I don't exactly remember when I first became aware of the Salton Sea. It may have been something I read, or perhaps I saw a news report or documentary, but I do remember being fascinated by this place.
A few weeks ago I finally had an opportunity to spend a day exploring a few of the communitites that remain.
Heading first to the Salton Sea Recreation Area, I had to pass through North Beach and the desolation became apparent. Empty lots where houses would never be built, abandoned gas stations, motels, and stores are the first thing I noticed, and what I expected to see.
However, the recreation area was a surprise. It seemed like many other recreation areas throughout the country, campsites, a camp store, small beach with pavilions, picnic tables, and grills.
But like all the other locations I would visit over the course of the day, something seemed slightly off. Maybe it was the lack of people or the overall sense of failure. I don't mean failure of the people that remain, but the failure that comes from a dying sea. The failure to sustain life due to an increase in salinity and pollution over the years.
I knew before I took my first photo that I would present them in black and white. Even in color, there is a monochromatic look to the area. I also shot all the photographs with the same lens, a Fujifilm 16mm, f 1.4, and from a similar height. That common perspective is what I was looking for in order to make this a series.
With a large waterfront in one direction and mountains in the other, I can see why people were drawn to this location. And perhaps if you look deeper, why some people reamain.
I never made it to Bombay Beach or Slab City and did not interact with any people. I hope to change that if I have the chance to return. Mostly the people. I'm curious what it is like to live on the Salton Sea. And I know it is people that will add a warmth and bring my photographs to life. Maybe even show that the Salton Sea really is alive after all.