My name is Chris Burkard. I’m an outdoor adventure and landscape photographer from the Central Coast of California, but I got my start as a surf photographer. For me, it was never really about surf photography, it was always about going out and being in nature.
I came from humble means, and my family never traveled. In high school I was interested in art, and when I picked up a camera it was an epiphany: I could be out in the ocean and in nature and still be creating. I started shooting at around 19 years old and it wasn’t until I decided to quit my job and give everything to photography that it really took off. I originally wanted to be a landscape photographer and I think that shines through in most of my work.
My setup isn’t what many would deem traditional, but my thought process for gear is mainly about ease of use. I want all my gear to be functional so I can produce images easily. This will ultimately mean I’ll not only produce more images but also will produce more authentic images at the same time, which is always a goal.
I’ve shot almost every camera system at some point in my career but for the past 5 years I’ve been shooting Sony exclusively. I’ve always been an advocate for smaller gear – the less you have between you and your subject, the easier and more authentic the moment you capture will be. While my kit changes depending on the assignment, this is pretty much my main, basic kit:
– My backpack varies quite a bit depending on the activity. It’ll vary from a bag in the fstop series to a bag specifically designed for the activity I’m shooting.
– Main Camera Bag (Crumpler Camera Pouch) w/ Mountainsmith Daylight Lumbar pack
– Sony a7R II – This is my main body. I shoot with this 80% of the time. There is so much sensor packed into such a little body, in many ways it’s a dream camera for myself! This camera is my workhorse and has well rounded capabilities that make it perfect for almost any style of shooting; from action to landscape this guy can more than handle it.
– Zeiss 24-70mm f/4 made for Sony – This is the lens I use the majority of the time. With such great focal length, it allows me to capture multiple styles of images without having to switch out lenses.
– Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 made for Sony – I use this lens as a solid wide angle for capturing some of my combo landscape/surf shots.
– Zeiss 35mm f1.4 made for Sony – This lens is incredibly fast at f/1.4. It works phenomenally well under low light conditions when I don’t want to grab the Sony a7Sii.
– Sony a7Sii – This is my low-light body. I shoot this in low-light situations or for astrophotography. Thus the lenses I shoot with it tend to be fast so I can get clean night exposures!
– Sony 28mm f/2 with Sony 16mm f/3.5 fisheye adapter – The fisheye adapter with this lens makes for some really sick images when you want an ultra wide look.
– Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 – This is a really awesome lens, as it has superior auto-focus capability then my other two lenses for this camera. Additionally I’ll use this lens of my Sony a7R II during the day as well if I want a wide and fast lens with good bokeh.
– Rokinon 24mm f1.4 – This is my fast lens that I’ll use for my astrophotography. At f1.4 you get incredibly clean images but it’s entirely manual focus which means it takes a little more setup to get things looking sharp!
– Sony a6000 – I use this when fast frame rate is a necessity! I’ve shot it for skiing, both in and out of the water for surfing, and even landscapes. It’s an incredible camera in a tiny body and I absolutely love it!
– Sony Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm f/4 – This lens is basically the smaller version of my 24-70 used with the Sony a6000’s APS-C cropped sensor. When getting those action sequences from far away, this is the go to.
– Sony 10-18mm f/4 – Wide angle I’ll use when getting up close and personal with the athletes! It serves well to pair this with the Sony a6000 as I’m able to capture some really amazing “in-the-moment” shots right alongside my subjects.
– Nikon AW1 with Nikon 1 AW 10mm f/2.8 and Nikon 1 AW 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 (Not pictured)
– This camera will sometimes come with me depending on what I’m shooting. I love having a small camera that I can get unique perspectives with without the hassle and setup of a water housing! This little camera allows you to shoot submerged or partially submerged angles without any setup!
– Really Right Stuff Head w/Benro tripod
– Extra batteries for Sony camera – Can never have too many batteries, especially when you’re shooting all day out in the wild and don’t know when you’ll be getting back!
– Lucroit Graduated Neutral Density filter
– Hoya Neutral Density filter
– Hoya Circular Polarizer (Goes on every lens practically, love how it cuts reflection!)
– Essential kit with cables, converters, chargers, AUX cable, USB wall charger, lightning pin adaptor
– SPOT Global Phone and GPS locator
– Lightweight Petzel Headlamp
– Memory Card wallet with Sony and or SanDisk 64GB or 128GB
– Goal Zero Venture 30
– WD hard drive and case
– Black Diamond Storm headlamp
Additionally I made a video a while back revolving around packing for a cold water surf trip, you can see that here.