Southern California-based photographer Rhombie Sandoval documents the people of Slab City, California in her series, “East of Jesus.”
Often described as “the last free place to live in the United States,” the off-grid community is home—both temporary and long-term—to a variety of people. Here, runaway boys and old hippies live off the grid, in tents or caravans. In the Slabs there is no water, no electricity, no rules and a general consensus to live and let live. Built for military purposes in the 1940s, the camp was soon abandoned by the Marines. Twenty years after they’d first arrived, a new migration began, and now 150 people live there permanently, enduring temperatures that reach 50°C in summer.
Shooting with a medium format camera for the first time, Sandoval’s slowed process of collaboration helped her arrive at her approach, describing the series as “a collection of moments in which the image itself is secondary to the experience.” Alongside her photographs, she records anecdotes about her experiences along the way.