The People of Burning Man

/ MediaQuire / The People of Burning Man have arranged for an interpreter, Julian “Supersnail” Cash, to express their thoughts and beliefs in picture form. These have been captured and beautifully expressed through striking images in The People of Burning Man: Portraits of Revolutionary Spirits (August 2011) by author and photographer Julian Cash.

As you may know, the famously surreal annual festival has sold out for the first time in its history. This lavishly illustrated photobook shows you why.

The People of Burning Man is a dazzling array of costumes and body paint, makers and performers, manifestos and magic, from the massive cultural event that attracts thousands of new participants every year. The joy of collaboration and spirit of radical self-expression infuse every color-soaked page of this magnificent hardcover volume.

This is not your typical Burning Man book. Members of the extended Burning Man community raised over $35k in a stupendously successful Kickstarter campaign to get this book to come to life. You can get a visual sneak peek of its magic by watching its vibrant, colorful book trailer here:

“In 1997,“ Says Cash. “I was a success in the tech field, doing lucrative work in a cubicle farm. I knew I was losing my life force, but I didn’t know how much of myself I had lost until I was contrasted with the people of Burning Man. I felt like the world needed to see this – the life in their eyes. I was inspired to bring my home-made photo studio out into the desert, and began shooting white-background portrait photos.”

The most compelling images are a result of Cash asking “How would you like the world to be different? What image might communicate and help to bring about that change?” Thus each portrait is a collaboration that is meaningful to its subject, whether promoting the value of silliness, or plumbing the depths of grief. What emerges is an aggregate portrait of a people. Which brings us back to our earlier point. The people of Burning Man have spoken, and this book is the chosen emissary to bring their messages to the world. The topics chosen by the participants, such as the perils of personal debt, the rat race, loss of personal liberties, were often prescient of the troubles that the world would soon face. The images of healing, sexuality, love, the value of playfulness and joy may yet predict our shared future.

“Most of us tend to limit ourselves,” says Cash, “censoring who we are to fit in. These images help to counter that. We grow through seeing how free people can be. The key is being willing to be seen as ourselves, unabashed. This type of freedom is common at Burning Man and rare elsewhere. This book was created to show what life can be like when you do what feeds your life force.”



Julian is the photographer of The People of Burning Man book. The book is very much a collaboration of many almost surreally skilled and wondrous friends.

Since a very early age Julian was immersed in the most creative of cultures. Julian spent his youth in Greenwich village in New York City, a commune in Middleburg New York, and in Woodstock New York.

His father Sydney Cash is a sculptor. His mother Loree is a painter, children’s book author, and photographer. His sister Megan Cash is an illustrator and children’s book author. His wife and love of 16 years, Jackie Cash, is a writer and cartoonist. She has been an integral collaborator in Julian’s photography career.

At age three Julian was at the Woodstock festival. He appears in the movie about the festival in several places. At age 9 Julian and his sister were featured in a fashion shoot on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. At age 10, the San Francisco Bay Guardian showed Julian operating a small business with his sister. By age 12 he began his photography career. Julian shot, developed, and printed self portraits and photographs of his friends posing and playing. “I still take the same type of photos that I took when I was 12”, says Julian. “It’s the technique that I’ve spent my life refining.”

Growing up, Julian was heavily influenced by five professional photographers who were all close friends of the Cash family. Julian took photographs throughout his young life. Julian attended Rochester Institute of Technology, which has one of the finest photography departments in the country. Julian moved from New York to San Francisco after college.

Julian is also a professional photographer, Julian is an illustrator, a cartoonist, a computer programmer, and very much enjoys project management.



Jackie & Julian Cash