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Burning Man 2018

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

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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.

Enough complaining…

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”

Freedive Training in Roatan | Honduras

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

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I was in the beautiful island of Roatan in Honduras for a friend’s wedding and was able to meet with a local freedive instructor (Morgan Guille at www.roatanfreediving.com) who invited me to join as he did some training with Iru Balic (Venezuelan freedive champion). It was amazing to see some real experts hone their craft together and be able to capture a few moments.

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Freedive Roatan Honduras - Julian Walter Photography

Freedive Roatan Honduras - Julian Walter Photography

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Burning Man 2017

Monday, September 11th, 2017

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It’s the Fight Club mentality. Ditch your amenities, be uncomfortable, beat yourself up a bit. It’s just a week after all. Many people question this pilgrimage but if you have gone and connected then you understand it too.

We set out once again for this beautiful patch of land in the northern Nevada desert to be immersed in an environment with thousands of other like minded people to see how we can warp our perception of the world we live in.

It is said every year that Burning Man has changed. People who haven’t ever attended come up with an absurd idea that it has become “commercialized”. Of course it has changed. It started off with fifteen guys on a beach in San Francisco, and now 32 years later, over 60,000 people watch a gigantic man burn in the desert 300 miles away. There will always be tourists. I’ve only gone consecutively since 2011 and I can feel a change, but I’d also bet that some veteran burners gave up on the event that same year when I arrived wide eyed and beaming with excitement. It’s the gentrification effect. The change is hard to swallow, but realize we were all new at one point.

I can say with confidence that before my first time in our beautiful city, I was a fairly straight-lined in-the-box thinking person. This festival has changed me for the better and I’ve become a much more creative and colorful person because of it. With every year there is definitely a noticeable increase in newbies, but I believe the core burners and vibe of the event still remain strong and maintain the principles of the gathering. And with all the virgins, the silver lining is that if the same thing can happen to these people as what happened to me, then I believe ultimately this community is still making the world a better place.

Whether you’ve been or not, I hope you enjoy a glimpse into how I chose to spend my time this time around. Welcome home.

NYC Pride 2017

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

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Sunday June 25 2017 marks one of the most fun events I’ve been to in New York City. And the fact that it’s for the purpose of celebrating something as special as gay rights just makes it all the better. I was very grateful to get invited by a new good friend of mine Tyisha to walk with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation‘s bus, and as excited as I was, this day was beyond my expectations.

The energy of this parade was completely matched by the energy of the crowd, which was full of smiles and cheer that were all so purely positive. It was amazing to see people of all types of backgrounds, classes, etc all come together to celebrate the LGBT community. It amazes me that in today’s world this is still an issue, knowing that people in certain countries are getting killed for their preferences. As a straight white male I’m about as privileged as it gets, but it angers me to know that there is so much hate against a group of people for this absurd reason. My pride for this day was knowing that I live in one of the most progressive cities in one of the most progressive countries in this world. I love New York so much for this reason and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.

In the end, I don’t care who you are or where you come from, there is no reason to discriminate against someone for their sexual orientation. This is humans loving humans and between consenting adults none of this should matter at all. Love is love is love. Happy to share a few smiles with you.

Sri Lanka

Monday, March 27th, 2017

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One month exploring this beautiful country was the perfect amount of time to take it slow and get a good feel for things. Started out in Colombo, made our way north to Jaffna, down into some mountain towns, and then to the south coast in Weligama. It was my first time to this part of the world and from what I’ve heard Sri Lanka is like an “India Lite”, meaning obviously much smaller and a bit calmer. Being almost three quarters Buddhist, it makes for a slightly different vibe than its predominantly Hindu neighbor.

Our favorite was the beautiful region around Jaffna in the north, not that there was anything stunning about it geographically speaking, but the people and little places to discover made it very special. Some places were very relaxed and inviting, while others were a bit intense, especially while exploring with a blonde girl by my side when I needed to jump into photographing situations in a large crowd of people.

We were fascinated by the way things ran here and the different mentalities we came across. We were especially shocked to hear that most Sri Lankans thought Donald Trump was a great guy, then they were confused when I told them that he doesn’t like dark skinned people. Some, we concluded, must simply be giving the thumbs up for camaraderie, not knowing that most Americans who travel are the ones who don’t like him.

Overall this place has lots of great potential for travel and I’d really like to get out on my own at some point and off the common path. The locals were almost always very excited to see westerners, curious to ask where we came from and how we liked their country. I can understand why some travelers are so drawn to this part of the world and I definitely hope I can keep making occasional visits for the rest of my life.

Colombo

My first impression into Sri Lanka, this city’s center isn’t very large but it can feel crowded in the main tight commercial zones. Next to downtown is a construction site that covers many acres and spans into the water, preparing the foundations for some atrocious Dubai style living places right on the water. It will be interesting to see how it will change in the coming years.

The railway is placed right along the coast which leaves room for beautiful photo opportunities as the overpacked trains haul through. You’ll get anything from super friendly smiles to the horrible hustlers that won’t leave you alone. All in all it was an interesting place to spend a few days.

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Sri Lanka Colombo - Julian Walter Photography

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Surf Portraits | Bali

Monday, February 20th, 2017

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Surfing is mostly defined, understandably, by waves. It is the most important aspect of the sport after all. However on a recent visit to Bali I realized another very important part of the experience: the locals. In this case I made friends right away with a few surfers and thought to make a series of portraits to show a bit more that goes on behind the waves that we all know.

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Surf Portraits Bali - Julian Walter Photography

Surf Portraits Bali - Julian Walter Photography

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Bali

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

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Bali was never high on my list of places to visit, as I had shared the same feelings about it that many others do: it’s very touristy. I’d seen so many photos and advertisements for beach clubs, resorts, and yoga retreats, and though it all looks fun, Bali didn’t appeal to me much as an exotic destination.

Boy was I wrong.

I committed to spending January there when Joanna got an internship at a hospital in the main city Denpasar for a part of the winter. We found a place to stay for a couple weeks in the area, and right away I knew we were in for something good. It was a perfect mix of hustle and bustle: the usual organized chaos of any Asian city, along with unique visuals and personalities that had us happy to go on extended walks wandering into different neighborhoods. Once we got out and explored more around the island, we felt totally comfortable everywhere. Walking around I’d get a few weird looks, but right away was followed with a smile and wave “Hello!”. The Balinese are some of the nicest people I’ve ever come across abroad.

If you tell people Bali is all spoiled and touristy, please also tell them where you spent your time, especially if it was in the Kuta / Seminyak / Canngu / Sanur / Ubud combination. Describing it in such a way is like spending a night on Bourbon Street then saying how all of New Orleans is a disgusting shitshow and not worth it. Yes, certain parts feel like you’d be in a predominantly white country, full of shops and cafes and all the amenities that westerners are used to. But in my experience the tourism was concentrated enough to the obvious areas that with just a little effort, you can find some hidden gems all to yourself that will really capture your heart and make you realize why it became such a popular destination in the first place.

My good friend Adam Berg’s dad described it best: “There are many different Balis. There’s touristy Bali, quiet mountains Bali, city hustling Bali, etc”. And I’d say if you didn’t like your Bali, you just have to try and immerse yourself into another one. Here’s a look into mine.

Bukit

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Bali - Julian Walter Photography

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Bali - Julian Walter Photography

Bali - Julian Walter Photography

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Trump Protest | NYC | Nov 9, 2016

Monday, November 14th, 2016

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After a day of palpable depression weighed on the city on November 9, 2016, residents took to the streets to protest against the new President Elect Donald Trump. I joined the crowd as they gathered outside his residence Trump Tower on 5th Ave and captured a few moments.

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Julian Walter Photography - Donald Trump Election Protest

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Julian Walter Photography - Donald Trump Election Protest

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New York City Marathon

Saturday, November 12th, 2016

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I had never seen the marathon before and after this day I understood why some people called it their favorite event in New York. I decided to follow the race from mid-level Brooklyn around the Barclay’s Center, back up through Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City (Queens), all the way across the Upper Eastside, into the Bronx, back down Harlem and Central Park East, into the park and up to the finish line. The experience was incredible, and I wasn’t even a participant! The amount of people who come out to support and cheer on the runners was so heartwarming to feel the ongoing sense of community in this city. Each neighborhood had its distinct vibe and it was a great day to see everything along the way.

Williamsburg

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Julian Walter Photography - New York City Marathon

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Julian Walter Photography - New York City Marathon

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Burning Man 2016

Monday, September 12th, 2016

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Always beautiful faces, always incredible new experiences. This year was yet again nothing short of amazing. My good friend Brian called it “The Year of the Skies” as we had many clouds which lit up so colorful for sunrises and sunsets. As cliché as it is to say, the spirit of Burning Man can not be captured in images and words. Some new visitors I brought had seen many photos before and knew what to expect visually, but the nurturing soul of the population is far more tangible in person than can be imagined when viewing photos. All that being said, here is once more my attempt to bring this other home into the real world.


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