Julian Cash is the author / photographer / creative mastermind behind the book, The People of Burning man. And if anyone knows who the people of Burning Man are, it’s Julian. He has been going to the event for over a decade, and in that time, he has experienced all the weird, wild, and wonderful things that the festival has to offer.
For those of you not in-the-know, Burning Man is an annual festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, where the focus is not on Music, but on art, radical self expression, and the creation of new and unique culture. Sounds crazy? It is. You’ll find everything from fire-breathing mutant vehicles, to towering spiritual temples, to magically illuminated art installations. These things are all important parts of what makes Burning Man so special to so many, but the thing that kept Julian coming back all those years was the people.
Burning Man can be a bit of a sensory overload at times. You’ll often feel like you’re drowning in a sea of astonishment, and the spectacle of things sometimes outshines the people themselves — but Julian’s book helps to shine the spotlight back on the people who make Burning Man what it is. Jackie Cash, Julian’s wife, writes on the book’s website, “Julian couldn’t bear to let these people, their personalities and faces, go unrecorded. He fell in love with them.”
And so he photographed them.
Over the course of 10 years, Julian and Jackie built an amazing collection of portraits that helps to show the diverse and creative spirit of Burning Man. The resulting book is as beautiful as it is enlightening. The intimate portraits give us a glimpse into the lives of some of the people who make Burning Man possible. It showcases the incredibly diverse mix of people who consider themselves Burners – and there really are all types. Some are covered in body paint or dressed as monsters or animals or pink-fur-covered cuddle-creatures. Some are walking art projects or political statements, and others are freak-shows, meant to disarm and disturb the bystander. Burners call it radical self-expression — a form of unabashed creativity that you’ll only find at Burning Man.
Whether you’re a nostalgic Burner yourself, or just curious about what Burning Man really is, You’ll enjoy the whimsical, weird, freaky, furry, and funny portraits that Julian has captured in The People Of Burning man.
Julian struggled to find a publisher for his book, probably because they felt it was too edgy or not mainstream enough for mass consumption. But, as Julian says, “Despite the copious nudity, it’s very tasteful.” And he’s right. Sure, there is an element of sexy and a dash of dirty in this book (and at Burning Man) but the book, as well as the event, is more of a celebration of the creativity and the relentlessly unapologetic weirdness of the human spirit.