One of the mission of the Yucca Valley Film festival is to offer its platform to local artists from the whole Mojave Desert.

A dozen local photographers, painters, filmmakers are selected in competition this year in several categories, and will meet you all!

One of them is Gillyan Thorburn, creative photographer with an eye to capture special desert moments.

Gillyan Thorburn, such a beautiful name! What is your story and what brought you to the Hi Desert?

Thank you. I was named after my father’s best friend’s late wife, Gillian; both she and my father’s best friend were British. Thorburn was my married name. I am divorced, but I kept the name because I have two adult children from that marriage. I moved  to the Hi Desert from Los Angeles in December, 2012, when life in the big city became too hectic and no longer fulfilling. 

You are obviously inspired by the surroundings and all the magnificent natural settings we have around here. What do you see first, the shape, the colors… What catches your eyes as a photographer?

Light is always the first thing that catches my eye, and then shapes and colors always come last. The way light moves never fails to show and reveal the story of the place— the rocks, the plants, and the sky. When shapes show up, it become a point of reference to confirm what the story of the place is.

The series you are going to show during the Yucca Valley Film Festival is mostly focused on mountains, shaped by different lights, different times of the day. Where were these pictures taken?

All 5 of the images were taken in Joshua Tree National Park. 3 of them showcase Barker Dam, a historical area in the Park. Water will accumulate in this place only when we have lots of rainstorms, and the area is popular for wildlife to come for water and food as well as a breeding ground for the Red-spotted Toad and some migrating birds. The other 2 Images showcase rare events here in the desert: snow and thick fog.


You just won first prize at the California Welcome Center Art Contest in Yucca Valley. It is a busy, and successful year for you! What are your projects in 2023?  

I am going to keep hiking and taking photographs of this beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, and I am interested to explore other parts of the Mojave Desert. I am looking forward to seeing what the desert will reveal…

What are your websites, facebook pages, social? 

My facebook page is or email me—

         Thank you!