His new photography book about Alberta, Canada, is a beautiful portfolio of his unique style –dramatic, inspiring landscape, with a human or two dwarfed in the foreground. His photographs simultaneously expose the beauty of the places he explores and encourage viewers immerse themselves in the great outdoors and allow nature to overpower the senses. To Burkard, immersing himself in Alberta involved nights spent under the stars, kayaking, polar plunges and a perfectly composed frame of each moment.
A senior staff photographer at Surfer magazine, Burkard has traveled the world documenting outdoor sports and adventure. Last year, Smithsonian magazine interviewed him about his trip with cold-water-surfers in Norway. I checked in with him again this year to ask about his recent trip to Alberta.
Were you mostly in the backcountry in Alberta?
We went through national parks like Jasper and Bamff. It was insane – such a cool project. We drove for two weeks through the region and explored as much as we could.
You and who else?
Just me and a friend. So much of my work is about going to explore a different perspective of a region, and that’s what the two of us were able to do. I try to go places where I can engage and be a part of my surroundings. So that’s what we did, and we were able to spend a lot of time exploring.
Take me through your process from arriving in a location to taking the shots that you are happy with.
That process comes down to what I’m doing beforehand. Sometimes, we’re exploring Google Earth, looking at trail maps, looking at photographs, just trying to examine everything we can, and looking into any place that might be of interest. In Alberta, we planned ahead of time.
We sat down and said, “we want to go to this canyon, this hot springs, see these waterfalls, this mountain range, hike this trail…” so when I get there, I have a better idea of what I want to shoot. But another big part of my process is also leaving myself open to experiences that just happen – the fun, exciting stuff that occurs at the last minute. It’s a mixture between being prepared and being available to experience things”