Attn: Burning Man Video Makers (and the People Who Love Them)

(If you’d rather watch and listen to me talk about this, video is here.)

Hey, kids! Grandpa Halcyon here.

I posted my 1st Burning Man photo essay in 1998. And my first video in 2001. My efforts were crude, but there wasn’t much available online at the time. I felt a responsibility to share the magic that changed my life…but also conflicted because I knew it needed to be protected, too.

Today, there are over 15 million results for “Burning Man” on YouTube.

Most of them are AWESOME!
Face it, BRC is a goldmine for epic footage.
You can put a GoPro on a pole and capture magic.
So, since you are making such amazing stuff, let’s take it to the next level…

2 Requests:

I have 2 important requests for everyone making videos. (Or a message for you to pass on to people who make videos.)

1) Avoid falling into the “Best Party! Hottest People!” genre.

If you are a newbie, it is easy to be distracted by “RAVES & BOOBIES!” It is tempting to be seduced by the people that fall into the “traditionally beautiful” category. If you are a pro, you are probably conditioned by clients to make your product as sexy as possible. Consider that your client is the entire Burning Man community. Show everyone’s sexy.

Try to balance your coverage with the deeply beautiful people who might not fit “magazine cover” standards. And show more of the city than Robot Heart at sunrise. Burning Man is a city of Radical Inclusion, and when you make a video where most the people look like European models, it feeds into the bad “Coachella in the Desert” stereotypes. (If you think Black Rock City *is* Coachella in the desert, then I urge you to deepen your experience and allow the less-flamboyant magic of the city to touch your spirit and change your life. Then share *those* things.)

2) Mention the 10 Principles!

Trying to capture Burning Man without mentioning the 10 Principles is like doing a photo shoot of your girlfriend and not including her face. Or introducing your girlfriend to your family but not letting her talk. If you don’t yet understand why the 10 Principles are what makes the magic possible, then study up. Way too many people arrive in Black Rock City thinking it is a “party for their bucket list.” The misunderstandings of what is happening in the Burning Man culture is partially due to two-dimensional “boobs and bass” videos. Don’t be a part of the demise of something great.

It would be ideal to show examples of Gifting or talk about the Principles. At the very least, mention the 10 Principles and link to the official blog (or my Tips & Tricks Videos) in your Description. (You can even do that with existing videos in the descriptions and comments!) Let your art be a GIFT for the community and help us all with the acculturation process.

3) Bonus: Credit the Art.

If you are blown away by the 10 minutes you spent enjoying and capturing a piece of art, think about the 10 months of labor and immense expense that artist or team put into it. It would be so cool if we started to feature the art and artists on pedestals as much as we feature go-go dancers on top of speakers. (Nothing wrong with hot people dancing on top of platforms! I used to be one of those people, sonny-boy! We just need balance.

P.S. There are MANY great examples of videos who are doing the things I suggest. Please recommend good ones in comments!

I am not an employee of Burning man. Just an enthusiastic Participant, like you. Check out all of my Tips & Tricks videos like #31 “Gifting” and #16 “Rangers”

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

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