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 is a photographer, DJ, engineer and Regional Contact in Seattle, WA. Rites of Passage is his 12th burn. He likes chihuahuas, sushi, open source content management and commerce software and destroying delicate and expensive electronics in a variety of harsh environments. Ask him anything by emailing

8 thoughts on “In Dust We Trust

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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