3 Adventure Photographers Who’ll Inspire You to Push Your Boundaries

A new year comes with fresh resolutions and for many of us, these involve shaking up the status quo and challenging ourselves in new ways. For inspiration, we can take a look at the work of these adventure photographers who do all of this in trying to capture hidden scenes in nature or thrill seekers in action. Whether dangling above a mountain crevasse, staring a bear in the face, or riding giant waves with a camera in hand, these photographers regularly test their physical limits to take on that most unpredictable of photographic subjects – the great outdoors.

The three adventure photographers featured here are among the most skilled in the field, with a remarkable ability to capture images of awe, wonder and raw beauty that one comes across very rarely, if at all.

Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard, 32, a native of Pismo Beach, California, is one of the most famous adventure photographers in the world. Burkard, who grew up surfing, picked up his first camera around the age of 18, and started photographing surfers in action. His undeniable artistry propelled him into the global spotlight, and he hasn’t stopped since.

Burkard’s approach makes his work immediately distinguishable. While most surfing photographs are taken in warm water paradises, this self-taught photographer eschews the conventional in favour of wild and remote destinations — cold ocean waters dotted with icebergs and snow-covered beaches, for instance.

There’s an immediacy and vitality in each of his photographs that’s striking. “The approach I take to my work places a large emphasis on being there and having the experience over and in front of creating the image,” Burkard explains in his interview with Adorama. To this end, he has traveled to six of the seven continents, climbed the highest mountains in Chile, and even taken a dip in frozen Arctic waters to evoke a sense of adventure in his work. “At its best, this ‘experience-forward’ approach leads to dynamic, engaging, provocative images that convey a sense of your actually being there and experiencing it yourself. These are moments people can relate to,” he says.

It’s no surprise, then, that Burkard has over 3 million followers on Instagram, or that his work has been published in countless international magazines, including Surfer Magazine, The New Yorker, Esquire, National Geographic and GQ. Whether in Iceland, Russia, Chile or California, Burkard’s imagery of wild places inspires millions to explore for themselves.

Konsta Punkka

At only twenty-three, Konsta Punkka is already an internationally published photographer thanks to his striking and up close photographs of nature and wildlife. As a teenager, Punkka would go into the Finnish wilderness to try and understand how animals live in the wild. He would spend hours with curious squirrels, foxes, owls, and deer, winning their trust in the process. As a result, the intimacy and vulnerability in his candid portraits of wildlife subjects are extraordinary. It has earned him an incredible million Instagram followers.

Punkka believes that sheer perseverance is the key to a perfect photo. Speaking to Colossal, he says “My main goal always is to try to capture the emotions and feelings my animals feel while I take the photos of them … All animal portraits that I have taken have been done with trust between me and animals. And with patience you earn the trust.”

He’s had to go to extreme lengths to maintain this commitment to being respectful of wildlife and nature. He once spent two days stretched out on a wooden hide, eating only bread and not talking to anyone to capture the perfect shot of a bear. In another interview, he talks about this approach and its results: “Weather, light, background, timing – it all has to be right. It’s a matter of sheer luck as well as experience…Sometimes, I hunker down for hours in a position and still don’t come away with a good result. Other days, I shoot tons of pictures and the memory card is full of usable shots.”

Patience, in the literal sense, has clearly paid off for Punkka in his work, allowing him to capture the secret lives of Nordic countryside wildlife in many stunning images. His work reminds everyone to pause a while and pay a little more attention to the outdoors and the creatures that inhabit it.

Krystle Wright


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@highsteph ascends The Joker 5.12d on the outskirts of Moab, UT.

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Australian photographer Krystle Wright travels to far-flung locations throughout the year in her quest for adventure shots. It’s no wonder that this extreme action photographer considers the road her home. Wright got her start after a job shooting BASE jumpers at the Baffin Islands and realised she wanted to pursue adventure photography full-time. Since that epiphany, she’s gone kayaking in Mongolia, paragliding in Pakistan and free diving with whales in Portugal for her work, photographing the most extreme sports and athletes across the world.

What makes Wright’s work exceptional is not the exotic locations or extreme conditions, but the palpable energy in each photograph. This is a result of her drive to capture raw moments of fear and bravery that arise when people push their boundaries – often by testing her own as well. Dangling over the edge of a 60-foot waterfall, soldiering her way through blizzards, hanging from a helicopter — there seems to be nothing Wright won’t do to capture epic shots.

Getting involved in every sport she photographs is also key to Wright’s incredible pictures of athletes. “I believe you can’t just sit on the outside and expect to take great images.” she tells PetaPixel. “For me to properly document an expedition, I want everyone to feel comfortable with my presence and trust that I will respect them and capture the best images possible.”

Her bravery, determination, and drive is paying off. Wright’s photographs have won her many awards and accolades. Her work appears in Inside Sport, National Geographic, Outside, The Times, Red Bulletin and outlets all over the world.

On a final note…

Collectively, the work of adventure photographers is a testament to grit, perseverance and courage. This intrepid group shows us that ultimately, the real adventure in life is uncovering possibilities we didn’t know existed.

This article is part of an effort by ScanCafe to shine a light on unusual photography and photo memory projects around the globe.