August 29 2016

The ocean represents one of the last areas of wilderness

by Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard, professional photographer, explorer, creative director, speaker, and author, shares his thoughts on the inspiration of the ocean and landscapes he captures in his photography, part of Surfrider's artists t-shirt series now available at

What initially motivated and drew you into photography? 

Growing up on the Central Coast of California, I didn’t have the opportunity to travel much and was always inspired by the ocean and the rolling hills around it. As a photographer, I think one of my biggest goals has always been to show locations and pay tribute to the landscapes we find ourselves in. 

What inspiration does your photography draw from our ocean, waves, and beaches?

My entire photographic career began because of the ocean. I remember one of the most exciting moments was when I first got a water housing, or casing, for my camera. Shooting surf images from the water requires a deep knowledge of the ocean and the mechanics of waves, which only increased my fascination with our coastlines. Many of my favorite photographs illustrate the vast nature of our environment, which I first discovered from spending time in the sea. Anyone who has spent time on the open ocean understands that when they are out there, they are not in control, the waters around them are. 

What life experiences have resonated and really made a difference in your life or your photography?

In my 20’s, I had some experiences while traveling that taught me quickly that I wasn’t invincible. It’s the real word and if you want to be part of it you have to be ready for bumps and bruises along the way. To me, that’s the essence of life, the moments that leave us with scars. 

What does the ocean mean to you and why should it be protected?

The ocean represents one of the last areas of wilderness, as it is a place that is not, and will never be, fully understood or controlled. That doesn’t mean, however, that we do not have to fight to keep it pristine. Protecting our oceans is a crucial step in ensuring the planet remains habitable for the next generations.

Why do you feel it's important to support the Surfrider Foundation and our mission?

Supporting Surfrider is a tangible way to protect the coastlines many of us have grown up enjoying. 

Check out Chris Burkard's artwork and Surfrider's artist t-shirt series at