2009 was my sixth year out. It was a wonderful and amazing week, wind and dust notwithstanding. Attendance was down by over ten percent this year — a first in the festival’s 24-year history — which made for a smaller and somewhat more intimate event. There was also a sense among many I spoke with that the vibe was more low-key this year. That said, much of the art was world class, the performances first-rate, the outlandish fashions and silly costumes unforgettable, and the people of Black Rock City, well, more beautiful than ever.
One of the highlights of this year’s event was a small media gathering with, among others, Burning Man founder and director Larry Harvey. Always the man of ideas, he offered his thoughts on how the event has grown over the past quarter century and how it has come to embody a set of unique social, cultural and above all civic values. In his inimitable way, Larry likes to remind us that Burning Man is nothing if not a visionary experiment, one that can guide and inspire us to create stronger and more vibrant communities. (For more on this, see Five Things Cities Can Learn From Burning Man, a video clip on Time.com.)
It was an outstanding year for photography. As in previous years, I shot all the images digitally with Canon cameras — a 5D and a 20D — using a variety of lenses (a 24-70mm f/2.8 L, a 70-200mm f/2.8 L and a handful of others). It was my fourth year out with the 5D and my fifth with the 20D.
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Sunday morning at Center Camp. Photo by Jonathan Clark.