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The Santa Barbara Project is a community photography project designed by local photographer Nathaniel Gray. Mr. Gray's vision has always been to raise awareness and to help break down discrimination, not only here in Santa Barbara, but also on a national level. This two year long human project is an in-depth look into the hearts of the people that call Santa Barbara home. We are proud to say that over 200 locals from all walks of life have helped to shape the Santa Barbara Project. Inside this unique book, you will find Nathaniel's raw black and white portrait photography alongside the individual's powerful autobiographies they have written themselves. Unflinching, honest, and inspiring. The Santa Barbara Project is spellbinding and deeply touching. Purchase the eBook here

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"I am told I am a wealthy white girl, privileged. I live in a idyllic town in a beautiful home. I am a sister to a deranged boy. The daughter who will be the first to go to college because the boy cannot. I want to tell my mother what the boy does to me... her room is dark , I am told to leave." 


"I remember watching a drag show at the Pacific Pride Festival and thinking to myself  'I can do that!' Something about the wigs, the lashes, the heels, all seemed so empowering to me. That was when everything started to to fall into place."


"Mom and dad got divorced after a tumultuous time when I was 2 and my brother Jeff and I had 3 more dad's. My first step dad, 'Pops' was always loving and kind, but my mom viewed me as competition. Pops died of alcoholism and prescription drug overdose when I was around 7 or 8."


"I am a Chicana (Mexican-American), a christian, a teacher, a wife, a sister, a tia, a friend, an activist, a daughter, and a bisexual. As a bisexual Latina, my journey coming out wasn't easy. For a long time, I worried about what others would think or how I made them feel. I was afraid of holding my partner's hand in public."



"When my husband and I were told our giggling 5-month-old with perfect pudgy thigh rolls was going to die, I grieved for all she would never get to do and all we'd never get to experience with her. She'd never learn to walk. Or take ballet classes or play on the soccer field. She'd never go to prom or attend college or get married."


"For years, I abused my body through an eating disorder: Anorexia. Restricting my calories, over exercising , saying terrible awful things to myself and about myself. Abandoning myself when I needed me the most was honestly the norm for the first half of my life. I remember so many moments, looking at myself in the mirror, feeling despair, and questioning if I even wanted to keep choosing to be on this planet."  


"My mother died from leukemia on Friday the 13th at the age of 45, when I was 6 years old. Her passing left behind a loving husband and six uniquely spirited children. I was the youngest; a born dreamer and a frolicsome dancer (Twinkle Toes", as my dad would call me); habitudes that would prove to help carry me through the most difficult times in life." 


"I was three. I remember being walked into the sea at the Miramar, one parent on each hand; when a wave rolled in and knocked me over. Looking up through the water at the sky, I knew I was home. Santa Barbara has forever felt that way. The last of nomads who first arrived in SB in the early 20s. I will always be grateful that my folks said, "Here. This is Santa Barbara. Like it."

Rich or poor, there’s blood between every layer of skin.
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Nathaniel Gray


Owner and principal photographer of the Santa Barbra Project. Mr. Gray's life is dedicated to mastering the craft of portrait photography and helping others find their powerful voice. "I hold the gift of creating the Santa Barbara Project very close to my heart. It is the greatest happiness in my life. I am faithfully married to my work." 
Nathaniel has been working on the production of the Project for over two years. Photographing and interviewing hundreds of people in the process.

 A proud board member to a few local non-profits, Mr. Grays time is spent in the assistance of others and serving our community. With strong beliefs in equality and kindness, Nathaniel is set on making lasting changes here in Santa Barbara and on a National level. 
"I'm a firm believer in kindness, respect, and love. I understand that we are all connected in many forms. This was shown to me by interviewing hundreds of people... many in their darkest moments of life. It is truly remarkable what you can learn when you just listen to others."

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