Thoroughly Burned

Yes, I’m back from Burning Man. I’ve been back for a while, but it often takes days, even weeks, to recover from such a whirlwind of emotion and stress and craziness and magic.

I did not end up taking nearly as many pictures as I had planned to, in part because my electric bike broke mid-week so for the last part of the week I was pretty much trapped in camp.

Here is a selection of the shots I did manage to capture, mainly of my friends. It was a strange, wonderful, painful, unexpected week, and that is how Burning Man is sometimes 🙂

(Be warned, there is one shot of exposed breasts, just in case you are offended or bothered by such images)

We found Andy and the ship! We all spent several years helping to build it (me mostly just taking photos), and it was wonderful to see it out on the playa. My friend Andy is the designer who created it and did much of the welding work. His blog is here if you’d like to know more about him and his projects.


A view of one of the little fire pits near Center Camp, looking out into the open playa.


The view from the top of the small tower in our camp. Being able to get up high and look out over the city, especially around sunrise or sunset, is a wonderful thing.


The amazing El Pulpo Mecanico, one of the most fantastic art cars at Burning Man. Here the creator, Duane Flatmo, is lighting the propane-powered tentacles in preparation for a night of glorious poofing 🙂


My dear friend A. brought his big kite-thingy (I forget what the official name for these things is) so he pedalled us (with me on the back of his bike) out to the middle of the playa, in a dust storm, and had a good half hour of fun (Until the sunburn drove us back to camp).



Each year I like to take a shot looking down the street near sundown. There are always people coming and going, highlighted by the clouds of dust and the waning sunlight, casting magical shadows over the city.


Two of my best friends. The heat of midday tends to suck the energy right out of you. Playa siestas are just part of life there.


My good friend B. taking pics of the Believe installation. Every year this artist builds a new word to bring to the playa, and it always becomes a playground and photo-hound favorite.


I love this shot of B. reclining in the Believe

And yes, Burning Man has a roller rink 🙂 . Every year a group of intrepid souls gathers the materials and roller skates and hauls it all out to this horrid desert so complete strangers can roller skate to awesome disco and 80’s music. I can’t skate anymore, too risky for my back, but i love watching others have fun and occasionally bite the dust (literally!)



With B. on the tower. This was her first year and I think she had a blast ❤


Another shot of El Pulpo. Oh how I love this thing. How can you not??


So, there is a bit of a story behind this photo: I have been the Priestess of the White Dress, with my friend Steve Doberstein, over on the El Pulpo worship page for a couple of years now (A group of dorks who like to play dress-up and adore great works of Burning Man art). Its one of the most epic art cars ever created and we absolutely love it. One night at the burn I saw that El Pulpo was just down the street, less than a block away, so I ambled over and there was Steve, who I hadn’t actually ever met in person, and we met and hugged and it was awesome and then he introduced me to Duane Flatmo, the Almighty Maker, and Jerry his loyal assistant, and they both knew the Priestess of the White dress from Facebook and were pleased to meet me (Squeeee!), and Steve took this wonderful picture on a digital camera that spits out prints (Man, Polaroids have evolved) and it was pretty damn glorious.

So I go off back to camp, all happy and drunk and glowy, and I’d carefully tucked the precious photo into my pocket belt, oh so very carefully, and I kept checking that pocket like a nervous hen, and yet when I got back to camp the pocket was completely empty. I was absolutely devastated. I’d already been having an emotionally difficult burn and It took until the next day for me to convince myself that I wasn’t going to let the loss ruin my whole week. But even after I got hope I couldn’t stop pouting about it. It really cast a shadow over my burn.

And then, one day, Steve looks through his camera and realizes the picture is still there 🙂


Two of my favorite people. I love this shot, and I can’t fully explain why. Yes, semi and full nudity are quite common there, and it’s a nice thing because no one freaks out about it, it’s not necessarily sexual, it’s just humans being human, in whatever way makes them most comfortable.


That was my week. There were so many other moments that i could not capture on my camera, but the memories will always be there. If you’d like to see some wonderful professional photos of all kinds of people and things at this year’s burn, check out my friend Andrew’s album on Facebook 🙂


5 comments on “Thoroughly Burned

  1. rangewriter says:

    I’m so glad you were there to serve as reporter and documentarian. It’s a wild and crazy event and more than I could ever bear. The heat? The dust? The crowds? Oh man. You are my hero! Great shots. Especially that one from the top of the tower thingie.

    • Thank you!! There were so many talented, amazing, and well-equipped photographers out there who got far more and better shots than mine, but I’m glad I managed to share a little bit of my journey with everyone.

      The heat can be rough for many people. Some parts of the day you can hardly move. The dust can be bad, but you get used to being coated at all times, used to breathing it, used to eating it. It kind of becomes part of your world, and many of us miss it when we come back home.

      It’s a hard place to be for me and many others, both physically and emotionally. It’s a place where things rarely go as you expect (Leave your expectations at home, that’s what they say and they are so right), where it’s easy to become dehydrated, sunburned, injured. It’s easy to feel lost in the massive crowd, overwhelmed by the noise and light and endless stimulation. Each time I’ve gone I’ve ended up having to leave early, because of both physical injury and emotional exhaustion.

      But I will gladly go back. There’s something about that place and the magic that happens there. It’s not for everyone, but those of us who fall in love with it are pretty much forever seduced and always left with a bit of longing for that next burn 🙂

  2. rangewriter says:

    very cool! I know I must enjoy from afar, so thank you!

    • There are certainly moments at the burn when I WISH I was enjoying it from afar. Sometimes the heat and noise and sleep deprivation is just too much. The mood passes, but oh boy there are times. Especially when you have a giant chicken art car full of drunk cheerleaders going up and down the street and blasting “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOOO” at full blast ALL DAY LONG. Oh we hated that chicken car. We tried to shoot it with our ray guns but the cheerleaders just laughed and shook their pompoms at us.

      I am so not making that up 🙂

  3. betunada says:

    wot phunn! and so sorta, eh, portlandia-ish. (i wouldn’t be surprized if fred and (uh, carrie?) make a show or three about it, hm?). thanx for your “report” and photos!

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