The Modernist: the influence of midcentury modern design on photography

February 06, 2023

An exhibition of photographs by local photographers Jim Riche, James Schnepf, Nancy Baron, Millicent Harvey, Stephen Baumbach and others,

with Australian photographers Tom Blachford and Jack Lovel


Photographs attached: please credit photographers where used


An exhibition of photography, entitled ‘The Modernist: the influence of midcentury modern design on photography,’ opens at the UCR Palm Desert Campus on Friday, February 10th and runs until April 28th. Open 9am to 5pm daily The show features five local photographers along with Australians Tom Blachford and Jack Lovel. This is the first show of its kind to combine the work of local photographers, renowned for their interpretations of Modernism, all of whom have been photographing the Palm Springs area for many years and many of whom have books published relating to modernist architecture. In addition, photographer Jack Lovel will show his photographs of midcentury architecture in Australia to round out the exhibition. The group show illustrates how midcentury modern design has influenced the work of all these photographers. More than 40 images will be on display. An opening night reception from 6pm – 8pm is open to the public.  Admission is free.  Works are all for sale.


Work ranges from portraits and lifestyle to architecture and abstracts. Each photographer approaches their projects from different perspectives but use midcentury design and architecture as both the inspiration and the core subject of their photographs. Four of the featured photographers have had books published that celebrate Palm Springs, its people, lifestyle, and its architecture.


Exhibition Information

The Modernists: The Influence of Midcentury Design on Photography

Reception: Friday, February 10th from 6-8pm. Open to the public.

Show dates: February 10th – April     

Address: UCR Palm Desert Center

75080 Frank Sinatra Dr, Palm Desert CA 92211

TIMES:9am to 5pm daily  FREE ADMISSION


About the photographers

Jim Riche’s images partnered his wife Melissa Riche’s text in the 2018 book ‘Mod Mirage,’ about the midcentury architecture of Rancho Mirage. His work was also featured on the cover and inside the 2016 Modernism Week publication ‘Desert Modernists,’ and in Palm Springs Life. His architectural abstracts were displayed at Coda Gallery. His architectural photographs have won numerous awards in the USA and the international ‘Prix de la Photographie.’ He and his wife live in the historic Tamarisk Ranchos district in Rancho Mirage.


James Schnepf is a Palm Desert based professional commercial photographer whose work focuses on portraits and lifestyle. His book, ‘Palm Springs Modern Living,’ focused on the personalities and lifestyles of Palm Springs residents. James and his wife Christiane live in the historic Sandpiper district of Palm Desert.


Nancy Baron is a fine art documentary photographer, based in Los Angeles and Palm Springs, whose work is known to many for its idiosyncratic, optimistic approach to the ‘Palm Springs Modern’ lifestyle, published in her books like the most recent: ‘Modern Dogs at Home,’ or ‘The Good Life: Palm Springs.’ Her work has been shown internationally.


Millicent Harvey’s images convey a sense of place through light and shadow, texture and movement. She often remains at a site throughout the day and in all weathers to capture the unexpected. As a commercial and fine art photographer since 1990, her experience is reflected in her technical skills, her vision, and her attention to light and composition. Landscapes provide an emotional connection for her: they are spiritual, grounding and motivating. She photographs for a range of design clients, for regional and national publications and in the field of agriculture. She is based in Palm Springs where she draws inspiration from modernists architecture, smoke trees and the desert landscapes of the American Southwest.


Stephen Baumbach For 45years, Stephen Baumbach has pursued the thing that has captivated him since High School…the art of photography. He has taught in classrooms, workshops and been exhibited in numerous shows nationwide. His images range in scope from rodeos to national and international architectural icons. Now settled in Palm Springs, CA since October 2014, Stephen’s eye is on the surrounding desert…the off-the-grid and outlier areas… that yield extraordinary beauty he captures with his artists’ eye and his trusty Canon.

Tom Blachford works at the intersection of long exposure photography and exploration of the built environment. His fine art photographs seek to transform predictable and known environments into surreal and dreamlike worlds. Using only existing light sources, e.g. the moon in ‘Midnight Modern,’ Blachford hunts for the overlooked cinematic moments in the everyday and works to distil them with a sense of mystery, unease and wonder. Tom’s work has been featured widely in art and design media around the world and has been exhibited and collected by art lovers internationally.

Jack Lovel is an architectural photographer based in Melbourne. With over a decade of experience, he works with some of the leading architects and design practices in the field. His editorial work often features in global publications like Vogue Living, Dwell, Habitus and Houses. Jack has been documenting Iwan Iwannoff’s architectural legacy in Western Australia, culminating in the release of his first book “Catching Light,” inspired by the Iwanoff-designed house that Jack grew up in. It is a testament to his fascination with modernist architecture.


Published books by the participants: 


Jim Riche and Melissa Riche – ‘Mod Mirage: The Midcentury Architecture of Rancho Mirage’ (August 2018, Publisher: Gibbs Smith)


James Schnepf – Palm Springs Modern Living (March 2015, Publisher: Gibbs Smith)


Nancy Barron – The Good Life (August 2014 Publisher: Kehrer Verlag), Modern Dogs at Home (Sept 2020 Publisher: Schiffer), The Good Life Goes On (October 2016 Publisher: Kehrer Verlag)


Millicent Harvey – Featured photographer in Visible/Invisible Monograph, HOCKER – 2005-2020 Landscapes”


Tom Blachford – Midnight Modern: Palm Springs Under the Full Moon (February 2017 Publisher: PowerHouse Books)