Exploring the World’s Last Wild Places With Photographer Chris Burkard


Josh Mulcoy carves up a nice wave while dropping in with a spectacular view of Mt. Cleveland on the Aleutian Islands, 2013. Credit: Chris Burkard/Massif


Q: Has there ever been a time when you felt you lacked a clear direction or purpose?

Chris: I think that it’s common to feel uninspired or even have a lack of direction. The important thing is that you don’t wrap your whole identity up in your work, and make sure that you give time to all the things you want to do. Ideally, you want to balance your work and what you love. Ultimately that is where your mission statement should come from. For me, the camera is just a tool to help get the job done.

Q: You have over 2.7 million followers on Instagram, do you feel a pressure to portray a certain image on social media?

Chris: That’s interesting. Maybe there’s some internal feeling in wanting to create engagement [with followers]. [Being successful on Instagram] shouldn’t be the reason we get on there, I guess is what I’m saying.

Q: Do you think photographers or entrepreneurs have to use Instagram to be successful?

Chris: Yeah. I think it’s an easy, free way to share your work. I don’t think you need it to be successful, but I don’t think it would be wise not to use it. Instagram shouldn’t be a tool to just share your highlight moments of your life. It should be something where you feel some engagement with people, and then it can be a way to communicate, and share what you care about and love.

Q: Plans or dreams for the future?

Chris: Just spend more time with my family and promote the places I care about.

Q: Anything else?

Chris: My one piece of advice to any young creative would be to not describe to people what they can already see. In a photograph, we have so much opportunity to tell stories. I think that we often lose those opportunities by pairing other people’s words to our photos or our experiences. So I would urge people to start pondering a little more. Think about if you had to make your own quote, what would it be? If you had to say something significant what would it be?

Talking with Chris Burkard reaffirmed the idea that if you always strive to do what you love, it will be easier to stand by and be proud of the way you live your life. I hope that people like Chris inspire you to do what you love!


The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.

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About Author

Caroline has found inspiration and peace in the outdoors for as long as she can remember. Growing up in places like Boston MA, St. Petersburg FL, Toronto, and Singapore, she developed a desire to protect all of the beautiful places on Earth. She is now working on projects as a student at the University of San Diego studying environmental studies. Along with fighting for the environment, you can find Caroline taking photos of the stars in Joshua Tree National Park, meditating in her dorm room, playing in the waves at the beach, and cooking up some healthy food (or her famous vanilla berry cake). Caroline is thrilled for her third year as a part of the NYLC which is made up of some the most inspirational people she has ever met.