Chris Burkard

Who is Chris Burkard?

Chris Burkard is an American artist and photographer. He is mainly known for his travels and collaborations with surfers. Chris takes a photojournalistic approach to do editorial projects, using multiple media. He is known for the great use of natural light to capture humanizing moments.

Most importantly, Kris has been named one of the top influencers worldwide. He specializes in photography in cold places, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Cuba, India, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand and Norway. 

Personal life of Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard was born on 12th March 1986 in San Luis Obispo, California. He was raised by a single mother, Maile. His classmate introduced Chris to the LDS Church that Chris’s mother attended as a young girl. Chris wanted to learn more about the church and was soon baptized. 

His mother married Chris’s stepfather when he was 12 years old and joined a family of five. In 2004, Chris graduated from Arroyo Grande High School and enrolled in classes at Cuesta Junior College. 

Chris got enchanted with photography and started it quickly became his favourite hobby. He bought his first camera from a Goodwill auction for $65. After shooting and developing an entire roll of slide film, he realized the camera didn’t work. Chris then borrowed a camera from his girlfriend’s mom and started experimenting with different lightning and contexts.

Growing near the ocean, Chris developed his own style of photographing landscapes and different water sports such as surfing, body surfing and bodyboarding. He switched from film to digital camera in the mid-2000s.

Chris Burkard married Breanne Burkard in 2007. They live in Grover Beach on California’s Central Coast and have two sons together. Two boys Jeremiah and Forrest Burkard.

The career of Chris Burkard

As a teenager, Chris started shooting photos of surfers in his hometown on the central coast of California. After they came out of the water, he’d try to sell his images to them.

Chris Burkard continued as a freelance photographer on both commercial and editorial projects. He later grew to popularity and got his work published in over 35 national and international covers. His photos appeared both print and online on magazines such as The New Yorker, National Geographic Adventure and Surfer Magazine. 

In 2006, Chris Burkard got picked over a famous large-format landscape photographer Michael Fatali, whose images of the American Southwest desert are published frequently. In the same year, Chris Burkard interned at Transworld Surf Magazine for four months before becoming an assistant photo editor. At the age of 21, in 2008, Chris Burkard landed himself a position as the senior staff photographer at Surfline magazine. At the same time, he served in another global surf forecasting and content site, Water Magazine. In 2010, Chris departed and started working at Surfer Magazine. He also expanded his artistic repertoire, branching out to filmmaking, writing, advocacy and speaking — including a 2015 TED Talk that’s been viewed over 2 million times.

Instagram of Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard has nearly 4 million followers on his Instagram. He regularly showcases his artistic photographs and promotes his products, such as books. Chris specializes in landscape, lifestyle, surf, outdoor and travel subjects.

There are some tips that Chris uses when creating his photographs. Adding a person to his foreground adds a perspective. It creates contrast in how the surroundings are majestic compared to a human. 

Chris shared how important it is to create your own style and stick to it. He found something that spoke to him and perfected it so his followers could learn his niche. 

In Chris’s words, “Embrace the mundane”, even the most mundane travel moments can sometimes make the best photos. He thinks it’s essential to find the uniqueness of a space, such as cute lanterns in a restaurant or weird looking piles of rocks in the mountains.

Lightning is another key for his pictures that makes a bland subject come alive. Chris likes to take his photos early in the morning or late evening as things silhouette.

He thinks it’s really important to make your Instagram channel as discoverable as possible. If you are interested in building an audience, you should embrace the power of hashtags such as Chris Burkard. 

Awards of Chris Burkard

  • Morro Bay Art Society Award 2005 - The Art Center Morro Bay is one of the most extensive galleries on the California Central Coast to exhibit original art and photography by local artists.
  • Follow the Light Foundation Flame Grant Winner 2006 - Chris could fund a six-month-long surfing trip along the California coast. His adventures on this journey were later published as “The California Surf Project” by Chronicle Books.
  • Red Bull Illume: Illumination and Overall Image Quest Winner 2010 - This competition is narrowed to 50 finalists. Their work is then showcased on a worldwide tour before revealing a winner in a final grand ceremony. This competition happens only once every three years.
  • Look Between Photo Festival 2010 - This festival took place in Charlottesville, Virginia and got produced by Look3.
  • The World Open of Photography 2nd Place Open Winner 2012 - International photography competition. Chris Burkard landed himself 2nd place Open Category Winner.
  • Red Bull Illume: Category Finalist (Spirit) 2013 - Chris made it to the top 50 but didn’t win.
  • Olympus Pro Photographer Showdown April 2013 - Chris Burkard won the People’s Choice Award in the action sports photography competition. It was part of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival held in Whistler, British Columbia.
  • PMDA Visionary Photographer Award, 2016 - Chris Burkard got an award from Photoimaging Manufacturers and Distributors on January 5, 2016, in Las Vegas, NV. The award was presented to Chris, “In recognition of your vision and creativity in offering new and exciting ways to bring images to life, and for inspiring a new course for future photographers by demonstrating the rewards of capturing uncharted territories.”
  • Another famous landscape photographer from Australia, Josh Beames, listed Chris Burkard amongst his creative influences.

Books of Chris Burkard

  • The California Surf Project (2010) - In 2009, Chris Burkard wrote his first book, The California Surf Project, published by Chronicle Books. Chris documents the six-month surfing exploration along the California coast in this book. Chris Burkard and his friend, professional surfer, Eric Soderquist explored rode together in a 1976 Volkswagen bus. They started from the Oregon border and rode all the way south to Tijuana. Using the iconic Pacific Coast Highway as their guide.
  • Come Hell or High Water: Plight of the Torpedo People (2012) - Chris Burkard was a principal photographer documenting a film release by Patagonia Ambassador Keith Malloy. This photo book documents body surfing in its full beauty. The movie won the “Best Cinematography” award in 2011 from the New York Surf Film Festival. In 2013, Chris Burkard, along with friends and body surfers Mark Cunningham and Keith Malloy, took a trip to the east and west coast cities promoting both book and film.
  • Russia: The Outpost Vol. 1 (2013) - This book was made in collaboration with the director Ben Weiland. It’s a combination of small-format photographs by Chris and short stories written by Ben. It documents their trip to Russia with surfers Cyrus Sutton, Trevor Gordon, Keith Malloy and Dane Gudauskas.
  • Distant Shores (2014) - This book was published by Ammo. It’s a compendium of his work from Chile, Christmas Island, India, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Caribbean, Alaska, Japan, Iceland, Mexico and Nicaragua. Book takes advantage of large format photography to highlight each location. 
  • The Boy Who Spoke To The Earth (2015) - Chris wrote his short story book in collaboration with illustrator David McClellan. Dreaming Books published this book and followed a young protagonist that travels through the wilderness. It quickly became his fastest-selling book. 
  • High Tide (2015) - This book was published by Mendo and is a collection of his work from his most recent travels. It also contains stories by Michael Kew, Zander Morton and Ben Weiland.

Chris Burkard’s setup

Chris uses Sony mirrorless systems. He used Canon, Sony, and Nikon in his career but settled on what he believes is the best. His travels require a lightweight build for astrophotography and travelling. 

Chris stated that he uses Sony A7RIV for the majority of his work. He uses A7SIII for his night and Astro images, but A7RIV is his go-to model for commercial jobs. If he wants to go super light, Chris uses A6500 as well as when shooting in the water.


  •  A7RIV, A9, A7SIII, 7C

Len’s for his A7RIV & A7SIII

  • 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f2.8, 100-400mm f4-5.6, Sony 200-600mm, 28mm f2 w/ Fisheye Adapter, 35mm f1.4, 55mm f1.8, Batis 25mm f2, Sigma 20mm f1.4 w/ Adapter



Len’s for his A6500

  • 10-18mm f/4, 16-70mm f/4, Sony 16mm 2.8 w/ Fisheye Adapter


  • Peak Designs Travel Tripod

Standard Kit 

  • A7Riv 16-35mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 w/ Polar Pro Quartzline Polarizers

Night Kit

  • A7SIII w/ Sigma 20mm f1.4 w/ Adapter & 35mm f1.4

 Surf Kit

  • Land: A9 w/ 100-400mm f4-5.6 or Sony 200-600mm
  • Water: A7RIV w/Voigtlander 10mm 2.0 fisheye, 55mm f1.8, & 24mm 

How much does Chris Burkard make? Net worth!

Chris Burkard has an estimated net worth of $1.2 million. Most of his earnings come from his photographer job and Instagram career. He also gains revenue from his cloth merch on his own website.

Chris released six books in total as of 2021. At Glacier’s End, High Tide: A Surf Odyssey, High Tide: A Surf Odyssey, High Tide: A Surf Odyssey, Under An Arctic Sky Photo Book and one children’s book that he created for his two sons, The Boy Who Spoke To The Earth.

Chris has over 100 magazine covers to his credit. He is also sponsored by famous brands like Sony and Black Diamond

Interesting facts about Chris Burkard

  • Chris Burkard's zodiac sign is Pisces.
  • He has been named a top 10 social influencer by Forbes.
  • In 2009, Burkard was contracted by Patagonia, Inc. as a project photographer.
  • Chris uses use Gaia GPS on every cycling and bike packing trip. 
  • He recommends Sony A6500 as his go-to camera for its price and value.
  • Chris teamed up with Mountainsmith to create what he thinks is the perfect camera bag for expeditions.
  • His first intern was with Michael Fatali, a large format landscape photographer, and he got an internship at Transworld Surf magazine, which was an incredibly valuable experience.
  • He thinks water photography can take years to master.
  • Sometimes it takes 2-3 years to plan some of his trips to cold locations. The hardest aspect is always accessed.
  • The favourite place that he travelled to is Iceland. 
  • He recently opened up a gallery in Pismo Beach, California, where he showcases a lot of his work. 
  • He offers a one-day intensive workshop, which is typically based in US cities and an immersive multi-day “adventure” workshop that is typically located in remote and often cold environments internationally.