Photographers' Blog

The Burning Man experience

Black Rock Desert of Nevada

By Jim Urquhart

I’ve been here three times and I still don’t know where I have been.

I don’t mean to sound whimsical but I still don’t know how to truly describe Burning Man. What began three years ago as idle conversation with some editors has brought me to the Black Rock Desert of Nevada for a week for the third time in the heat of the summer.

The two previous years I have spent my whole time on the desert floor working and creating photos for Reuters.

In both years I heard from a small number of burners that they felt I could never do Burning Man justice because I was working. That statement has lingered with me a bit.

Photojournalists are granted front row seats to some of the most cherished events in the world. But much of our experience is framed through the viewfinder due to the responsibilities of being an objective observer and the pressures of working on constant deadline to deliver the best photo reports possible. We rarely get to feel the joy or despair of being a participant.

Welcome home to Burning Man

By Jim Urquhart


Photographer Jim Urquhart poses at Temple of Juno at Burning Man. Photo courtesy of Brian Erzen

As I write this I am sitting in my little camping trailer the morning after completing my Burning Man 2012 coverage. I am exhausted, a bit dehydrated, sore, my hair has become matted like dreadlocks from the combination of sweat and fine dust and I reek so horribly of body odor that I can make the sense of shame blush. But I am so aware of myself, I am alive and thriving. This is why I love what I do and the opportunities and experiences that it makes possible.

Okay, maybe not so aware of myself (I just fell asleep with my finger on the tab button after writing that first paragraph).