How To Succeed As A Freelance Creative: Chris Burkard Interview

Meet Chris Burkard:


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

I started shooting photos when I was 19 years old. I realized that it enabled me to do art in a mobile state, to explore and adventure, and show people the beauty in the world around me. I got an internship at Transworld Surf magazine which was an incredibly valuable experience. Through trial and error, I taught myself and began to develop a style. Hard work, persistence, and having passion for what I do has taken me a long way. For the first part of my career I slept in my car and commuted 5+ hours for internships! I later worked for Surfer Magazine as a Staff Photographer (which I still am now) and have done my own projects since.

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


For all of the budding and aspiring creatives out there, 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 I my body was shutting down and I was about to go into hypothermia because. It’s exactly in those moments when 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.




To see more of Chris’ work, check out:





 Interview by: Charles Post


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