ethereal elopement at the salton sea in the california desert

Welcome to the Salton Sea — one of the strangest places I've ever been. When the initial location for this photoshoot didn't pan out, I had less than 24 hours to choose another spot. I was staying in Palm Desert, about 30 minutes away from the Salton Sea. I started looking up photos of the Salton Sea and was immediately intrigued. It was eerily beautiful. From there, I started reading about the fascinating history of this place.


According to the Desert Magazine, "only a few decades ago, the Salton Sea was one of California’s gems. Many remember it as a highly visited tourist destination with seaside homes, prime fishing and water sports amid an idyllic desert setting. During the 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin led boat races with the Rat Pack and friends. Talent such as the Pointer Sisters and the Beach Boys would perform concerts on the shores of this radiant paradise." In the 1970s, the lake began to experience rising salinity levels and contamination from agricultural runoff. Another article says, “The people went from living in paradise to living in hell.”


The sea, while beautiful, is toxic. Imperial County, one of the poorest counties in California with predominantly Latino residents, has been especially affected by a rotten-egg odor from hydrogen sulfide overrunning the sea’s oxygen-deprived water. It’s also exposed to the dust billowing from dry lakebed, which contains toxins like arsenic and selenium.


Imperial is now known for some of the worst air quality in the country. It has the highest rate of asthma-related emergency room visits for children in California — about double the state average.


So, these photos, while eerily beautiful, definitely show that things aren’t always what they seem.


I'm all about couples saying, "I do," in strange, beautiful places around the world. This one definitely makes the list of unique places to get married!


Thank you to the amazing people who collaborated on this shoot to make it happen:


MODELS — The Sherrs

JEWELRY — Sadie Jo Jewelry Co.