I was at Burning Man for 5 days this year, camped at Esplanade & A (Honey Puddle). One of our neighbors was the incomparable Death Guild Thunderdome, and as in 2017, I took the vast majority of my photographs during two nights of fighting there. Shooting action shots with a manual focus is a really fun challenge. I have a very shallow depth of field and I shot wide open, so my photos are a little soft, but enjoy!
Thunderdome truly is one of my favorite things about Burning Man. I’ve made a lot of friends there over the years, and I’m always struck by just how hard they work to make an incredible experience for everyone. The fights happen each night from 9pm to midnight – and every member of the camp shows up in full costume, every night, having effectively coordinated a SHOW for an audience that’s allowed to participate. They have an opening speech, Diva Marisa sings opera, and then they judge the fights (the participants in the fights themselves are simply volunteers who show up to fight). Each member in the dome is important – from people hyping up the crowd, making sure people climbing the dome don’t fall in or drop things, to the riggers who get the fighters ready, the pullers who pull the fighters back to crash into each other, the officiant who judges the fights, the water bearers who keep people hydrated, the medics who make sure fighters are okay, and each of these jobs is done by more than one person – people switch out in shifts. They are a well-oiled machine who create incredible entertainment for anyone who comes by, and it’s absolutely impressive. They’re also some of the sweetest people ever, and I’m honored to know so many of them.
One of them, Sid Nicholson, is a dear dear friend of mine, who, after Burning Man, was in a terrible accident where someone hit his motorcycle. He started a GoFundMe to raise money for the medical bills, and I wanted to share a link here, in case anyone wants to contribute. He’s been doing Thunderdome for 20+ years. And trust me – Thunderdome is truly his greatest love and passion.
This album starts with Thunderdome photos – the end of the album is a few shots from my camp and then a little photo project I did while out on the playa. My friend Seth lost his wife a few weeks before the Burn, and he was not attending Burning Man, but I wanted to leave some items in the Temple to represent her. You’ll see two pictures of her, as well as Fight Club which was a book she loved. But I also took a little blue elephant (his favorite color and animal) and a little purple turtle (hers) and I brought them around Burning Man and took pictures of them with people, in front of the art, and otherwise around. I brought the figures home – I’ll be sending them to Seth to keep. I just wanted them to have an adventure together in spirit.
Anyway, here are my shots! Please tag your friends!
For those camera-inclined who want to know what I shot with: it was a Sony a7s with a Zhongyi Speedmaster 50mm 0.95 Full Frame Manual Focus Lens.
Here’s the link to the album on Facebook!