Photographer at This Year’s Burning Man Captures Rain, Mud, and Love

Burning Man 2023 Photos

A photographer who attended this year’s Burning Man says that despite the rain and the mud having a huge effect on the festival, it was still “amazing” and he came back with a unique set of images.

Perry Julien has been going to Burning Man for eight years, but this year the site in the Nevada desert got three months’ worth of rain last Friday, turning it into impassable sludge which made for an altogether different experience — and different photos.

“Once it started raining on Friday you couldn’t move about,” Julien tells PetaPixel. “After two steps, your shoes gain 10 pounds, walking was difficult — driving was impossible.”

Burning Man 2023 Photos

Burning Man 2023 Photos

Despite the muddy conditions, it gave Julien the chance to capture a set of photos different from the usual Burning Man imagery. But, he had to stay close to the camp as moving around was very difficult.

“Given that our camp is ‘beachfront property’ looking out to the playa, I was able to capture wide images and photos of people walking past our camp,” he says.

“It would have been nice to get out and explore a little and capture more photos around the city but that would have placed more stress on the infrastructure so I kept primarily to our camp.”

Burning Man 2023 Photos

Burning Man 2023 Photos
A boot recently abandoned by its owner after it slipped off their foot.

Most of the photos he took were all taken within a few feet of where he was staying. But, Julien was able to get some amusing photos, such as a boot stuck in the mud that had been abandoned by its owner.

“This person was walking and the boot slipped out. They looked at the boot, they looked at their foot, and they said ‘It’s not worth it.’ It wasn’t a posed shot,” he says.

“There weren’t many people sliding in the mud because it isn’t proper mud. We were on the outskirts of the city in the ‘beachfront property’ so for the most part it was just people slogging through. Someone described [the mud] as like ceramics on the wheel.”

Burning Man 2023 Photos
Before the rain came, earlier in the week.

Burning Man 2023 Photos

Burning Man is on a lake bed so when it rains, the ground becomes mucky and muddy. Julien tells Fox 5 Atlanta that every year he and his wife go to the festival they pack a raincoat and boots but hoped never to use them.

Festival organizers asked attendees to conserve water and food while also closing the gates so no other people could arrive as the people there struggled to leave.

Burning Man 2023 Photos
A wedding in Black Rock City. Lucky for the bride and groom it was before the rain.

Burning Man 2023 Photos

However, despite the bad conditions, Julien says that he was heartened to see people working together and helping each other out.

“It was truly inspiring to see how well most people adapted to the circumstances and made the very best of what was an insane circumstance,” he says.

“You know, there were stories of people digging out other people’s cars with their hands. Or bringing people out, or going out of their way to help people who had to get out. It is a great testament to human-kind of what can really happen in these bad situations.”

More of Julien’s work can be found on his Instagram, Facebook, and website.

Image credits: All photos by Perry Julien.