Chris Burkard is one of the most influential adventure photographers in the world. His Instagram account has amassed nearly 3 million followers, and for good reason. For years, Burkard has been posting wanderlust invoking adventure photos from every corner of the globe, and its easy to see the California native’s influence on many photographers when scrolling through your Instagram feed. Quite simply, Chris Burkard is one of the founding fathers of modern day adventure photography.
But, Chris Burkard wasn’t always ‘Chris Burkard.’ In Burkard’s early career, he photographed surf competitions. But as he describes in the new film ‘#LifeChangingPlaces’ by Vincent Urban Film, the work soon became boring and uninspiring.
Wifi Everywhere, high rise hotels and crowded beaches. I knew there was something missing.
Burkard started looking into more remote places to find his inspiration and take himself out of his comfort zone. He soon found the place that would change his life. Norway’s Lofoten Islands. The ‘Islands of the Gods’.
Burkard documented surf in the last place you would expect surf to thrive…the Arctic Circle. At Unstad Arctic Surf,Burkard found what he was missing.
Three and a half years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Lofoten Islands myself. And what was even better than seeing this incredible slice of frozen paradise? I actually got to visit with Chris Burkard. At the time, I was working in marketing at SmugMug, and I had helped Burkard set up his SmugMug site. We had just started the now popular SmugMug Films, and I was chosen to travel with filmmaker Anton Lorimer to be second camera and document the making of the film in a photo essay.
For 8 days, we followed Burkard as he photographed pro surfers Brett Barley and Patrick Millin in blizzards, freezing water, and powerful winds. We road tripped through the region, standing in awe as we looked over small Nordic fishing villages at the foot of jagged snow covered mountains. And after 7 nights of thick cloud cover, we finally witnessed an incredible northern lights show that lasted hours.
The resulting film was something that we were incredibly proud of.
That trip changed my life. Not only had I seen one of the most stunning places on the planet, but I also learned how to be humble bad ass, as Burkard is indeed one of the best photographers in the world, but you would never know it when you meet him. Quiet and softspoken, Burkard will rarely talk about himself, but rather show genuine interest in what passions you possess. It even took a bit of prodding to get Burkard to talk about himself in his popular guest post for Resource Travel, ‘Adventure is my Inspiration.’
The short film is a beautiful look into how Burkard fell in love with being uncomfortable and how putting himself in challenging situations created the images he is so famously known for today. It all started back on the frozen soil of the Lofoten Islands. And I was lucky enough to experience it also, and incredibly lucky to see first hand how it changed Chris Burkard’s life.
Below is a selection of photos from our trip to Lofoten with Chris Burkard. You can see more on my website.