The Photographic Performance 2017/Jim Riche

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts, conversations, focusing on the many entries we received for our call “The Photographic Performance 2017” that were not chosen for exhibition in the gallery, yet we feel demand an audience.

Jim has worked in the film industry for many years.  He has a cinematographers eye.  He looks at his subject like David Lean or Stanley Kubrick, who was also a photographer.  The decay and rugged, salt impregnated visions of the environs around the Salton Sea are framed not unlike Lawrence heading out into the majestic, yet also vertiginous desert or Spartacus leading gladiators across the wide Italian plain towards Rome.


How did you come to photography?

I got a BFA in Photography as a Fine Art from RIT many years ago. During those years I interned for Pete Turner one summer and was totally immersed in the darkroom creating different techniques of developing Extachrome.  After a number of years in the business I ended up becoming a Director of Photography on a stop motion film.  From there I spent the next 25 years working in Visual Effects for films such as Tron, X-Men:First Class, Deadpool and many others as a VFX Supervisor and an Executive Producer. Now I find myself drawn back to photography as I wind down my film career.  I live in the Palm Springs area of California and the Mojave Desert and Salton Sea areas have a special appeal, a special beauty that you just need to find.

What drew you to do a series on the Salton Sea?

The Salton Sea was created by mistake back in 1905 when a dam broke and it filled with water for 2 years. In the 50s and 60s it became a resort on the water, cities were planned, marinas were built and hotels and resorts flourished.  There were yacht clubs, speed boat races, the stars came from palm springs to have fun in the beautiful water.  Communities built along the coast, Desert Shores , Salton city, Salton Sea Beach with its marina.  Then over on the east side of the lake were the North Shore Yacht Club and the resort town of Bombay Beach and Niland Marina. It has now been left to the elements and the few thousand people who still hang on to life on the edge of the sea.  Two hurricanes in the 70s ripped through the area devastating the communities.  Yet it is still a beautiful place in its own right.  It is a huge bird-way for 80% of the worlds white pelicans and 90% of the eared grebe.  It is a world with history and a beauty that deserves to be saved and to be seen by today’s generation and future generations.

What do you hope people will see in your work? 

I created this series so people can see what man has brought to the world and what nature is taking back.  The Salton Sea was a wonderland totally created by man, it didn’t exist until man made a mistake.  Nature has a way of correcting our mistakes yet the footprint of man will still remain.  It is a shame that we create things that should not have been there in the first place.  I hope people see the Salton Sea as a land that nature is trying to take back and something we need to make sure is taken care of properly.