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Chris, can you start off by telling us a little about the genesis of your career and Chris Burkard Studios?

My goal has always been to inspire people and share the natural beauty of our planet by traveling to remote locations and sharing my photography with as many people as possible.

2013, Aleutian Islands
For all of the creatives out there trying to get into a career, could you offer 10 tips on how to make it as a freelancer in the outdoor world?

1 – Be consistent. Post every day on social media. Social media is the best free marketing tool out there these days. Most of my commercial jobs have come through social media, which is why I share my best work on my social media channels daily!

2 – Be open to new experiences. I try to do something new on every trip I do. Routine kills creativity and it’s all about changing things up. I really try stay inspired as much as possible and make use of every opportunity out there.

3 – Do internships/learn from the professionals. I started by learning from the best, spent hours driving to unpaid internships. I worked as an editor and assistant before actually working as a professional photographer. It was a great way to get a perspective of other ends of photography.

4 – Be available. I try to reply to every person who gets in touch and create a positive connection with them. You never know, the tiny company you turn down today might be a huge company the next day.

5 – Be prepared and know your gear. There is nothing worse than not being prepared or badly prepared for a job and not knowing how to use your camera. I always research the locations I travel to before I go and try to visualize the images I want to get before I actually get to the locations. It really makes my job easier once I’m there. Doing my research also allows me to pack exactly what I need for the job.

6 – Leave your comfort zone. Get out there! Push yourself and leave your comfort zone. It’s all about going beyond our limits – that’s when we perform our best work. My favorite images are taken in places where it was so cold I could barely feel my fingers, or my body was shutting down and I was about to go into hypothermia. It’s exactly in those moments that you make every movement, every shot count.

7 – Network. Get to know the people of the industry; be in touch with them, collaborate with people. There are so many talented people out there and getting in touch with them is essential. We can all help each other become successful.

8 – Don’t take yourself too seriously. I mean obviously be professional, but remember to have fun. Stay passionate about your work.

9 – Set goals. I try to set goals all the time. Long term and short term goals really help me staying focussed and orientated.

10 – Be yourself. It’s ok to be inspired by people, but don’t copy people. If you want to win new clients and jobs it’s by standing out as being different than everyone else out there. Because that’s why clients and companies have come to you in the first place.

Morro Bay, California
To see more of Chris’ work, check out:

 Interview by: Charles Post

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