Home on the Road: Vivian Kim’s Desert Diary on Film

Adventure |

Photographer Vivian Kim ventures into the dusty, sun-soaked horizons to recenter and get reinspired. Words and Photos by Vivian Kim.

It seems cliché at this point to talk about how wild and tumultuous this year has been. It’s been a period of political and social unrest, emotional and mental trials, but, undoubtedly, also one of personal growth and collective reflection.

Vivian Kim

Photographer Vivian Kim.

The excitement I usually feel from change has been replaced with feelings of discomfort, mainly stemming from not being able to deal with, or control the direction of these new changes. This year, instead of intentionally filling my life with spontaneous decisions—such as booking last minute trips or turning strangers into friends—I’ve been forced to sit with, and adapt to, unprecedented events that I have no control over nor been prepared for.

Desert road trip

Home on wheels for the next few days.

Midform Universal

Vivian wears the Midform Universal in Bolt Light.

I don’t quite know how to express my current state. I usually do so through art, but it’s been hard to be productive when everything else seems to be at a standstill.

Beyond my work as a photographer being put on hold due to the pandemic, there was little that seemed to inspire me. It felt impossible during these times to travel somewhere new or link up with people to shoot.

Ember Moc

Exploring wide open spaces with her dog Brixton wearing the Ember Moc in Birch.

Desert Road Trip

At these transitional moments in my life, I feel the need to be centered. Because so many changes seem to be at the mercy of the universe, for lack of a better term, I seek out a constant. I can’t control outside forces, but I can at least control the environment and community I place myself in.

Nature has always been my escape. I feel most at home when untethered on the road. Feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, I went out to the desert with my friend Kris, to unplug and recenter. We didn’t have any big plans, I put my phone away, and let the road determine what I would prioritize. Often, it was whatever view was right in front of us at the moment.

Highside '84

Ember Moc in Birch

How did we as humans become so far removed from the land from which we originated? What a luxury it was to have no place to be, no one to see, no meeting to go to, no deadline to meet.

I used to hate the desert, because I felt that the desert represented isolation and stillness. As someone who thrives being around friends, I obviously fill my life with everything but. Time and time again, I avoid any type of isolation and or solitude because I don’t want to face my fears or be left alone with doubts. I try to distract myself and keep myself stimulated so that I am always focusing on what’s next versus what’s at hand. I am rarely present with the present.

California Desert

These few days gave me what I didn’t know I needed — open air, tranquility, and space to just be. It was only when I became quiet, that I was able to fully be restored. I stopped focusing on creating and producing, and inspiration finally came pouring in. I needed to learn that it’s ok to have moments of doing nothing. Retreating to nature reminds me that I need to make time for myself — to relax and enjoy the goodness around me, to rest in the beauty of the world.

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