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DZDNMD Diaries: Clara Balzary
Photography Clara Balzary

Trace an epic road trip from LA to the Grand Canyon

In the second entry of our travel diaries, nomadic photographer Clara Balzary captures her journey to the heart of one of the world’s most sublime locations

The DZDNMD Diaries is a new travel series on Dazed. We’ve invited four of our favourite globetrotting photographers to document their adventures of inspiration and exploration. In a digital age of Instagram geo-tags, the series in collaboration with adidas Originals offers a deeper view of the places these creative nomads are checking in to 

The epitome of an itinerant photographer, travelling runs in the veins of Clara Balzary. "It’s funny to self-mythologise like that", she remarks. "But there’s definitely truth in it". Raised up touring with her father’s band, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, it was frontman and godfather Anthony Kiedis who endowed Balzary with her first camera. As a tween, cat pics may have dominated her repertoire, but since studying photography in NYC and assisting Mario Sorrenti, her lens is often turned to the "idyllic landscape" of her home state California and local LA mates. Capturing the timelessness of nature and the ephemerality of youth, it’s little wonder that her auratic photographs have won her campaigns for the likes of adidas, Urban Outfitters and Opening Ceremony, along with editorials for prints including Dazed, taking her from San Francisco and New York to London and Tokyo.

Informed by coming-of-age classics like Days of Heaven (1978) and Badlands (1973), Balzary’s cinematic aesthetic lends itself effortlessly to her "diaristic" approach of photography. Like a visual diary, this style reconciles a documentary viewpoint with a subjective eye that isn’t afraid to elicit emotion. "I try to take pictures that stir up some kind of emotional feeling, even if visually they're pretty deadpan", she explains. "In art school, we were conditioned to only really talk about the intellectual or theoretical content of an image, which is so bogus! It's ignoring the main reasons of why people make and look at pictures." As confident verbally as she is visually, Balzary’s photographic perspective makes her an ideal nomad for the second trip in our series of DZDNMD Diaries.

From her front door to the Grand Canyon, Balzary drove via Idyllwild ("California's best kept secret"), Palm Desert, and the vast expanse of Arizona. Speaking of her destination, she says, "looking at this natural wonder is to truly experience the feeling of the sublime, and to be reminded that we live on a planet once inhabited by dinosaurs and oceans that have totally metamorphosed. It’s so beyond the everyday scale of urban life, it almost does something to your brain." Heading back to LA, she travelled through the Mojave Desert and Kelso Sand Dunes, pulling off on the way to catch her friends in the golden-hour light. "I was trying to capture the experience of travelling, of being in this liminal space," she reflects, "just that simple idea of being far away." When google earth atomises the world into digestible data, Balzary’s photographs revive its ethereal nature. Scroll down to follow her epic journey.

"We found this pond at the end of an aimless hike outside of Idyllwild and Pine cove. I love how Jane looks so peaceful in the midst of our road-trip delirium"

"Jane got stuck like a cat on a tree up in Idyllwild and Dylan is trying to piggyback her down to safety - though it looks like she is trying to escape!"

"It is the best feeling to be perfectly in the middle of nowhere, and to be able to run at full speed surrounded by nothing but empty highways and pure California vast nothingness"

"It’s funny because you drive straight through this Joshua tree palm desert, it's like this big barren drought Californian landscape, and then turn left up this hill and you're driving up these winding roads, and then all of a sudden, in the flash of an eye, it turns into full blown forests"

"It felt like we were constantly trying to get to any destination at the perfect pre-sunset moment to bask in the orange glow, but I love how perfect this dusky moonrise is on route to the Grand Canyon"

"We started to hike down from the vista even though we weren’t quite sure where we were going. It was crazy to be up in the wooded mountains and then see the dry desert down below. And I like how Jane looks like she is recreating a romantic Caspar David Friedrich style painting"

"On the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Desert it looked like we could have been somewhere in the Sahara. It’s amazing to see firsthand how the San Bernardino mountains crumble into sand. This was the most magical spot to sit and watch the final sunset of our trip"

"Stopping at this little lo-fi mom+pop Alpaca farm off the highway in Arizona was possibly my favorite destination of our journey. These creatures are like little walking caramel clouds"

And Balzary's soundtrack to her roadtrip was...

For a special winter edition of #dazedandexposed, we want you to INSPIRE us with your travel photography! Inspired by adidas Original's new NMD silhouette, show us your global nomadic spirit – summer road trips, winter escapes, jungle adventures, futuristic cityscapes. The best posts will be shared on the Dazed Instagram and featured on dazeddigital.com as well as the adidas Originals Tumblr

To enter: 

TAG your post #dazedandexposed #DZDNMD #NMD @dazed @adidasOriginals
TELL US about your best experience in that place in one sentence.

Recent and new posts are best
Only posts with all hashtags will be considered.
Deadline, January 10th