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TPS 2019: Five quick questions with Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard outdoor photographer portrait
Chris Burkard appears on The Photography Show 2019 Super Stage on 18 March
(Image credit: Chris Burkard)

Outdoor photographer and Instagram sensation Chris Burkard appears on the Super Stage on Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 1.15pm. He will share some of the greatest lessons he has gained from behind the lens. 

From being thrown in a Russian jail cell to swimming in near-freezing water, his stories are more than just pieces of advice for his fellow photographers – they create the wisdom that he says can only be learned the hard way. 

Tickets for the Super Stage speakers are available now for £12 each. The talks will be held in the Toute Suite, just outside the main hall of The Photography Show. 

In the meantime, discover more about Chris and his work as he answers five quick questions ahead of his Super Stage appearance… 

Five quick questions with Chris Burkard 

Surf, the Aleutian Islands, by Chris Burkard

'Surf', by Chris Burkard – his all-time career favorite image    (Image credit: Chris Burkard)

1. As a young adult, photography was your passport to new and exciting places away from where you grew up. Which parts of the world are at the top of your list of future photographic projects? 

To be honest, everywhere and anywhere was at the top of my list. I had never been outside the USA when I picked up a camera so to say I was eager was an understatement. When I started I always dreamed of distant, remote places but the cold never really came to mind as a place I would stake my claim. My very first trip was to Yemen, Dubai and Oman; it was honestly so much of a culture shock I didn’t know what to do. 

Chris Burkard Northern Lights image

This epic Chris Burkard image melds surfing and the Northern Lights  (Image credit: Chris Burkard)

2. Have you bettered your all-time favourite image ['Surf', taken in the Aleutian Islands, pictured below], and if so what is it?  

Honestly, nothing will ever replace that image for me. It means so much more than just a “cover photo”. It was proof that so much time, research and investment was worth it. I came close [to bettering it] in Iceland when I shot under the Northern Lights and while that was still something really special, I feel like that photo of the surfer with the volcano was pretty much a once in a lifetime scenario. We risked so much to get it. 

Surfing shot by Chris Burkard

Incredible images like this show how much Chris Burkard is drawn to extreme conditions  (Image credit: Chris Burkard)

3. You shun blue skies and warm waves and are drawn to extreme conditions. Are you still taking calculated risks to capture your images, or are you mellowing as you get older and more experienced? 

I would absolutely still take the same risks but I think the reality is that if you are going to make bad decisions, you’d better be smart about it. The goal for me now is relying on experience more so than just ego and the willingness to risk it all. Now my shoots take in many more considerations including my family and kids. They definitely come to mind when I am planning and executing a trip or expedition or creating an image that involves a high degree of risk. 

Surfers in the snow image by Chris Burkard

Surfers in the snow by top outdoor photographer Chris Burkard  (Image credit: Chris Burkard)

4. Has climate change created more opportunities to shoot the extreme conditions you favour, and how more extreme have weather conditions become since you started out as a photographer? 

I guess in many ways it has but at the same time its really hard to fully appreciate the true changes that climate change has made to the environment, since I have only been shooting for 12 years or so. I do try my best to appreciate how quickly places are changing and how my images can serve as a record of those experiences. 

Dramatic surfing shot by Chris Burkard

Surfing in extreme conditions is an average day at work for Chris Burkard  (Image credit: Chris Burkard)

5. Do you think your career would have progressed differently had Instagram been such a big thing when you started out? 

My career was pretty far under way before I ever used social media, so I like to think that I would be doing exactly what I am doing now. But I do realize that social media has given me the added benefit of being able to tell stories to millions of people and share the things that I care most about! 

Booking details

Catch Chris Burkard on the Super Stage during the fourth day of The Photography Show – Tuesday 19 March 2019 at 1.15pm. Tickets cost £12. 

There are over 200 exhibitors and over 300 free talks and demonstrations at The Photography Show, and sister event The Video Show. Tickets for the main show are available now, and you can get 25% off advance, single-day, adult tickets using the code DCAMTPS19 if you book by 13 March.

Don't miss the other Super Stage speakers 

Martin Parr
Legendary star of British street photography

Legendary Magnum Photos photographer Martin Parr will talk about his career in photography; finishing with a look at his new exhibition, Only Human, which opens on 7 March at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Read Five Quick Questions with Martin Parr

Saturday 16 March 2019, 3.30pm

Gordon Buchanan
Presenter & cinematographer of BBC's Animals with Cameras

The TV presenter and wildlife filmmaker recounts the weird, wild and wonderful stories of shooting nature programs around the world over the last 25 years

Tuesday 19 March 2019, 3.30pm

Annie Griffiths
One of the first women to work for National Geographic

Annie Griffiths shares her journey from a rural Minnesota newspaper to the pages of National Geographic Magazine and beyond – and discusses how photography can be used as force for good.

Sunday 17 March 2019, 3.30pm

Moose Peterson
One of America's best-loved wildlife photographers

From birds to planes – Moose is a passionate and innovative wildlife photographer, who has more recently added aircraft photography to his skill set. 

Sunday 17 March 2019, 1.15pm

Pete Souza
Chronicled Barack Obama's years as US president

Pete Souza speaks about his award-winning career as a photojournalist, and about his job working as a White House photographer covering the presidency of Barack Obama

Saturday 16 March 2019, 1.15pm

Lindsay Adler
Leading New York fashion photographer

Join renowned American fashion photographer, Lindsay Adler as she discusses how she went from ordinary photographs to extraordinary image making. Based in New York City, her fashion images have appeared in numerous publications including Marie Claire, In Style, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and more.
Read Five Quick Questions with Lindsay Adler

Monday 18 March 2019, 1.15pm

Read more about TPS 2019

The Photography Show 2019: everything you need to know

Download your free 48-page Photography Show 2019 preview