Chris Burkard is one very inspiring man! His unique style of adventure and surf photography will captivate you, his long list of Awards and International clients (Apple, Corona, Men’s Journal, ESPN & lots, lots more!) will impress you but most of all, we believe it’s his ability to challenge himself, by pushing his artistic limits in the most remote locations around the world that speaks lengths about his character.
At almost 32, Chris’s career titles include, “accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author” and he is followed and admired both online and in person by millions around the globe.
Named as a ‘Top Travel Influencer’ Chris Burkards work may subconsciously self-motivate you to follow your dream and take a chance on the ‘what if’. He embodies the term ‘Adventure Seeker’ to it’s fullest and we are thrilled that he answered our email to be part of our Wednesday Write-Up.
Enjoy Chris’s story!
Name: Chris Burkard
Home Base: Pismo Beach, California
During your Ted Talk, you said, “In life there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit.” What extremes have you gone to, to find this “joy”?
I have experienced many extremes to find joy. Whether that be intense weather conditions, freezing waters, long travel hours, food poisoning, etc. Every job is different and those moments of suffering have all lead to the amazing adventures I have had. When I am traveling, I always try to plan ahead and think through situations that may happen. Some trips take me up to three years to get everything straightened out. You have to think through extreme situations that may happen such as, “Can a helicopter get here if we need rescue? Will I need bear mace?” If you don’t think about those things beforehand, things could go horribly wrong.
One of the most memorable moments you’ve had during your Adventures so far?
Every trip I go on brings new memorable moments. One time I was shooting surfing in the Arctic from the water. As I was floating in the water getting shots of waves and surfers roll pass me a slow layer of snow began to fall. The conditions were really extreme. I couldn’t tell what the photos I was taking looked like, but I knew they had to be really good. Slowly I began to realize my limbs were growing numb and hypothermia was setting in. I kept shooting though because I knew it was never going to be this good again. Eventually, the people who were surfing had to pull me to shore because I could no longer tread water. Long story short, I survived, and the photos were unreal. That was a moment of pure joy.
The most bizarre experience you’ve encountered?
Well, I’m not gonna lie there have been many weird ones. Getting stuck in a Russian jail cell because of an inaccurate visa was probably the worst one. It’s too long of a story to share, but it was pretty much as bad as it gets
What environmental conditions have been the most challenging?
Each place brings new and different environmental conditions. The unpredictability of Iceland’s weather has definitely been a challenge when I am there on assignment. The storm that hit when we were filming “Under an Arctic Sky” was the worst storm to hit in twenty-five years, and that’s not something you can fully prepare for. When situations like that happen, you have to put the lives of your crew first and make the right call, so no one gets hurt.
Who/What inspired you to live this adventurous lifestyle?
I realized that I loved photography when I was around 19 years old, but the idea of turning it into a career was overwhelming. I knew I had to work hard and give it 100%, so I started shooting surfers on the beach and trying to sell them pictures, I shot weddings, senior pictures, and interiors store photos. That wasn’t the end goal, but I had to start somewhere. I knew I wanted to learn more about action sports and landscape photography, so I started applying for internships. I finally got an opportunity to intern for Michael Fatali and the chance to intern at Transworld Surf magazine, which were both such valuable experiences where I learned so many skills.
You travel to some epic locations around the world, what has been the most memorable ‘mode of transport’ you’ve taken to get there?
I have taken some pretty bizarre modes of transport while on assignment. I have had sketchy helicopter rides (I hate helicopters), snow mobiles, sailboats and everything in between. That is always an awesome part of the adventure.
Who would be the most influential person in your life and why?
Easily the most influential person in my life is my mom. She had me when she was super young and was on her own because my dad passed away before I was born. So I have always admired her and really looked up to her for the sacrifices she made to have me and keep me.
Does your wife Breanne and sons Jeremiah and Forrest ever travel with you when you work?
My wife has come on a few trips with me: Nicaragua, Iceland, Ireland, and all over the U.S. After we had our two sons, it made it a little harder to travel, but my kids have been to Hawaii and Seattle with me.
What other destinations in Australia would you like to visit and capture for your creative work?
I have been to Australia twice, but both times were in a weird season. I really want to go back to West OZ and check out that part of the country. It seems more wild and remote and I feel really drawn to that type of landscape.
One item you wouldn’t leave home without?
Besides a camera, I always travel with my Goal Zero solar chargers to keep my products charged in the likely scenario that I’m away from a power source.
Next big Adventure?
I haven’t decided what projects I want to go all in on this year yet. Keep an eye out for what this year has in store!
Destinations on your Bucket List?
My buckets list seems to perpetually grow. I really want to get back to the Aleutian Islands and explore more of them, as well as the Kuril Islands off Russia. I feel drawn to explore more remote islands in the world, as well as parts of the Alaska Coast.
One piece of advice you would share with fellow Adventurers?
One piece of advice I would give would be to just get out there and explore as much as possible. Seek out the unknown and don’t be afraid of a little mystery or being a bit uncomfortable.
Connect with Chris Burkard
For further inspiration we’d highly recommend watching Chris’s TED Talk below.