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The Gearzette
4x4: 16 Questions with Chris Burkard

4x4: 16 Questions with Chris Burkard

- August 21, 2019

Chris Burkard is an accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.

He's worked on global, prominent campaigns with Fortune 500 clients, spoke on the TED stage, and has published a growing collection of books. His latest documentary "Under An Arctic Sky" follows a group of surfers traveling to a remote corner of Iceland in the middle of winter to find the perfect waves and facing the worst winter storm in decades.

We sat down with Chris to find out more about what inspires him.

Best thing seen while adventuring? 

Oh man... that's too tough. I guess the interior of Iceland from the air is pretty incredible and I've flown and driven over it so many times that it holds a special place with me now. 

Sum up your philosophy in 3 words.

Just keep doing. 

What charity do you identify with?

Conservation International. 

Going on a road trip- which 3 people do you bring with you, dead or alive?

Eric Soderquist, one of my best friends and who I traveled with on the road trip I shot the California Surf Project. Ansel Adams, as he was someone I've admired for his work in the national parks and a master of his craft and someone I'd love to have met. Probably my wife. 

On your road trip playlist? 

Niel Young, Shakey Graves, Jose Gonzalez, Bon Iver, the XX. 

Top place to visit where NEVER been? 

There is a chain of islands of the coast of Russia I've been wanting to get to for a long time. It's probably highest on my list right now. 

What has been your biggest surprise while on a shoot? 

Too many to count. Never really know what is going to happen on an assignment. Could've been the time I was chased by Russian military on a beach I wasn’t supposed to be on. 

Most dangerous moment while exploring? 

I spent a night in jail on my first trip to Russia in 2009. I was so fresh and new to traveling that I felt invincible. That was for sure the scariest moment I have had on the road to date. We decided to search for waves along the Vladivostok coast, a remote part of Eastern Russia. We landed and made our way to customs and every single member of our crew went through without a hitch. I got held up because my visa had the wrong entry date - it said I was 2 days early - even though we all sent our paperwork together. I was interrogated with an interpreter for over 6 hours and was then told I had to spend a night in jail before being deported to Korea. I was in jail for 24 hours and then was, sure enough, deported back to Korea before I could come back in the country a day later. The entire time I was on the phone with the US embassy trying to get out of the situation with no food and no water. I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and the entire experience definitely made me grateful for my comfortable life in North America. 

What are you most grateful for? 

Family. For sure. They have been the biggest motivational factor in my life, while also being the cornerstone. 

Is film dead? 

No, definitely not. I personally don't shoot film any longer for commercial assignments but there is still a huge community of people that do so regularly. 

Favorite camera? 

Sony A7Riii 

Must have piece of technology? 

Noise-canceling earphones. With the amount of time I spend on airplanes, it's an absolute must-have. 

Highest on your Front Runner wish-list? 

Jerry can and rack!

A pitfall when you turn a passion into a job? 

I've spoken about this at length but at the end of the day getting to travel the world and take images is the dream so all the good outweighs the bad. 

Your role model? 

Ansel Adams. 

Your nickname? 

Burky. I've honestly been called it more than Chris is the last 10 years!