Following on from a teenage trip where she fell for the beauty of California, last summer a now 24-year-old Rosaline Shahnavaz returned to the States to cement her love for it. “ I love everything about it: the road, the landscape, the light, the atmosphere. It’s kind of like everything you imagined and more,” she describes. Visiting places like Joshua Tree, Salvation Mountain, Palm Springs, LA, Salton Sea and Deep Creek Hot Springs while taking her LA-based friend, writer and stylist Kate Eringer along for the ride.
The pair met up with real life couple Ali and Joey, who take centre stage draped in young LA labels like Noe Garments, Vance Studios and ACAMA LA in the photographer's soon-to-be-released book Something Like You. “Kate and I had been keeping an eye out and thinking of who we wanted to shoot for the road trip for a while but nothing was jumping out. We were then introduced to Ali through a friend and immediately it clicked. She is such a classic beauty, and completely embodies the character I wanted for our road trip,” explains Shahnavaz. “We met up again with Ali and her then boyfriend Joey the next day and asked them if they’d be up for it. It sort of perfectly fell into place and we were off the next morning.”
She adds: “We created an adventure that allowed for spontaneous photographs to happen. There wasn’t much direction, but the moments were there and I documented them.” Revealing that some of the off-camera moments were some of the most memorable too, including a ‘mirage moment’ after the quartet had been hiking in the sun for eight hours. “Just after Salvation Mountain we were feeling pretty delirious from overheating (when) we spotted the Salton Sea – it looked so beautiful from the distance,” she recalls. “We started running towards it whilst stripping off, so desperate for a cool swim. Then suddenly we couldn’t breathe from the most grotesque smell and noticed the dead fish we were standing on. It was so cruel… I felt like I was on castaway or that I had actually finally experienced a desert mirage. And the flies! We couldn’t escape the flies! We were driving in really fast circles with the windows down for ages trying to get them out. I’m pretty sure we took some back to LA.”
Straddling the line between fashion shoot and travel diary, there is a spontaneity, a trust and an intimacy to Shahnavaz’s images that comes from the bond that a true road trip brings.
Something Like You will launch on 9 April at LA’s Sade Gallery. Follow Shahnavaz here