Perhaps it was the dramatically macabre title—the Gateway to Death Valley—that sparked my curiosity. I found myself wanting to explore these small towns and observe the kind of people who would live in the middle of nowhere where temperatures hold at 120 degrees for several months
In March of 2009, when America’s economic crash and housing crisis had peaked and the nation was still engaged in two long wars, Los Angeles based photographer Pamela Littky stumbled upon the small desert community of Baker, California on her way to a photo shoot in Las Vegas. A municipal water tank emblazoned with the ominous words “Welcome to Baker-Gateway To Death Valley” piqued her interest. She was curious to find out what a town that promotes itself as the entrance to the legendary region of the Mojave Desert which hosts the hottest climate in the world, and with virtually nothing on either side of it, was all about. In October of the same year, Littky discovered another small town in Nevada called Beatty situated on the opposite side of the desert that made the same claim as Baker.
Littky was drawn to these tight-knight communities that seemed to exist not frozen in time but entirely in their own cultural zones untouched by national and world events. Littky decided to explore with her camera the unique aspects of each town and learn more about the people that lived there. Vacancy (Kehrer, September 2014) is the culmination of Littky’s four-year project (2009-2012) photographing these places. This beautiful volume presents a multifaceted portrait of two fiercely independent communities that are as much rural desert communities as they are states of mind.