One seriously chilled dude
Being a surf photographer is tricky enough, but chooses to shoot surfers riding the waves in freezing Arctic seas…
For me, photography was a natural transition from doing art at high school. I grew up hiking and climbing, but didn’t just want to be an observer. I wanted to record nature, and my interest in photography developed from there. I didn’t study photography at college or anything, I am entirely self-taught, and started taking photography seriously when I was about 20. No, not at all. I started shooting on film. Most surf photography was taken on Ektachrome or Fujifilm Velvia film when I started, because it enabled you to really push the greens and blues. I switched to digital because I was just losing too many images when I was shooting in the ocean, compared with other photographers. My first digital SLR was the Canon EOS 20D. Yes, but I was more into the body boarding side. I grew up in Pismo Beach, a beach city in southern San Luis Obispo county, in the Central Coast area of California. I had always been drawn to nature as a kid, and originally wanted to be a landscape photographer, and studied large-format landscape photography. It just seemed really hard to make any money from it though, especially for a kid starting out. So I decided to combine my interest in landscape and nature photography with my interest in surfing. I think my interest in landscape photography has given a different perspective to my surf work and enabled me to get in the ‘bigger picture’, if you like.
Who: Chris Burkard is a surf and outdoor sports photographer who works for Surfer magazine and a range of commercial clients. He also sells prints via his website. What: Chris specialises in surf photography, and has carved out a niche photographing extreme surfers in the freezing cold seas of Scandinavia and other cold parts of the world. Where: Chris is based in central California, USA, but travels all over the world. Kit list: Chris favours compact system cameras rather than SLRs. “They are smaller and more compact when working in harsh conditions, so you tend to use them more. They are also easier to keep warm.”
Chris favours the full-frame Sony A99, plus the Sony A77, A6000 and A7S. These have waterproof housings that are custom-made for him, while he relies on rain covers for his lenses when shooting on the beach. He uses a wide range of lenses, using 10-18mm, 24-70mm and 70-400mm to cover most eventualities. “Zoom lenses are handy out in the cold: you really don’t want to be changing lenses any more than you have to.”
Chris edits and processes images with Lightroom and Photo Mechanic, and uses SmugMug for his website. “They helped me a lot to develop my website and sell my images, and I am featured in the SmugMug Film series.” You can watch Chris in action at www.bit.ly/cburkard. Further info: See Chris’s action-packed website at www.burkardphoto.com