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Interview with Chris Burkard

Today we wanna present Chris Burkard, one of the most famous surf and travel photographers. Stable collaborator of Surfer Magazine, he has been involved on many other projects that have led him to explore the far corners of the Earth. We wanted to interview him because we think that his pictures depict perfectly the combination of surfing and traveling that tries to convey to its users.


1. Hi Chris, tell us about your background, where are you from?

I was born in San Luis Obispo and lived in all of the five cities that make up the Central Coast of California like Arroyo Grande and Pismo Beach. I come from humble means growing up surrounded by lots of family. Travel to me meant going up the coast to camp or heading out into the dunes for weekends at the beach. The Central Coast has always been a part of my identity. It's a less crowded, colder counterpart to the typical Southern California scene. From the Pismo dunes to Big Sur's rugged coastline there is endless beauty in the landscape. It's a great place to call home.

2. How did you come up to photography and surf?

I didn't find photography and surf at the same time. Becoming a surf photographer was a natural process. In high school, art was the subject that captured my interest and attention. Photography in particular was an art form I could take out of the classroom and into the wild. I could create from anywhere, whether that be the ocean or deep in the mountains. I was originally drawn to landscape photography but soon realized there wasn't much money or action in it. Surfing provided that action but still let me explore my passion for nature.

3. We think surf, travel and photography are stricly related and, watching your photos, we think that you perfectly interpret this mix. When shooting, what do you try to communicate?

The goal with my photos is to communicate our place as humans in relation to this beautiful earth that surrounds us. I definitely believe that surf, travel, and photography are come together in this great harmony and when you combine them it makes for really special moments and memories. I hope to convey the feeling of these places and activities whether it be standing on a vacant coastline or walking down the streets of Cuba. I love being able to share those moments.

4. aims to help people find and organize their surf trip based on their personal needs, no matter you are a pro or just a beginner. Recently we saw you made some trips in extreme places, like the Arctic. How do you decide where to go for a surf/photography trip and how do you organize it?

I'm driven to explore areas that resonate with me because of their remoteness and their potential for adventure. The Arctic is definitely one of those places. I've been to Iceland 13 times and Norway 3 times. Planning and organizing for these trips is key. Most of the work happens before you even touch down in the country. Our trip to Russia took nearly three years of planning. At the core of every trip is your crew. They ultimately make or break the experience. You want to surround yourself with good people that have great attitudes especially if you're up against harsh elements. With regards to organization I find that it's always better to start before you think you really need to. Giving yourself plenty of time to plan out logistics is key.

5. What does a trip represent for you and which trip is imprinted on your mind?

A trip for me is an adventure to seek out what captures our imagination. A trip presents the opportunity to fulfill this yearning that people like myself have inside of us. We're itching to see what's around that next corner cause that's where some of our best stories are born. One trip that has left a lasting impression on me is my trip to Russia. We went there in search of surf but it became much more than that. We visited the largest population you cannot access from car. The stories from these places are so surreal, but it's gnarly to actually be there. Still, the further I get away from my comfort zone, the better it is, that's when you're really going to have meaningful experiences.

6. Tell us a curios anecdote that happens to you during your traveling.

One of the best mindsets that I try to reference when preparing for a trip is, “The more you know the less you need.” It was Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard who said that and it's such a simple reminder that we can actually bring less if we equip our minds with more skills. I love to be prepared but also maintain a minimalist mindset.

7. What is your photography equipment when you travel?

I'm fortunate to align myself with some great brands one of which is Sony. I use the Sony A7 as my go to camera. I have lots of Zeiss lenses like the 24-70 f4 which I recommend. I try to keep everything I need to shoot in a carry on. I want to be able to shoot fresh off the plane. Equipment for me goes beyond camera gear too. I use products like the Goal Zero solar chargers to keep my products charged in the likely scenario that I'm away from a power source.

8. As a well-traveled photographer, what is it about the Californian coast that makes it so special for you?

I know a lot of people that are biased towards their home like myself. I feel like it know it so well but also it's an easy place to love. It's so iconic and offers such diverse landscapes. In the Central Coast you're not super close to one thing but kind of close to a lot of attractions. In 2006 I road tripped down the California Coast along the entire stretch of Highway 1 with a surfer friend Eric Soderquist. The trip opened my eyes to this dynamic coastline that isn't just special for myself but for many others.

9. So where can our fellas go to see your work and purchase prints?

Instagram and Twitter via @chrisburkard. I also sell all my prints on my site at! I can print anything on my Instagram, Facebook, or anything you've seen of mine. I also do custom print orders through Feel free to send an email.

10. Tell us more about your future projects

My latest book is called Distant Shores which is available on my website. As far as future travel goes, I really want to go to the Falkland Islands off of the southern tip of South America. I also want to see more of the American Southwest and explore what's out there. I'm always looking to get involved in more video work. I should have a few coming out soon so keep your eyes peeled.

Thank you for this interview and congratulations for your beautiful project, well done!



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