"Let me tell you about the number 9." Burning Man, 2015 Black Rock City, Nevada

"Let me tell you about the number 9." Burning Man, 2015 Black Rock City, Nevada

The serendipities and synchronicities at Burning Man continue to amaze, enlighten, and inspire me. I’ve been shooting portraits as gifts at Burning Man in search of stories for the Caravan of Souls for 3 years now. Thus far, I’ve shot over 400 portraits and delivered over 3000 images as gifts. It’s a bit tricky to keep track of everything in that magical, dusty place without the conveniences of the “ordinary world”, so I had to find a way to get the images to people who were strangers literally 5 minutes before I photograph and talk with them.

I created a system to make sure I can get the portraits to my new friends. The system I came up with to keep track of the people and their respective series of photos involves me writing down the last 4 numbers of the first photo in the series on a card and having them reference that number in an email after returning home from Burning Man so I can return photos to them. It’s been working well for 3 years now!

I never really know much about a person I walk up to. I just feel drawn to them and figure I’m going to walk up, introduce myself, tell them what I’m doing walking around with a camera, and see what happens. The way I see it, worst case scenario, I meet someone new. Best case scenario, I get a great story, some fun images, and/or find a way to connect that person with someone else I’ve met or know that may be helpful in supporting their endeavors. This was one such great story. 

I walked up to E’mor, introduced myself, started chatting, and then I asked if I could shoot a couple portraits as a gift for he and his girlfriend. The conversation that followed is still etched in my mind as if it happened yesterday. It was such a unique experience, writing about it can’t do it justice. 

After talking a bit and shooting a few portraits, I looked at my camera and wrote down the info for my new friend. The number was 6949. When E’mor looked at those numbers, he smiled and said, “I have to tell you about the significance of these numbers”. I was intrigued. The conversation we’d already had was so wonderful, insightful, and fun, I figured I couldn’t miss this part of it! The first 2 digits were 69. The significance of this is still hard for me to articulate. It’s likely best I share the email he sent me after Burning Man. I’ll never forget this one. 

“Let me tell you about the significance of the number 9.”

I’ve made a few minor edits in terms of structure as English isn’t E’mor’s first language. However, I tried to change as little as possible from the original email for authenticity sake. 

“Hello Scott,”

“I hope this email finds you well and still full of inspiration from the playa.

You stopped me and my beautiful girlfriend for a short photo shoot on the playa and the first 2 digits from the code you gave me (6949) might remind you who I am.” 

“We had this short talk about the number 9 and I promised you I would send you an email with all the details about the number 9…

It took me a wile but, as I promised here it is....

First, in Hebrew (which is one of the oldest languages and also the base for the sacred ‘KABBALAH’), every letter has a numerical value ordered from right to left ...

א-1 ב-2 ג-3 ד-4 ה-5 ו-6 ז-7 ח-8 ט-9 י-10 כ-20 ל-30 מ-40 נ-50 ס-60 ע-70 פ-80 צ-90 ק-100 ר-200 ש-300 ת-400

If you take the word truth in Hebrew (אמת), and break it down to its numerical value, you will get the number 9. (1+40+400=441, 4+4+1=9.)

So, 9 is number of truth…  

Also, the word אמת (truth) in Hebrew made out of the very 1st letter in the Hebrew alphabet (א), the very middle letter (מ), and the very last letter (ת). Cool fact!

Now if you do the same thing to the word ‘life' or ‘alive' (חי), it will break down to the number 18 which, of course, is a multiple of 9!

And, do you remember how long it took your mother (or god) to give you life? Most likely, it was 9 months right ?! ;)

So we believe that the number nine is very strong and powerful

It is also the largest single digit. 

Here is another cool fact about the number 9… take a completely round circle, sign of PERFECTION, and it will have 360 degrees (3+6+0=9)

Cut it to half (180 degrees) and again you’re going to get 9 (1+8+0=9). Cut that to half and so on and you will always get a 9!

It’s not over :) 

Multiply 9 with ANY number you can think of you will always get a multiple of 9 … for example, 9x45674=411,066 / 4+1+1+0+6+6=18 which is 9 x 2 :)

Try it your self with any number you heart desires ...

So, 9 is everywhere!

On the other end, do the same thing to the word LIE (שקר), (the complete opposite from the truth) and you will get 6!

6 and 9 have the same shape, but they’re opposite!!!”

COS: Here comes the significance of the first 2 numbers in the file number I gave E’mor on the Playa for his photos!

“Next, let’s take 6 and 9 and put them together (69). This is the shape and the meaning of the Yin and Yang 

Obviously the truth can not exist with out the lie, the good will not exist with out the bad, and the light will not exist with out the dark, (day and night).

By the way I was born in September (9). ;)

I hope you will find this information useful. I remember you told me you want to write about it … that would be beautiful!

Thank you so much for taking the time to shoot photos for us … it was a strong and unforgettable moment. :)

All my blessings…



"Hi! What would you like to hear?" Burning Man, 2016 Black Rock City, Nevada

"Hi! What would you like to hear?" Burning Man, 2016 Black Rock City, Nevada

Caravansary: The Pope House Bourbon Lounge. Portland, Oregon USA

Caravansary: The Pope House Bourbon Lounge. Portland, Oregon USA