Burning Man - Matthieu Vautrin

– Sunday evening: we finally arrive at Black Rock City after eleven hours on the road, nine of which were spent traveling the last 100 kilometres.

The first sentence announced to us on arrival: “Welcome home” –

Burning Man is a festival, attended for one week by thousands of people, that could never be described as a normal or regular event. Built every year for it, you will find Black Rock City in the middle of the Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in the United States, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. 

In this crucible of creativity, French photographer Matthieu Vautrin developed this project, where you can enjoy the magic of this never-ending dusted land. “With this series, I wanted to share my vision of Burning Man and to pay tribute to all the artists, all the wonderful people who make the event a unique experience. I just did a minimal post-processing on the images to keep their authenticity, their purity”.


Why Burning Man? What did you want to tell with this project?

I heard a lot of Burning Man these last years, and it seemed so surreal to me that I decided in 2015 that it was time to see this by myself. 


How did you create that style in these images that makes us feel like there’s no end in the land of Burning Man?

I actually just waited for the dust storms to start, rode my bike to reach the arts on the playa and observed the scenes to find the right moment and the right place to shoot. The dust storms did the rest by removing the limit between the land and the sky, the real and the imaginary world. 


BM is such a crazy festival, but what did you discover attending it that you weren’t expecting? 

The kindness of the people I met in Black Rock City.  Everyone is friendly, respectful and ready to help for anything. You can just be yourself and nobody will judge you. Everyone is welcome. The real world have a lot to learn from the burners (the attendees of Burning Man). 


What kind of gear –talking about camera and post processing– did you carry with you in this trip and how was your workflow?

I took my 5DmIII and used a customized rain sleeve, fixed on my lens with some electrical tape, to protect it from the dust. And it worked pretty fine! I never changed the lens during the event. I just did some backup copies each day in the morning (I am quite paranoiac with the idea of loosing my pictures), and did all the post processing back home. It's really not a good idea to use a computer in the desert, unless you want to change it soon!


Which is your favorite picture and why?

The picture of this guy wearing a white suit and riding his bike during a white-out (dust storm). We were entering the playa with my friend Matthieu (another one) for the first time during a storm when we saw this guy coming from nowhere. I stopped him to shoot his portrait, and this is when I saw how magical the pictures look in the dust.


Exploring and shooting the Burning Man is for sure a source of new interesting people to know. Who was the most interesting person you got to know developing this project?

I think the most interesting person I met in Black Rock City was our neighbor Maque. He was taking care of the fireworks on the playa and already had almost 20 Burning Men behind him. He is a very inspiring man and was full of advices for us "virgins" (first-timers in Burning Man). 


Tell us the funniest story you’ve lived there!

Every day when the sun goes down, many burners starts to howl like wolves. Imagine a whole city stopping for a moment and howling... Awooooooo! It's even more crazy than funny!!


Photographer: Matthieu Vautrin  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Vimeo