Lightgathering 2021 | Salton Sea

I’ve written before about the group of wise and experienced photographers called Lightgathering that get together on a yearly basis. The same group that has adopted me as one of their own. Unfortunately with Covid, there wasn’t a Lightgathering in 2020, and 2019 was held here in San Diego, and I was playing host more than shooting.

Now that we are in a post-ish Covid world, with vaccines, and no more stay-at home orders, we were excited to hold another Lightgathering. This year it was decided to meet at the Salton Sea, despite it only being 2 hours from me, I hadn’t had the sheer joy of experiencing what a unique and quirky place the whole area is. I hope my photos below convey just how much fun I had photographing.

Chapter One | Lightgathering Cast of Characters

I arrived a day later than everyone else. Alan, Neil, Dennis, Richard were already photographing when I met up with them at the Sonny Bono Wildlife Reserve along the shores of the dead Salton Sea.


Chapter 2 | Bombay Beach

All the dead fish are gone, but the stench is still there.

While the place is a ghost town, and Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby no longer hang out there, Bombay Beach still has a pulse of life. There are art installations everywhere you look. In fact many of Burning Man’s art pieces come here to retire.


Chapter 3 | East Jesus

This place was fun! Found object art. The Honda XR was probably my favorite. Oh! And the outdoor bowling alley (sorry, no pictures of that).


Chapter 4 | Slab City

“The Last Free Place in America” This is the allure for many outcasts and people on the fringes of society. If you don’t want to be found, this is a good place to get lost.

The few people I met and spoke with were running from something, although some were running to this. They wanted to be embraced by a community of unembraced.


Chapter 5 | Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight was the man that brought this colorful and whimsical monument to God and love to life. Sadly he has passed away, but his legacy lives on with the mountain, and the works of art made from dead cars, and found objects.

Taking Leonard’s place for the last 5 years is Ron. His smile is infectious, and so is his work ethic and devotion to preserving Leonard’s vision.

Check Out William's Latest Book

There Ain’t No Pageantry in Cockfighting

A short novela recounting a surf trip to Baja turns South when the engine my '71 Volkswagon seized, leading me on an adventure down Baja 1000 roads, encounters with transvestite prostitutes, and drought ending weddings.

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