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Finding Joy & Fulfillment In Ice-Cold Surf Photography | Chris Burkard TED Talk

By Hanssie on May 25th 2015

Chris-burkard-TED“Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer, just a little bit – Chris Burkard

Passion. For those of you just starting out in photography, you will probably recognize the look of passion. You thirst for the knowledge to learn all you can about your new camera and its workings. You take your gear everywhere you go – from the park to your dentist appointments – hoping to capture some great images. You find joy in going out and shooting any day of the week, any time of the day. But for those of you that have been in it for a while, the ones who find that it’s been weeks or months since you’ve grabbed that camera for anything other than a client; those that wonder if the bag full of expensive equipment you were once so excited about, perhaps you’ve seen that passion waning. And you wonder if you’ll ever get it back.

Whichever camp you happen to fall in – or somewhere in between – at one point or another we’ve experienced both sides of the spectrum.



Surf and adventure photographer Chris Burkard was living the dream – traveling to exotic locations, enjoying the sun, surf and sand and doing what he loved as a surf photographer. At 19 years old, he had quit his job and was living the life people were envious of. But he began to feel suffocated and unfulfilled the more he traveled to these places that were filled with tourists and the trappings of life. He began to challenge himself and look for a way out of the mundane and away from the monotony.

In the following TED Talk, Chris Burkard shares how he found joy in the icy waters of some of the remotest parts of the world. Now 28 years old, Chris is inspiring people, not only with his amazing imagery, but with his story on how he found his passion and joy by embracing the suffering.

In life, there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit, and that tiny bit of suffering that I did for my photography, it added a value to my work that was so much more meaningful to me than just trying to fill the pages of magazines. See, I gave a piece of myself in these places, and what I walked away with was a sense of fulfillment I had always been searching for.

Whether your passion is in the ice-cold Arctic or somewhere much warmer, it might take a bit of suffering to find your way out of the monotony. Just hang in there.

Watch Chris Burkard: The joy of surfing in ice-cold water

Check out Chris Burkard’s work on his website here.

[Via PopPhoto]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Paul Blacklock

    the ice blocks make nice reflections

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  2. Jesper Ek

    Amazing pictures.

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  3. Gabriel Rodriguez

    Thanks for posting this Hanssie!

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  4. Kevin Nguyen

    Awesome speech with great motivation!

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  5. claude laramée

    I’m Canadian and still I was cool watching this :-) I agree, only what cost you, gives you a sense of fulfillment.
    GREAT pictures !

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    • Graham Curran

      I agree that making some sort of sacrifice – including time and physical effort – imparts worth and fulfillment but I do think that at times Chris Burkard was bordering on irresponsibility by becoming borderline hypothermic.

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  6. Graham Curran

    I can do cold with the right protective gear but leaping into cold water is a different matter altogether.

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  7. Barry Cunningham

    Yeah, but it’s cold!

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  8. Brandon Dewey

    I love the images!!!!

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