The ethos of Burning Man is based on what are called the Ten Principals. One of the principals of is Gifting; “Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.”
Another principal is Immediacy: “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.
This year, being a photographer, I decided to embody both of these principals. Instead of taking pictures, I would give them.
I bought a Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic instant camera. Each camera pack holds 10 pictures which are purchased 2 packs at a time, each pictures costs about 75 cents to a dollar, depending on where you buy them. I also carried with me a hole punch and gold ribbon pre-cut and tied in a loop. I would take someone’s picture and it if was a great picture, I’d take a second for myself. It takes five minutes or so for the picture to develop and I would take that time to punch a hole in the corner of the picture, sign it and thread the ribbon through the hole, so that the giftee could wear it around their neck if they wanted to. It was also an opportunity to interact with this former stranger in an immediate and intimate way. I also used the camera to capture the people and art of Burning Man in a new (and old) technology.
It was fun trying to push the boundaries of this little camera, trying to capture the same energy and composition I was used to with my DLSR. Of course, the resolution, sharpness and creative options are limited, but what it lacked, it made up with the look on the faces of the participants as that little picture squeezed it’s way out of the camera. Here was a truly unique gift, a physical image of that moment in time. No digital image of this image would ever match it. And, it happened at Burning Man, a place itself with seems to pop out of the desert, is enjoyed for a moment, then disappears again.
Black Rock City, thanks for letting me take your picture!