There is no denying that surf and adventure photographer Chris Burkard has influenced an entire generation of young adventure photographers, including myself (minus the young part). My Instagram feed is filled with epic adventure photos from all over the globe, and the Burkard influence in these photos is obvious. Gone are the days of wide open and empty landscapes. Most of the landscape photos I see in my feed add a human element that gives the landscape a sense of scale, and more importantly, a feeling of adventure. Burkard, while not the forefather of the idea, has undeniably made it more mainstream in this Instagram age.
Throughout a short but accomplished career, the 28 year old from San Luis Obispo, California is probably best known for his surf photography. Most of these images are from remote locations, and the photos document snow, ice, and hurricane force winds, adding to the adventure feeling that Burkard likes to convey to his audience.
Recently, Burkard gave a short, but incredibly inspiring TED Talk about how he found his love for these frozen landscapes. Burkard even says the painful cold helps keep his mind sharp and focused.
Now, when it comes to pain, psychologist Brock Bastian probably said it best when he wrote, “Pain is a kind of shortcut to mindfulness. It makes us suddenly aware of everything in the environment. It brutally draws us in to a virtual sensory awareness of the world much like meditation.”
If shivering is a form of meditation, then I would consider myself a monk.
Back in 2014, I worked for the photo website company SmugMug and Burkard was one of the many photographers who I worked with. Once we saw the incredible photos that Burkard would bring back from the Arctic, we knew we had to make a film on his work. SmugMug filmmaker Anton Lorimer and I hopped on a plane and joined Burkard in the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway, where he was documenting the winter surf sessions of three professional surfers.
For eight days, we got pounded by blizzards, barely slept, ate like college students, and lived five guys deep in a tiny wooden cabin, but the resulting film and photographs are incredible, and work that all of us are incredibly proud of. But even more than pride, I can honestly say that not only had I left the Arctic having learned a great deal about this extreme genre of photography, but Chris Burkard inspired me to follow my dreams, think outside of that small box, and most importantly, embrace the suffering.
In life, there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit, and that tiny bit of suffering that I did for my photography, it added a value to my work that was so much more meaningful to me than just trying to fill the pages of magazines. See, I gave a piece of myself in these places, and what I walked away with was a sense of fulfillment I had always been searching for.
See more from Chris Burkard on his website.
See more behind the scenes photos from our trip to the Arctic at Bonocore Visual Studios.
Below is a collection of behind the scenes images of Burkard that I took during our trip to the Arctic. See more photos at Bonocore Visual Studios.