Tofino | Chris Burkard
Adventure Photographer Chris Burkard

Time in the wild can change us, awakening our senses, making us happier, more creative—healthier, even. Just ask Chris Burkard, a California-based photographer, speaker, and author. He’s explored all over the world, but British Columbia keeps calling him back. We recently caught up with Chris to find out why.

Destination British Columbia:  Tell us about your first trip to British Columbia.

Chris Burkard: The whole province feels like a giant national park. The first time I saw it, I was humbled by the waves, the mountains, the tranquility of the rainforests. On my first trip to Vancouver Island, it didn’t take me long to return to that more primal state that comes from being immersed in nature. Being in British Columbia brought me back to an understanding of where I fit in the wilder world in a really freeing way. I went back to BC three times that first year.

 

Tofino | Chris Burkard

Being in British Columbia brought me back to an understanding of where I fit in the wilder world in a really freeing way.

DBC: Where did your love of the outdoors come from? And what drew you to photography in the first place?

CB: My love of photography and the outdoors really came from the fact that I wasn’t able to travel much as a kid. I grew up in a single parent home and we didn’t have a lot of money. The trips that I would do when I was growing up would be to US National Parks; they would be to places like Yosemite and Yellowstone and places we could drive to but I never left the country. For me, travelling was always a form of education. I never got on a plane before I began working as a photographer for a living. With that has always come a great respect for the fact that I can travel and go places.

 

Haida Gwaii | Chris Burkard

I remember tasting the best salmon of my life after that day of surfing off Haida Gwaii.

DBC: You’ve surfed below the Northern Lights in Iceland and trekked sunken volcanic calderas in Russia; what’s one of your favourite memories of British Columbia?

CB: There’s a group of us—all surfers—packed onto a small boat somewhere off the coast of Haida Gwaii. Salt spray stings our cheeks as we cut through the chop in search of a mythical wave. I’m wet, freezing cold, and I’ve never felt more alive. I remember tasting the best salmon of my life after that day of surfing off Haida Gwaii. I think connecting with nature like that is one of the most powerful things we can experience as humans.

Tofino | Chris Burkard
Tofino | Chris Burkard

 

The weather and it’s constant variability kind of forces you to go with the flow. I think that’s what I really love about it.

DBC: When you travel, you have talked about wanting to explore a place versus having a set agenda and ticking off boxes. What advice would you give someone planning a trip to BC?

CB: To me, the beauty of a location like this is it’s diverse and there are certain aspects to the weather and it’s constant variability which forces you to go with the flow. I think that’s what I really love about it. If you go somewhere with a set agenda, you’re going to have the same results as other people. It’s almost like deeming how successful your trip will be before you even get there. I’d rather be the person who has gone to a few places 30 times. That’s kind of how it’s been for me in BC, Norway, Alaska, Iceland—these are the places I love and I would say they’ve taught me a lot about myself

Tofino | Chris Burkard

 

I know I’ll never be finished exploring British Columbia.

DBC: You’ve travelled to British Columbia seven times so far. What do you have planned for your eighth trip?

CB: I know I’ll never be finished exploring British Columbia. I’ve surfed. Seen bears. Heli skied for the first time. And there’s still so much more. I have no idea what the next adventure will bring. That’s the best part—it doesn’t have to be all mapped out. I truly believe nature will reveal itself to you if you are willing to let it in, challenge you, and ultimately, change you for the better.