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How Chris Burkard Uses Adventure in His Photography Business

by Ryan Robinson
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The Outdoor Photography Experience with Chris Burkard on CreativeLive Adventure

Travel Alberta © Chris Burkard Photography

Chris Burkard has very quickly become one of the world’s most respected and celebrated outdoor photographers – and for good reason.

He started his career as a photographer at the age of 19, with an internship at Transworld Surf and quickly moved to working at Surfer Magazine where he began building his name in the industry. Once Chris released his first book, California Surf Project, business really began to pick up.

His passion for adventure and capturing amazing scenes while exploring the unknown has helped Chris build a powerful brand, and business for himself.

From TED Talks, to over 1.6 million Instagram followers (and counting), an impressive studio in Avila Beach, and countless commercial shoots under his belt, Chris has been everywhere lately. In fact, he has been to Iceland 17 times in the past few years – all with the goal of sharing the world’s most awe inspiring locations.

All the while, Chris still finds time to lose himself in the beauty of the world’s most remote locations.

Creating an Outdoor Photography Business Founded on Adventure and Passion with Chris Burkard

Travel Alberta © Chris Burkard Photography

Here’s how Chris balances growing his photography business with enjoying all of the incredible places he visits, and also keeping a semblance of a personal life.

“Hard work, persistence, and having passion for what I do has taken me a long way.” Chris shares. “For the first part of my career, I slept in my car and commuted 5+ hours for internships.”

One of the most common traits in successful entrepreneurs of all different career paths, is their insane dedication to following their passions and curiosities at all costs.

Want to get your photography business off the ground? RSVP and join Kathy Holcombe on June 27 for Building Your Photography Business for under $3000

“I work anywhere from 6-18 hours a day, it all depends whether or not I’m on a job,” Chris says.

Sometimes he’ll be out on the road for weeks at a time for photography work, pulling extremely long days. It’s that dedication to delivering great results for his clients and his community that keeps building his reputation as a world-class photographer.

How to Launch a Successful Photography Business Chris Burkard

The Aleutian Islands © Chris Burkard Photography

By now, Chris’ images are widely recognizable by the style of his photographs, even if you don’t see his name in the credits. This is by design, and is essential to bringing him the success he has experienced as a photographer thus far.

“The best thing that you can do as an aspiring photographer is to identify a style that represents you well, develop within that style, and keep shooting to perfect it,” he shares.

“It’s super important to have your images be recognizable by editors and others who are looking at your work. With the large number of photographers that are out there now, you must find ways to stand out. The best compliment I can ever receive is when people know my photography work instantly when they see it,” Chris elaborates.

Once you can achieve that instant recognizability factor with your work, you know you’re doing something right. In his outdoor photography class here on CreativeLive, he covers his best tips and strategies on marketing yourself as a photographer.

Being an early adopter and prolific user of Instagram has certainly helped Chris solidify his name as a photographer. 1.6 million followers is some incredible social proof.

Chris actually makes sure that he has a presence and defined strategy on all emerging social media channels, in case they eventually blow up. That way, he’ll already be positioned for meteoric growth and a loyal following for his content, once more new users come in and begin poking around a new platform.

Chris Burkard on Creating a Brand and Photography Business

Surfing Russia © Chris Burkard Photography

No matter what stage your photography passion or business is in, Chris shares everything that has helped him both capture and monetize his photographs.

Want to get your photography business off the ground? RSVP and join Kathy Holcombe on June 27 for Building Your Photography Business for under $3000

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Ryan Robinson

Content marketing consultant to the world's top experts and growing startups. Online educator at where I share business advice and teach entrepreneurs how to start a side business. Check out my post on the best business ideas, read about how I validated a business idea in just 30 days, get my recommendations for the best business books, and check out my favorite motivational quotes.