"Bonnaroo is a commitment. You don't just go to Bonnaroo, you immerse yourself in the experience," New York-based photographer Ryan Mastro explained in an email to The Huffington Post.
People love their music festivals with a zealous, almost cult-like fervor. There are the Coachella diehards, the Burners, the Lollapaloozites and, of course, the Bonnaroovians. Every year, like-minded individuals of all ages and backgrounds grow out their facial hair, gather their hemp bikinis, pack up their multicolored bandana collection and head to the famed 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, for four days of music and so much more.
For Mastro, the power of Bonnaroo extends far beyond the quality of the lineup. "I feel we have become disconnected as a society and people are craving personal connections," he explained. "Bonnaroo is a community of people who have come together for a chance to reconnect with humanity and 'radiate positivity.' The result is an accepting and open environment, where everyone feels comfortable to love and live freely."
For years, Mastro documented the magic of Bonnaroo in a relatively straightforward fashion -- photographing the bands. He felt, however, like the obvious route failed to communicate that ineffable something that makes Bonnaroo Bonnaroo.
In his most recent series, "What Does Bonnaroo Mean To You?," Mastro decided to enlist Bonnaroo attendees to help him find the words to explain what the festival is all about. Each work is split down the middle, juxtaposing a black-and-white snapshot of a devoted Bonnaroo disciple in his or her natural habitat with a letter or doodle summarizing what the four days of magic mean. Expect lots of yin yangs, peace signs and hearts, as well as touching letters describing what for many is hippie heaven on earth.
"My goal in this series was to communicate the many thoughts, feelings and experiences of the people who attend Bonnaroo," Mastro continued. "There’s over 85,000 people living together on The Farm for four days every year and each Bonnaroovian does it a little differently. The people and the stories highlighted here are meant to communicate what Bonnaroo is really all about and the recurring themes are clear. Positivity, freedom and love."
And of course, get excited for next year's festival, coming June 9-12, 2016.
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