One of my most rewarding creative projects has been photographing the Burning Man festival each year, something I’ve been doing since 2004. Over the years, I’ve built up a rather extensive portfolio of images from the event. Some of them appear in a new book, in several recent magazine spreads, and as part of an upcoming exhibit at Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
Rachel Bowditch’s book On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man, recently published by the University of Chicago Press/Seagull Books, includes several of my photos from the festival. Bowditch is a theater director, performer, and longtime Burning Man participant who teaches at Arizona State University.
In the book, she makes the case that Burning Man can be seen as a contemporary galaxy of happenings, a revival of the ancient Roman Saturnalia, a site for rehearsals of utopia, and a secular pilgrimage. As the festival continues to grow, she says, it’s likely to create new paradigms for performance, installation art, community, and invented rituals that bridge ancient traditions to the twenty-first century.
A recent issue of the French magazine Folie Douce (published in both French and English) features ten of my photographs, along with an essay, on Burning Man. The festival is described as “an artistic utopia that is more than a little out there.” The text is a bit goofy, and not entirely accurate, but I was very happy with the selection and layout of the photos.
I also have two images from Burning Man in a recent issue of Vanity Fair and a double-spread in a forthcoming issue of Marie Claire. Other magazines featuring photos from the event include Elle Décor and Aïshti. In addition, my photos are included in a new 2011 calendar and commemorative photo book, recently published by the Burning Man organization. For more information, visit the Burning Man Marketplace.
You’ll find my image “Lovers” on the cover of the Summer 2010 issue of Common Ground. It’s not the first time I’ve worked with the magazine. The editors featured about a dozen of my photos in a retrospective from Burning Man 2009 last fall, as well as a portrait of Burning Man founder Larry Harvey in the Summer 2009 issue.
I’m excited to have a number of my photographs included in a special exhibition called “Living” opening next month at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art outside Copenhagen. More details on the museum’s website: www.louisiana.dk
Finally, if you haven’t seen Creative Holly’s wonderful color blog, you’re in for a treat. Holly is a graphic designer with a great eye for color. For a recent post, she asked me to pick out five of my favorite shades of Burning Man and to say a few words about each one. I sampled the colors from some of my more popular Burning Man images. It was an honor and a kick to be a part of her project.
Update, July 5, 2011:
My photo of the fabulous Jesster Canucklehead appears on the cover of Common Ground magazine this month. The summer issue features a preview of Burning Man 2011, along with a lovely photoessay from Ales Prikryl.
You can view the complete issue online at: http://www.sopdigitaledition.com/commonground/
More than a dozen of my photos also appear in the current issue of The Outlook Magazine, China’s leading culture and lifestyle publication. You won’t be able to glean much from the article unless you happen to read Chinese, but you can always enjoy the photos. Go to: http://www.theoutlookmagazine.com/3202/
I’m back from a short trip to Death Valley, a favorite getaway, a place I love to go to quiet the nerves and tame the ego. The place has that effect because it makes you feel inconsequential, helpless, and out of place. It also happens to be a place of spellbinding beauty. Here are a handful of photos from the trip.
In some parts of Death Valley, you feel as if you have the whole place all to yourself.
The play of sun and shadow at Zabriski Point is mesmerizing.
Furnace Creek is an otherworldy oasis in the heart of Death Valley.
Badwater was bone dry this year.
One of the curious moving rocks at Racetrack Playa.
It was my first time at the Eureka Sand Dunes, a magnificent place where time seems to stand still.
Here I am climbing one of the Eureka dunes. (Photo by D.H.)
As Oslo readies for the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony tomorrow, the city is full of luminaries. Most of them fall in the category of international celebrities, politicians and dignitaries of various kinds. But tonight I was taken in by a different kind of luminary, the sort that illuminates your path on a cold night.
My Norwegian friend had invited me over for dinner. He lives in a quiet hamlet on a peninsula a half-hour’s boat ride from downtown Oslo. As we came up to his house, his wife had put out candles to light our way. They were protected from the freezing winds by lanterns made entirely of ice.
“Art in an Ephemeral Age” is the theme of the Institute of Art and Ideas’ annual Art Festival at Hay in England, and among the many highlights this year is a look at Burning Man, perhaps the world’s preeminent gathering of ephemeral artists. Several discussion forums will tackle the subject of temporal art and performance artist Sarah Appleby will offer her own inimitable take on Burning Man.
Although I’m not able to attend the event, I was invited to exhibit some of my Burning Man photographs at the Globe, a converted church in Hay on Wye, which serves as the festival’s primary venue. The exhibit features over two dozen of my photos covering the last five years of the Burning Man festival. The show runs from November 13-28. More details here.
The Jesusita Fire took almost everyone by surprise when it began on the afternoon of May 5. It’s the third major wildfire in Santa Barbara in just nine months, and many here are still recovering from the devastating Tea Fire last November.
The blaze is still out of control and details are sketchy, but we know that dozens of homes have already been lost. I witnessed some of them go up in flames myself before being forced out by the authorities.
Here are some of my photos:
This image was taken from Painted Cave Road at 3:30 p.m. on May 5, just a couple of hours after the fire began. The trail of the smoke shows the typical sundowner pattern — blowing across the city and out to sea, just as the devastating Gap and Tea fires did last year.
The Jesusita Fire burns in the hills above Santa Barbara, California. Taken from Camino Cielo in the late afternoon on May 5, 2009. The small black dot in the center is a fixed wing aircraft surveying the hotspots.
Smoke and ash darken the sky above Santa Barbara as night falls on day one of the fire.
On the evening of the first day, the fire was still confined to a relatively small area of less than 200 acres, as seen in this long exposure taken from Elings Park.
Thick smoke drifts out over the city on the second day of the fire, as seen in this shot from Las Tunas Road on the Riviera.
The flames rage in the hills perilously close to Santa Barbara’s historic mission. It seems fitting that local firefighters and police would use the spot as an ad hoc staging ground.
Santa Barbara County firefighters gather at the mission to plan their next assault as the fire continues its spread east and south toward the city.
Fanned by strong winds, flames and smoke wreak havoc in the densely populated neighborhood above Foothill Road, just west of Mission Canyon Road.
Huge flames ravage the foothills above Mountain Drive.
Putrid smoke and ash choked the skies and obscured the sun, bathing the city in an eerie red light.
A chopper dumps water over a structure burning on Mountain Drive.
Intense sundowner winds scatter and fan the flames, as seen in this photo taken from Stanwood Drive.
The size and sheer force of the inferno was staggering.
A terrifying firestorm erupts in the hills above Mission Canyon.
A palm tree scorched in the recent Tea Fire stands on a now vacant lot on Conejo Road, as smoke and ash from the new Jesusita Fire darken the skies above.
The eastern edge of the Jesusita Fire was still burning out of control late on Wednesday night. This photo was taken on Ortega Ridge Road in Summerland.
Strong offshore winds continued to fan the flames of the Jesusita Fire above Santa Barbara, as seen in this image taken at Elings Park.
Intense smoke and ash covered the city of Santa Barbara as the Jesusita Fire continued to burn on several fronts on Wednesday night.
Relatively calm winds during the morning and afternoon of day three kept the Jesusita Fire confined mainly to the mountains near Cathedral Peak.
As the afternoon wore on, the winds intensified and fanned the flames westward.
A dark plume of drift smoke could be seen all the way to Ventura and beyond. This photo was taken from Carpinteria at 6:30 p.m. just as the sundowner winds kicked up and stoked the fires anew.
Strong early evening winds fanned the flames and sent black smoke into the skies above Santa Barbara. This image was shot from Ortega Hill at sunset.
As the sun set on the third day of the Jesusita Fire, the sky turned ominously red and ash started falling like snowflakes. The palmettos on Channel Drive can be seen bending in the strong wind.
By 9:00 o’clock on Thursday, the fire was raging out of control across a wide swath of the Santa Barbara foothills, from San Roque Canyon to the east all the way to Highway 154 to the west.
The Jesusita Fire continued to burn in Santa Barbara on Friday, though lower temperatures and relatively calm winds kept the flames confined mainly to the hills above the city. After sunset, the skies were still dark with drift smoke and ash, as seen in this image taken from Butterfly Beach.
By Friday evening, the Jesusita Fire had consumed 8,400 acres and cut a swath some five miles wide from the ridges above Montecito all the way to Painted Cave.
The Jesusita Fire continued to rage in the hills above Montecito on Friday evening.
Flames from the Jesusita Fire lit up the evening sky above Santa Barbara on Friday evening, as seen in this image taken at the Andree Clark Bird Refuge.
Another personal favorite, this one of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California. The three small islands in the foreground make up Anacapa, the large island behind it is Santa Cruz, and in the distance are Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands. The image was taken through the windshield of a Cessna on a return flight from Catalina Island with my pilot friend Sam. A special day.
A personal favorite, this one shot at the Heat the Street Faire in San Francisco, October 2008.