In Dust We Trust

“Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten.”
— Neil Gaiman

We love to hate the dust. It gets into everything, it sticks to anything. What it touches is marked for the remainder of it’s  significantly shortened lifespan. I believe we ingest a lot more of it than we imagine. Fighting it — believe me, I’ve tried — is useless.

But I find that when I quit fighting and embrace the dust, and I mean truly become one with it and of it and in it, it becomes almost impossible to become actually dirty. And my camera gets a magical Shield of Immunity against playa, and so I go out and shoot what the dust reveals.

Hawaii CORE project

Dusty Couple

“Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself”
— Phillip Pullman

The Temple of Transition


Dusty Ride


Dusty Stroll


Sea of Dust


“A man’s very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life.”
— Oscar Wilde

Morning Meditation


They’re going to burn the Trojan Horse in a bit. Gotta go shoot that for sure. As always, more pics on my flickr stream and you can bet I’ll post more as soon as I can.







About the author: Michael Holden

Michael Holden

Michael Holden is a photographer from Seattle, WA. He has successfully avoided having a playa name for 16 years. He likes chihuahuas, sushi, fast RAM, cheap hard drives and prime lenses. Ask him anything by emailing

8 Comments on “In Dust We Trust

  • joe says:

    the guy above reminds me of Islamic prayer, although the hands are not quite right and he does not appear to be facing east/southeast toward Mecca. or maybe he is. Or maybe whatever. Islam is a very cool religion that seems to get a bad rap in this country. It is very organized and has a beautiful prayer ritual. The gesticulating combined with the chanting allows for a concentration and singleness of purpose that helps funnel the meditative mind towards the Holy. Or maybe that is way too deep and/or nonsensical. I obviously should be on the playa instead of watching the torrential rains at home. Appreciate the pics immensely. Keepem coming. ciao

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  • OpinionsToGo says:

    Beautiful, beautiful images! Thank you for sharing them!

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  • NDK says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Lovely contribution for those of us that could not attend in physical form. But we were there through the net.

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  • debbie delong says:

    I lost my green and white disposable camera on the playa on Fri when I was in the bike parade. The camera is not valuable, but the photo’s I took with my family are priceless to me. Hope someone finds it and we can connect. Thanks

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  • i love the idea that once you embrace the dust, you become immune to it. there’s a deeper lesson in there somewhere.

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  • pissyrabbit says:

    The best part of the dust is that some time later, in January, February, March you will pull something out of a closet and it will smell like playa and you will be in heaven.
    Somehow, the washing machine can never get rid of that smell and I for one, am grateful.

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  • Michaelangela says:

    No religion is “Cool”. it is all dogma. The only truth is from dust we came to dust we will all return!

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  • Garancelot says:

    Thanks for posting the Dusty Couple pic above. I am the guy with the funky shoes I made in the pic with Kelly G. We had just met in a dust storm by the Man at sunset and became instant friends who have been in touch off the playa. I love the caption that reads:

    “Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself”
    – Phillip Pullman

    I’d like to add that burningman is a place where we come away feeling humbled and inspired.

    – Garancelot

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