One se­ri­ously chilled dude

Be­ing a surf pho­tog­ra­pher is tricky enough, but chooses to shoot surfers rid­ing the waves in freez­ing Arc­tic seas…

Digital Camera World - - POSTCARDS -

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

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