Celeste van Rooyen - Photography

Burning Man 2013: MY BURN

Burning Man 2013 – The continuous city of energy




‘How was your burn?’

Something that I heard a lot at the end of the experience; and then the excitement in their eyes when they hear I’m a first timer. As if the unknown is still the best timeframe.


Before knowing anything about Burning Man and whilst starting my research in America, I classified the world in two groups: those who know about it and those who didn’t.

“Then, after I decided to go, I started narrowing my investigate how others, that have not been there, perceive burning man – obviously from media and friends maybe (knowing I would go with a clean canvas mindset and would find out for myself; apply it to where I am in life etc.)

Then, when people heard I was going, so many showed that they have been dreaming about an opportunity like this – and that is when I really got excited, realizing that it was meant to be.

“So what is Burning Man?”

People asked me: “Is it a camp? Is it a music festival? One big party in the desert? This is where they burn the man?”

The burn is different for everybody and those regular Burners confirm that their burn changes from year to year.   All depending who you area and where you are in your life.

The Atlantic wrote: “The Man burns during the Burning Man 2013 arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, on August 31, 2013. The federal government issued a permit for 68,000 people from all over the world to gather at the sold out festival, which is celebrating its 27th year, to spend a week in the remote desert, cut off from the outside world to experience art- form a temporary city — a self-reliant community populated by performers, artists, free spirits, and more. Last week, an estimated 68,000 people came to Burning Man 2013 from all over the world to express themselves.“


Burning Man is all of these but none of it; and so much more.


On top of the music, burning the city down, activities it provided, FOR ME it was mostly the art, beauty, never-ending new to experience and the constant giving that created this untouchable atmosphere.

I’ve been to most ‘festivals’ all over the world and this is just so much more – the people make it. I’ve heard from so many about a south Africa burn but cannot imagine it to be like this.

All of this creates energy that give you reason for living for a while and can fill your artistic soul alive and create that content feeling for a bit longer.


As I am an individual, I loved how everybody went about expressing themselves (Later I did not even notice the nudity anymore). I could write a whole blog and magazine just from the fashion and accessories that was portrayed.


It’s more than a normal desert – there are constant, unexpected sandy salty storms.

  1. You have to cover your head (have an umbrella/hat etc.);
  2. you need to cover your feet with special shoes;
  3. it’s hot, your going to wear as little as possible (nipple stickers sooo awesome);
  4. You need to have transport to move around (art car or bicycle with some shade);
  5. You need to have your own cup at all times;
  6. You need to cover your eyes from sand and the sun;
  7. You need to live somewhere – might as well make your space super attractive

so why not create all these things you wear and make it interesting –

and as you can see in the images – with these necessities made unique, everybody was in some sort of ‘costume’ and the ideas people came up with was so refreshing and contributed to the whole of the experience!!!!

There are no reason at all not to be who you are or whomever you want to be – free!

As Denitsa was saying: ‘everybody is beautiful’!!

It was the essence of giving that stood out above all the highlights of burning man for me-
away with those horrid personalities that i know all too well *I call these people: The Negatives.
- those personalities that just want to suck up your energy with their drama’s and problems, that can only take, never put someone else first, and use without giving.
Here giving was used to reach out to others and meet new people and just put a smile on someones face (without wanting to receive) thus, create this indescribable energy.
There is a reason why money cannot buy you anything here (but coffee and ice)
Here you had no reason not to be approachable, if your happy you give -
and im not talking about the way some guys are wanting to give and use the opportunity to get into your pants ‘because its burning man!” sad that i had to came across that.
  • People were giving food at small stalls here and there at moments where I needed it the most – appreciatiton!!
  • open bars also made my heart happy and so that those angels spraying me with water to cool off
  • (on the corner of my street there were the most wonderful contraption – In morning i could not wait to wake up to this: a stand that vibrate under your feet, spray you for a while, calming voice and wording, and blow you dry with a slight breeze)
  • stalls that provide you with choices of clothing – or you can bring and swop clothing
  • people that share their pop up showers
  • a guy that made a queue at the toilets just for women with spray etc.
  • little unexpected creative things that enforce happiness are everywhere
A little black book of places to visit, events, music, and interesting burners were provided beforehand
all this created and contributed to one big awesome…….

My blog’s images is split up amongst categories like:

  • The people
  • The art cars
  • The architecture
  • The burn
  • The art the performance
  • The Barbie death camp
  • The lamplighters
  • Bunny run

The wedding (still to come) but yes, as a photographer, I shot (and created the bouquet) one of the 47 weddings that took place at one of the churches/temples.

I went to Burning Man via Vegas, as I thought:  I’m in the area, I might as well see a city I’ve never been to before.

I flew from Vegas to Reno (busses where out of the question, a car to rent too expensive) and from Reno I pre-booked the special bus service that go to and from Burning Man.  What is good about the bus service is that you enter the camp immediately – no waiting in the queues of 6 – 7 hours to enter the grounds.  I left via San Francisco and it was so funny to spot all the fellow burners afterwards with their dust stained bags.  That magic dust sticks!  White vinegar came to my rescue for the alkaline.


Leave your comment – I particularly want to know which image you liked or what was YOUR BURN all about?  Your view.

During my time there with some of the burners I shot, I asked the same question – ‘What do you live for? What do you look forward to in life or work and save your money for?’ As recently I’ve felt like a bit of change and want to know what keep other’s going.


The answer was unanimous, “Next year’s burn!!”– and now I understand why.


Next year Ill do things different:  better planning, less direct sun, more air conditioning, look after myself better with eating and sleeping, go all out artistically and make more time to see more, meet more people and give more.  Take more pics and video (as a photographer you want to enjoy without the camera but you also want to document – a struggle of an artist for all of us – but happy I have made some memories to share and enjoy afterwards and even happier to see others’ memories and see how they documented and what they experienced…..

Who wants to rent an RV with me next year?

Burning man – you might not always get what you want but for sure you will what you need.  It should be a way of living EVERY DAY!




























I met Princess Trooper on my second day – she was trying to do so many things just hours before her wedding – I made and suprise her with a bouquet and also decided to shoot some shots for them (she thought I was a florist and did not expect a photographer – a wedding photographer to rock up at their wedding). My way of giving:  photography.  Their theme was timelessness; and how awesome all their details.  I heard there was over 47 weddings taking place that week and of course I can see why.  I would love to do it there!  I wished I could have experienced and see EVERYTHING at burning man but it’s impossible.




THE ART – the performance

I was using the green bikes on the playa – a limited amount of bikes, owned by burning man, are there for you to use if you see one.

They are as scares as chicken teeth (Not sure if anyone else knows that saying – directly translated from Afrikaans).  Only later I heard of burners renting bikes beforehand and picking them up at the playa.  I also met so many burners whose bikes got stolen.

One whole day I was without a bike – like everything in life: if you change your transport you experience a different world on the same route.  I walked and discovered things I would never have discovered if on the bike.  I kept following interesting things and with sunset I saw these two ‘performaners’ come crawling from the desert to their tent.  Their friend explained to me that this was a portrayal of the agony and pain of the world – (apparently in New York there are shows copying the shows of Japan where people show the pain and the affects of the nuclear incident).  This was based on that.





8 comments to Burning Man 2013: MY BURN

  • Vanessa Geens

    Brilliant feature Chica!!! Well done. Great images and tour.

  • ryan bowman

    The SPACESHIP pic was awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwesome… cant believe they burnt it…hahaha Burning(SPACE)man

  • One guy was explaining to me out of the blue – during the burn – in such beautiful descriptive words how he feels a bond to walk with thousands of people around the burn – becoming one.

  • Kristine

    My favourite – zombie Barbie! :) Amazing ‘live’ photos…so much almost tangible emotion! It feels like I was there myself!…Gonna share it if u dont mind ;)

  • WOW! what a fabulous collection of photos.
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for such beautiful bouquet and of course these wedding photographs are memories that the Spirit Viking and I will cherish forever.
    Dusty hugs :)
    Princess Trooper & Starkoar Bele

  • Thomas

    Awesome ceecee! So many beautiful pictures!!! I think you found the right words to share this experience :)

  • Brian

    Look like your kinda place, photos are class , hope ye had fun !!!!!!

  • eugen

    Mag ek vloek? Want as ek mog vloek sou ek se: fantasmorogoriese Vorken awesome fotos!

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