Friday, 10 June 2011

An interview with influential surf photographer Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard has launched his new website and it looks incredible. As a staff photographer for Surfer Magazine and the first Annual Follow the Light Award winner, Chris continues to blow us away with his outstanding images and visual interpretations of the ocean. This man is unstoppable. He stopped by for a few to tell us a bit about his latest expeditions and let us know a bit more about the man behind the lens.

Definitely check out his new website at
And a documentary by Lonelyleap featuring Chris Burkard:

So who are you?
I'm a mexican-american, 25 year old male living in Arroyo Grande California with my beautiful wife Breanne. We try to keep it simple... minimalists at heart. We love good food, great movies, and Yoga.

Your photos are incredible, when did you realise that photography was the direction you’d like to be heading?
That came shortly after high school, it was something that I never even thought of until I wanted to start taking pictures of my friends surfing and bodyboarding. I did alot of art in high school, even won a grant for it, but it never stuck until I found the photographic medium. It was incredible; it gave me the opportunity to take 'art' anywhere... in social settings, the ocean, mountains, anywhere. It wasnt like putting up an easel somewhere on a cliff side, it was really involved and I love the honesty of it, so I guess I just fell in love with the craft. 

Has the ocean always been a huge part of your life?
Always, since day one. I grew up in central California and my first memories were at the beach with a mouthful of sand.

Who or what inspires you? 
That is such a hard questions because there are so many things that can inspire us. Nature is my greatest inspiration, being in the mountains and amongst the trees, the smell, the sound. Moving storms, clouds, rain, sunshine, nothing in life is better. Music is a big inspiration to me. Listening to good music always helps to get the wheels turning on new projects. Now, when it comes to people I think I find inspiration in so many other kinds of work. Photographers specifically would be a long list, but to name a few; My boy M Maassen, Pete Taras, Patrick Trefz, Joe Curren, Nate Lawrence, Henri Cartier- Bresson, Nick Nichols, Jeff Divine, Jeremy Koreski, and honestly every photo posted on this blog. I come here weekly to seek out new inspiration. Love it!

As a photographer you must travel a lot, is there any particular place that you can’t wait to go back to?
ICELAND! I have been 3 times, and I cannot wait to go back. It is incredible.

Is there any particular camera that you like to use the most?
Nikon D700, its got beautiful focusing with an image sensor that can really pick up greens and blues. I love the fit and feel and they way she performs in harsh conditions. All cameras are pretty much the same, but there is something special about this little body.

Do you ever use film (35mm)?
A lot, I have a large format 4x5, 2 medium format bodies, a panoramic camera, a Rollei, and a couple of 35mm bodies. Nowadays it's all for fun and creative projects, since most clients want digital film has taken a back seat. But all of my first few images I had printed were film photos. I love Ektachrome VS, best film ever made. 

If you’re not out shooting, what are you doing?

What is it about surfing and the ocean that keeps drawing you back?
Probably the fact that you are never going to see the same thing twice, no two waves break the same. It's such a beautiful thing, the way that light plays on the ocean. There are only so many moments we get that are really beautiful out there... I just hope to get a couple during my lifetime.

Tea or coffee?
Tea for sure. Rooibos Chai is probably my favorite, with a little bit of honey on the bottom.

Favourite meal?
That's a tough one. I've got a lot of love for Indian food. I'm really digging on Kichadi right now, it's an old Ayurvedic recipe and it's pretty dang good.
Have you got any projects up your sleeve?
A couple of projects, I'm working on a new book and working on an extension to the short film that is on my website. I'm constantly trying to build my portfolio, always searching for those images that are going to mean something a couple years down the road.

Where can we expect to see you in the future?
Hopefully you won't see me because I am a master of disguise, but I'll most likely be traveling and trying to get off the map as far as I can go. Russia, Cuba, and a few other places I have up my sleeve. But there is a good chance I will be climbing in Joshua Tree or Yosemite. 


  1. thanks!
    great interview! very inspiring ...

  2. such a sick photographer, rad interview

  3. amazing blog and great interview, thanks for sharing!

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