Chris Burkard’s photos take adventure, surfing and photography to a whole new level. With the ocean as his main muse, freezing weather and wild landscapes are the usual settings of his incredible photos. Based in Central Coast, California, Burkard is a self-taught photographer with a successful career that has led him to travel extensively, and open a gallery and a studio. Iceland’s magic inspires his work and that is why it is his favorite place on earth.
You’ve surfed and photographed in very wild places. How do you get over the fear?
Honestly it isn't something I think about too often. When you’ve spent enough time in the water you can identify a dangerous situation before it’s going to happen. With that said, I actually had to get rescued by Dane Gudauskas after a particularly long session in Norway when I didn’t have enough energy to get myself to shore.
So, what is your take on the connection between surfing and photography?
It is a connection that makes sense. It’s even more related and connected than art or music. Surfing is such a personal sport and experience, and it happens so fast that photography is the best and sometimes the only way to document it.
How did you start taking photos as a self-taught photographer?
I started shooting directly after high school at about 19. I was really drawn to art and sketching but I soon realized photography was the medium I really wanted to devote myself to, rather than more traditional art mediums. It has allowed me to travel and really experience places – photography interacts in ways you can’t do with pastels or paint.
And what’s your favorite place on earth?
Iceland! Easily. It such a magical place and no matter how many times I go there, I keep getting drawn back. I’m about to go back for my 18th trip and am just as excited as my first trip.
When was your first trip to Iceland?
Wow! my first trip was back in 2010 with Keith Malloy. It made such a huge impression on me and honestly inspired the last five years of my work. I’ve been seventeen times since then and can see myself going another 17 in the next five years.
How do you survive the extreme cold weather conditions?
Having your gear dialed is the best bet. I’ve done enough trips to know that I have everything I need to be comfortable, but honestly before I go anywhere I’m on Google researching as much as I can. Everything you need to know to be prepared is out there, you just have to find it.
Who are your usual fellow travellers?
It really varies. For the surfing photos they are usually professional athletes. However, I tend to work with a lot of the same athletes just because you develop relationships and you learn how to work well with one another. Then, for most of my other shots and trips I take people from my staff or friends that I enjoy traveling and working with.
What is your next adventure?
My next two trips are going to Denali National Park and Iceland later this year for my 18th time.
See more of Chris Burkard’s work here.
All photos by: Chris Burkard/Massif
Article by: Laura Rodriguez Castro