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Tough Decompression after Burning Man

What is a “Decompression”? That’s challenging to describe to people that haven’t spent over a week in an environment like this. It’s not just the heat and survival-factor; it’s also a bit of a mind-shift. I think many people have experienced this in different ways, and it's not just Burning Man. It’s maybe similar to coming back from a week on an island getaway and getting back into the “real world."

After you're at Burning Man for a few days, your mind kind of slips away into another state of being. I’m not sure how to describe it. And no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the drugs or anything. It’s more about being around 70,000 other artists and creatives who, by default, accept you and are non-judgmental. (Maybe this is where it differs from an island vacation where bronzed pool-boys are serving you margaritas).

Burning Man is very egalitarian, where all are equal and everyone is giving one another gifts all the time. Random people. And back to that non-judgmental thing. From that perspective, it’s perhaps one of most comforting places in the world. You don’t even notice yourself falling into this sort of peaceful state. Imagine, living in a world where no one cared what the heck you did, what your real-life job was, and everyone, even random people, always had a hug at the ready. I mean, who WOULDN’T want to live in a world like that?

And then, immediately after leaving, you get back into the other world… back at the Reno airport were people are upset, stressed, complaining. You post stuff on the internet and then people find something to complain about, something that doesn’t fit with their particular world-view, and they need to let you know about it. Blah, blah, blah, I could give countless examples, you get it. So then, the challenge is how to take all this open-heartedness back with you to the default world and not be beaten down. It kind of reminds me of what we do to kids. They're so open, free, and creative, and society slowly beats it out of them over time. Children at least have 16+ years to decompress, all of us leaving the desert only have a few days!

It was especially hard for me because I had to fly to Florida (INTO THE HURRICANE) to make 48 hours worth of training videos with KelbyOne. And this week I’ve been creating a ton of Aurora HDR 2018 training videos for Windows and Mac before launch. I powered through it, on sheer will, but I never really had the chance to re-integrate. Wow, I don’t even know if I did a decent job explaining anything there, but at least a few meandering thoughts for you. Oh, forget about all that, how about some photos?!? :)

Charon

One of my favorite zoetropes, "Charon" by Peter Hudson, returned this year. I think I saw it first in 2011? I can't remember exactly. It was great to see it again, and this thing is always tough to photograph. Six people come up and randomly pull the ropes to cause a flashing to begin, animating the skeleton Charon crossing the river Styx into Hades. As I was taking this, and I'm not kidding, this tiny older man with stringy grey hair came up to me and growled. "I'm Dr. Toboggin, and I have a degree in psychedelics, would you like to lick the back of my hand?" I actually thought about doing it, but I had to rush over to grab a photo of the temple before it burned down. I'll see you next time, Dr. Toboggin.

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Behind the Shot - Interview with Steve Brazill

A few weeks ago I sat down and talked with Steve Brazill for an episode of Behind the Shot. We discuss an image of mine titled, “Where Jules Verne would perform experiments on animalkind”, as well as consciousness, being present, and little bit of Burning Man!

Check out the full interview with Steve below...

 

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Some more shots from the playa...

Carla and Kristyna, BFF. This is basically just like me and Rene, but we don't hug like this in camp. Well, guys kinda hug when they first see one another, and then a 2nd hug a week later when they part. So, well, it's not like us at all. It's like us if we were girls, I guess. Okay, the more I talk about it, it's actually a really bad analogy. Anyway, this is Carla and Kristyna. They're super-friendly.


A Phoenix rises... I was sorry not to get to see this one burn. That would have been a cool photo! This incredible piece of art was created by Nicholas Palmer who is based in South Lake Tahoe, CA
How amazing is this mask? I don't even know how to Google something like this... I saw this gentleman up on the 2nd floor around the man. All I know is that next year I know what im adding to the packing list! Great job burner, great job. Kudos!


Around 5:30 PM the sun begins to get low enough to cast great angles everywhere. It's still a little warm, so many people still have their fans out to stay cool. I suppose a native American headdress also helps! :) P.s... Before you wind yourself up, she is part native American too!


Here's the man burning on Saturday night. It was quite a wild scene for sure... this is taken from the top of Kalliope, one of our camp's six art cars. After this, the party really went crazy and Paris Hilton even came over to join in the fun. I was SO TIRED after being awake for like 36 hours, about midnight I crawled inside the middle of that big VW bus there (Walter) and curled up with my tripod and fell asleep. My friend Ruvi drove Walter back to the camp with me asleep in the cab there... I woke up like at 3 AM trying to figure out what the heck was going on!


Here's my friend Josh Whiton. It was great to see him out there... we always have super-deep talks... man, no small-talk with this dude, which I like! I first met him a few years ago when he came out to my photo workshop in New Zealand. You can tell he's a pretty zen dude, eh?


This is @mekithappen hanging out and having a happy photo walk. Even though it looks sunny now, not long after this a big rainstorm hit so I jumped on my bike to make it home before my wheels got all gummed up.


Taking a rest in the shade around 3:30 and C. I was looking for one of my friends; he and I love going out to take photos. It's almost impossible to make meetings there because there is no mobile service. I asked this girl where he was. She didn't know. But I asked if I could take her photo so the trip wasn't a total bust, and she said, YES!


I don't know if this enormous statue got enough attention, but she certainly did for me. She glowed from the inside and outside. I made a small pilgrimage there every day; this time I came with my camera. By the way, this piece is called "Tara Mechani" and was created by Dana Albany who is based out of San Fransisco.


A surprising, gnarly sand-twister came over the desert one day. I chased it for about three minutes. I know it sounds crazy, but they are actually fun get close too because the wind whips your bike around and you don't have to pedal... just kind of hang on for the ride with one hand, the other one taking photos!
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