As the sun sets on Black Rock City, it almost evokes those iconic Tatooine scenes from Star Wars. On this past labor day, there's a lot more going on than exquisite lighting. The 33rd annual Burning Man festival brought the Nevada desert to life with a stunning array of expression. It's the kind of event you have to experience to fully understand, but the moments I captured speak for themselves.
Burning Man operates under 10 Principles, the first of which is radical inclusivity. This makes for a diverse, invigorated group of artists operating with no confines. Indeed, the barren nature of Black Rock City makes the community the color. This plays into other principles like community, decommodification and radical self-expression, participation. Of course, this made great images.
I found myself acting more as a photojournalist in this environment. Shooting photos of what I saw and asking people if I could take their photo. Every person I encountered was up for the idea and was thrilled I had asked. There is so much going on everywhere you look. From enormous structures to individuals, my process centered around catching the right people at the right time. Taking people’s photo was a really fun way to connect and hear their story. The stunning desert vistas provide the perfect contrast to the self-contained artists, offering vast landscape shots and personal portraits.
Over the course of the day, Black Rock City produced multiple shades of breathtaking light. The shots almost made themselves in that regard. The key became using the evolving light to your advantage and getting shots just as people caught that perfect glimmer. The challenge, of course, is being intentional with your shots without interfering with the natural flow of the event.
The magic of Burning Man comes from genuine freedom of expression. The sheer volume of unforgettable spectacle can become overwhelming, but incredibly fun. I didn’t want to rush around trying to capture as many things as I could. Sitting back sometimes and acknowledging the beautiful moments was fantastic. Being patient and zeroing in on the little moments I found special gave me my most unique shots.
After looking at these shots, you still might not know what exactly Burning Man is. Frankly, it really is incredibly hard to explain and different for everyone that attends. And that’s the point, to experience it for yourself and do the things you love. Walking through with an eye for diamonds in the rough allows you to participate in that free-form expression. Though it’s founded on a will to push the limits, Burning Man ultimately brings people together in pursuit of untethered artistry.