If you’ve never heard of Bombay Beach, that’s not a huge surprise. It’s a town of less than a couple hundred people out in the dry desert, attached to the Salton Sea. But that’s what makes it all the more unique. The Salton Sea is basically a mistake sea. What is a mistake sea you ask? Well, when we tried to redirect part of the Colorado River, some of the runoff found itself pooling into a low spot in the desert. Boom, Salton Sea created. And where there’s water, there’s life. Steffi and Jack recently relocated out to Bombay from LA, looking to put down roots in a place less chaotic. It’s safe to say, Bombay is the polar opposite of LA.
Jack let me into their lives so unexpectedly. I showed up in the desert, prepared to photograph my pre-chosen subject for a workshop I was taking. When that subject was nowhere to be found, I drove up and down the streets thinking. 50% of me was in fear that Id fail in front of a teacher I admired. 40% of me was optimistic that my normal, “I’ll talk to anyone” spirit would pay off. And the last 10% of me was starving. So I pulled over to eat a sandwich. I still believe the sandwich was lucky because the street I stopped on, was where Jack and his buddy were playing football. Magic. “Hi! My name’s Erica, and I’m working on a photo project. Could I photograph you for a while?” Without hesitation, “Hell yeah girl, let’s go!” Jack stepped up to the plate, showing me around Bombay via his plumbing truck, teaching me about the incredible heart of this town, and taking me to meet Steffii, his lovely wife. We shared stories about family, life, art and painting, and their new relationship with the spirits above who support their souls.
We often forget to give back respect to the place that allows us to live there, and to develop relationships with our neighbors in communities we generally share such close quarters with. I was blown away at how Jack and Steffi embraced whole heartedly this place. This place with a vibe like no other; So empty, but at the same time bursting at the seams with creative ideas from every parched bead of sand. Within no time, it seemed like they were meant to be there from the all along. They connect with their community through work, and through their Faith & Food events, and more importantly now they just enjoy being happy. If there’s anything that Jack and Steffii taught me over the time I spent with them, if you surround yourself with colors, happiness is simply unavoidable.