25 People You'll Meet at Burning Man

On this day last year I was with one of my best friends packing her car for the Burning Man festival. We had our ski goggles, freeze-dried food, costume boxes, and ancient bikes, made new with tassels and silver tape, attached to our newly purchased bike-hitch. We had a weekend with college friends planned, with a week of NEW EXPERIENCES (in all caps) waiting. We were first-time Burners, and we couldn't have been more excited.

Nothing could possibly have prepared us for the sensory overload of that first night out on the Playa, as the grounds of Burning Man are called. I'm not sure how you roll with respect to natural phenomena, but a dried up alkali lake bed in Black Rock City, Nevada looks (and feels) like being on the moon... plus 100-degree heat, gravity, and pop-up art installations that will all burn down over the course of a week. It's alien, and it looks alien. The people, however, are anything but. They are unabashedly, extremely, overarchingly HUMAN, in the most extreme way. This amazing video gives you a feel for a crowd of people that is beyond categorization.

My fellow Burners were some of the kindest, most genuine, most fun individuals I've ever met. No Burn is the same, and no experience can be translated into anyone else's, but I can guarantee you will meet some awesome folks. Below are a small selection of the faces of Burning Man 2013, from builders to sparkle ponies, best friends to complete strangers.

Images: Samantha Jaffe