20 years of The Salton Sea..

The first time I visited The Salton Sea was was a hot July in 1999. Back then areas around The Salton such as Bombay Beach were a close guarded secret by photographers in a time before the internet could tell you how to get anywhere on the face of the planet.
I remember pulling up to the lakes shores for the first time as the putrid smelling air filled the car and the thermometer read 121 degrees. 
A scene which can only be described as apocalyptic filled me with excitement as I had found the place I had always waned to go since the day I seen Richard Misrach's images taken there in the late 80's.
Stepping out of the car was like walking fully clothed into a sauna and within minutes everything was saturated with sweat. Setting up the camera close to the shore of the lake I returned to the car and the relief of the AC and waited for the light. I will never forget the transformation that occurred when the sky turned to peach and the entire place began to glow...
I made only two images that day but knew I would be back. 

Poles. Bombay Beach July 1999 

And so 20 years later (almost) I headed once again to Bombay Beach, The Salton Sea.
Perhaps I should of waited until July and made it a proper anniversary event, but the thought of sweaty pants did not really inspire me. Instead a cool 95 degrees made the place feel quite normal. 
I should point out that I have been going to The Beach on and off for all these years (My Thursdays By The Sea project), but it had still been a long while...  

 Swing. Bombay Beach. May 2019.

So much has changed in since I first got a whiff of the Salton. The lake itself is shrinking and many of the buildings and really interesting things  have all but gone, but it still gets the creative juices flowing..
And so I made an image (above) I was relatively happy with (that will do it) and headed back to my car. Imagine my surprise when there in my path stood a cloaked figure (someone stood under a dark cloth) behind a large 8/10" view camera. Now most people would find this most odd in a digital age, but not me, I was just a little annoyed they appeared to be making a photograph of the same subject matter I had just recorded... But my days of the jealous raging photographer are behind me now and as I approached I gave my opponent a cheery,

 "Hello There." 

The plagiarist removed the dark cloth from his sweaty bald head and said in a broad Northern English accent;

"I've been wanting to come here for for years. It's just amazing."

"Indeed it is." I replied. 

And then a response I would never of dreamed of;

"I seen an exhibition a few years ago in London and had been wanting to visit ever since. Basically the guy came here every Thursday (it was a Thursday) for a whole year. "

That's right, he was taking about my own show, Thursdays By The Sea. I could of wept and hid the tears in my sweaty face, but no..

"Sounds like it was a good one." I replied.

And with that I walked back to my car thinking of the time I first visited The Salton Sea with a large 10/8" camera..

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