did. And how glad I was (and still am) that we went throught with that decision.

Photoshoot Session at Mesquite Sand Dunes

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The outfit pieces worked as if they were meant to be styled together all along, and Mesquite Sand Dunes was simply breath-taking that morning. My outfit consisted of a vintage Chanel bustier bought at Vintage Fashion Expo earlier this year (thank you Josephine of purplemaroon for convincing me to get this beautiful piece!), a second-hand flower kimono bought at Koenji, Japan, and a custom-made, high-waisted, tuxedo-striped fringe-hemmed pants by Art Institute of California San Francisco 2015 Fashion Design graduate Jesus Romero.

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Our planned 10 – 15 minute shoot became an hour session of fantastic playtime with strong wind, soft sand, and warm sun. Honestly, I was frazzled and hesitant at first, thanks to lack of sleep and dull body aches…the kind of ache that sleeping upright on the passenger seat can bring. Not as bad as 12-hour flight on an economy seat, though. Anyway. I also felt awkward emerging from the car in this outfit, complete with makeup and my hair down. I’m sure I stuck out like sore thumb in the parking lot filled with morning tourist crowd dressed in summer hiking gears. But as we moved further and further away from the parking lot and fellow tourists, I started to calm down and enjoy myself.

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Eventually, Chris felt good about our spot – divine setting, no tourists on sight. Awesome. So I took off my hiking boots and started walking barefoot on those oh-so-soft sand bed. The feeling was nothing less than heavenly. Walking up and down those hills at Mesquite Sand Dunes, trying my best to maneuver the strong wind through my garments, and doing my best to stay ‘modelesque’…I could not believe how liberating it was. I felt calm, in control, and most importantly, I was having so much fun!

And as you can see from these photos, we did a variety of angles to showcase the grand setting we were in. Near or far away, the shots were washed in the awesomeness that is Mesquite Sand Dunes. We were so in love with this place.

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Speaking about love, I love everything about my outfit. But I had to give a gleeful shout-out to those Jesus Romero pants. I’m telling you, it’s like they were made just for this photoshoot. When we were doubtful about doing this session earlier this morning, thinking about those pants was the tipping point for me to decide ‘let’s just DO THIS.’

Deconstructed fringes on the hem brushing those fine-grain sands with every step was quite simple yet sensational experience. Moreover, the kimono’s peach lining matched really closely with those fringes and tuxedo stripes. All in all, the colors for every single piece worked so wonderfully together; they were perfect.

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From beginning to end, this was a truly amazing experience. Death Valley National Park was really in a class of its own with vast land, varying beautiful landscapes, and harsh temperature throughout. Because of these factors, doing DIY editorial photoshoots was a wholesomely inspiring experience of proper planning, perseverance, and joy. Seeing these Mesquite Sand Dunes photos made me so excited and I’m definitely looking forward to do this again in the future!

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Thanks for reading; until next time,

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Style notes: vintage Chanel bustier, Jesus Romero pants, second-hand kimono from Koenji, Japan. Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses.

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