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The Darkroom

Baltimore photographer Erin Douglas' search for diversity at Burning Man

Lloyd Fox
The Baltimore Sun

Erin Douglas grew up in Baltimore and enrolled in her first photography class while in high school. Although her finance degree landed her a job in New York, her life long passion for photography would later bring her back to Maryland. After being honored with the Emerging Artist Award at Artscape in 2015, she decided to make a career out of her love of photography.

In 2017, Erin was gifted a ticket and made the trek to Black Rock Desert for her first Burning Man experience. During the annual week-long event, thousands of people gather to create a pop-up city called Black Rock City. The city is dedicated to art, self-expression and community among other things.

While at her first burn, she realized there was a lack of diversity among the people who attended. She decided to go back again this year to work on a project to photograph people of color and to tell their stories. “Taking on this project forced me out of my comfort zone,” said Erin.

Keeping her camera clean while dealing with the full days and nights of dust was Erin’s biggest problem. She admits that she didn’t do enough homework on how to deal with the issue, but also believes the dust helped create some of her most cherished photos.

One of Erin’s most memorable moments was when people gathered for a group photo that she had planned to shoot one evening. She said what brought tears to her eyes was that she told many people about the shoot almost four days prior to the photo session and many of them cared enough to not only remember, but to show up for the photo.

Erin plans to exhibit her work from Burning Man in the near future.

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