Burning Man is full of amazing stuff, and for first-timers especially you may be overwhelmed by the urge to constantly carry a camera with you to try to document everything.
Before you do, please consider:
- One of the central concepts of Burning Man is radical self-expression. Many people express themselves in ways they wouldn’t otherwise do in the normal ‘default’ world, and as such may be very hesitant or even outright against people taking pictures of them at Burning Man. Please always ask permission before taking pictures of people.
- You may find that people won’t interact with you as much if you are waving a camera around. Many will actively avoid you. You may not be welcome in some bars or areas if a camera is visible. This especially goes for GoPro style cameras where it’s often hard to tell when they are recording or are worn on people. Wearing a GoPro is a good way to lose a lot of friends quickly.
- Burning Man is one of the most documented events anywhere on earth… Whatever that amazing thing you saw, chances are lots of other people saw it also, and chances are at least one of them is a professional photographer. Unless you’re a real whizz with the camera then someone else probably has a better picture of it than you.
- Be considerate when taking photos, including around the camp where people are likely to be more relaxed. The rule about asking for permission exists within the camp also.
- Never post Burning Man photos of people in public galleries on Facebook or other social media sites. Many people will likely be wearing things that they don’t want the wider world to see. Private galleries for camp members are suggested, and always check with people before posting anything particularly risque or incriminating.
- The playa is very hard on electronics. If you’re bringing a camera then consider sealing it up in a plastic bag. Never change lenses out on the playa (use an RV or something). You’ll probably need to have any decent camera cleaned afterwards.
- Early morning is the best time for photography on the playa, especially of the art. The light is great, the wind is usually calm and there are less people around to yell at you for taking pictures of them.
- By all means do take some photos – we do! However, don’t let it rule your burn. Have a couple of days when you and your friends all agree to leave the cameras behind – you’ll probably enjoy it more!