Another year down.. I touched upon this last time, but now that I’ve been a decent amount with my camp, it simply feels like a city we go to visit on a regular basis. We have our friends that we see mostly there. We have our spots we like to visit. It become so familiar in a way, but never ceases to be able to put smiles on our faces.
This year was a bit odd to start as we were met with a sign that said the side we usually camp on was completely full. We still took a drive around there and saw numerous turnkey camps that were still completely devoid of people. Burning Man has so much beyond the typical “come and have your experience” event. The special vibe survives off of people contributing, and it blows me away how many people don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing up all taken care of seeing what they can get out of it. If you’re an adventurer you wouldn’t hike across a mountain range and say “I wish they built a gondola through this”. Burning Man is the same and should give you some struggles to work through in order to come out stronger and appreciate the highs even more.
I thought a lot this year about what can not be captured with still photography. This is my medium of choice, but it has its limitations. There is no way a photographer can capture the cacophony of sounds that we constantly experience every minute of every day. My dad asked me upon returning this year how the noises don’t all blend in together. If you’re at one stage or art car with a good system, that’s all you’ll hear. But as soon as you step away, the rest start to filter in. If you’ve been out all night and go deep playa for a sunrise, you can close your eyes and hear at least a dozen different systems booming the air in your direction, and there is something so beautiful about it that is impossible to forget. The vibe is what I aim to capture the most as I believe it is still one of the most difficult aspects to show. I like that my photos are intimate and show a wide array of emotions from this city’s inhabitants. But even with all you can capture, a single photographer can never catch it all. I’ve come back from a burn and felt like I saw almost everything, only to realize afterward that I never got to lay eyes on one of the most prominent art structures that is being talked about the most. Scott London, an amazing long time Burning Man photographer that I’ve recently become friends with, comically said to me “You know, when another photographer shows you a great photo they captured, the only thing you can say is ‘F you..’ “ because we’re clearly just going to be jealous that we didn’t capture the same thing.
Anyway, this burn was special for me because I’ve had a lot on my plate this year and it was great for me to be able to disconnect. In a way I had a bit more introverted of a social experience at times as I was very happy to step back and admire scenes on my own, even during my camp’s bigger party nights I would float off the dance floor and wander for a few minutes in admiration of the beautiful city we everyone built. One of my best friends Tyisha was an incredible rookie this year, getting very involved with her camp before the burn. She had a tearful moment while we were out on the playa as she looked around and was in complete awe at what we had all created.
The moments you experience are priceless. Whether it’s as simple as the ice cold lemonade stand that roped you in on the hottest part of the day, running into friends you haven’t seen in years, meeting and chatting with one of your favorite DJs because he complimented your friend’s space suit (we love you DJ Dan!), your best friend setting up a deep playa oasis to cool people off, the ecstatic moment DJ Kramer bumped Lola’s Theme during Distrikt’s week-closing set, or watching a hundred foot tall wooden man explode and burn in the middle of absolutely nowhere with all of your friends, they’re all meant to be highlights of your life and help you grow.
Burning Man is not for everybody, but if you come with the right attitude and think of ways you can contribute, even if it’s small, it will help us all maintain this city and make sure it stays extraordinary. You’ll understand why everyone says to you upon arrival: “Welcome home”