A city has no future without its children — and that goes for Black Rock City, too. Burning Man’s wee dusty denizens are as much a part of this community as their sunscreen-slathering parents, but they’re not always in full view (unless you park yourself by the trampolines in Kidsville). Photographer Zipporah Lomax wants to change that by capturing BRC’s “littles” in a new book called Dusty PlayGround, which has just five days left to reach its fundraising goal on Kickstarter.
A 15-year Burning Man veteran, Lomax has long loved photography, starting with her own baby pictures. “Even when I was a really small girl, I had a sense that a photo could tell me something about myself that I couldn’t see from the inside,” she says. “They’ve always held this magical quality for me that’s never really gone away.”
As Lomax grew up and became an artist, she stayed deeply connected to kids. Her tiny stature helps her move fluidly among them, but more importantly she finds deep inspiration in the way children think, act and live in the present. “It’s not just kids at Burning Man that are unique for me,” the Portland resident explains. “It’s that they have not yet crafted these storylines about their own worth and their own significance.”
That said, photographing kids at Burning Man makes a ton of sense because “we get to meet them in a place where they already totally exist.” Of course! Kids are naturally playful and carefree and, um, hello, have been rocking that bunny suit every day of the last year.
Lomax’s main charge, then, is doing photographic justice to these sparkling souls. One of her favorite pictures is tentatively set to be the cover (right, below); it’s of a child named Indie whom she photographed with a 135mm long lens.
Compositionally, Lomax always wants a viewer’s undivided attention when looking at her pictures. She achieves this by separating out subjects from their backgrounds, resulting in a very shallow depth of field. It can be a challenging technique, but as long as the eyes are “tack sharp” it feels right.
As for the final product — she’ll be shooting most of the images at this year’s event — Lomax wants the book to feel soft, warm and faded, maybe even a little washed out. Her current fundraising goal allows her to produce a 70-page book, but if she surpasses that, she’d like to aim for 100 pages and eventually more volumes. The money she raises will cover everything she needs to shoot, make and print the book, plus a 2% donation to Burners Without Borders.
The project is a culmination of Lomax’s life’s pursuits and passions, sprinkled with a hefty dose of fairy (playa) dust and something miraculous beyond that. “[Kids at Burning Man] just remind me that there’s nothing to resist out there,” she explains. “They’re not worried about the elements or how they look — they’re just rockin’ it.”
You can help make Dusty PlayGround a reality by donating here. And if you plan to bring your children to Burning Man this year and are interested in connecting with Lomax, she welcomes you to email her before heading out to the playa to make arrangements: kidsofbm at gmail.com
(Photos by Zipporah Lomax)