World traveler, photographer, and adventure seeker Chris Burkard resides in California and works as a staff photographer for Surfer Magazine. Earlier, we had the pleasure of featuring some of Chris’ surf images and travel photography, which can be seen here.  

Chris has always had a passion for staying active, and through his images, one can see the amount of dedication, thoughtfulness, and eagerness he has for exploring new environments. “Photography has played a huge role in my life, taking me to places I never dreamed I would see and learning from cultures throughout the world. It has become an extension of myself, allowing me to be part of the action while documenting the stories I experience along the way. I am drawn to the places that seem untouched by outside culture or even human influence. Places that have such a unique culture or landscape that it feels like no place you have ever been.” 

Recently, Chris traveled to Cuba to shoot for the clothing brand Roark. During his visit, he was able to explore the city of Havana and document locals in their everyday routine. The resulting images give an up-close-and-personal look into a vibrant and cultured city. Whether shooting a surfer glide through the barrel of a ten foot wave, trekking to a remote region in the arctic, or documenting the street life of a bustling city, Chris is able to capture moments that make one feel as if they are part of the experience. Read on to learn more about Chris and his recent trip to Cuba.  

All of the remarkable imagery below was processed using VSCO Film™

Tell us more about your trip to Cuba. What was your itinerary? What was the purpose of the trip?

I went there on a shoot for a clothing brand, Roark.  We stuck mainly to Havana and made the most of the city, skating, cliff jumping, and taking in the beauty and culture. They wanted to really experience the place as a local would and we just explored the streets doing as many things as we could and interacting with as many people as we could. The culture was so inviting and we enjoyed getting a glimpse into the life they live.

What were the things that you enjoyed most about Cuba?

I was immediately blown away by the lighting and color in the city. Time seems to stand still there. I played some soccer on one of the first nights with some great spirited local boys. Another great memory there was jumping from the great ocean road in Havana. It was both funny and scary. Overall the trip was eye opening. I met some amazing people and I look forward to going back someday.

You are a prolific surf and action sports photographer. How does shooting documentary style in a foreign country compare to shooting action sports? Whatdo you like about the challenges of each?

Shooting action sports is all about capturing peak action and being in the right position.  Shooting documentary style in a foreign country you are trying to capture moments as well but it happens in a different way.  In both situations I try to make the environment the hero of the shot. I enjoy the sport in itself of being in the water

and shooting surfing.  It heightens your senses physically.  In a place like Cuba it awakens my sense of wonder and gets my brain working. When on surf trips I often am shooting everything surrounding the surfing as well. This allows me to photograph documentary style of the culture and places. I try and create an authentic image that I can share with someone who isn’t there. Finding the moment that a person lets you into their life and shows their true self is what I look for as I shoot new environments and cultures. 

Your images of people in Cuba are very natural and unposed, even when they are looking at you or into the camera. How are you able to capture such natural imagery being a traveler and obvious outsider.

I try to be a fly on the wall and not draw much attention to myself when shooting.  Sometimes I will walk around with my camera and snap photos as we walk, but other times I will not even have it out and establish a bit of a relationship with a person, interacting and eventually pull my camera out and they often feel more comfortable because they have gotten to know me a little first. I try to make my subject feel as relaxed and natural as they would if a camera wasn’t there.

Having travelled all over the world for various photo projects, where are some places you’d like to go that you haven’t been yet?

There are so many places I want to still see. Most of them are remote and in arctic regions. I’d love to go to the Alps and the Svalbard Islands of Norway.

Why do you choose to edit your images using VSCO Film?

VSCO Film™ really can transform an image unlike any software I have ever used. I feel Cuba has a real sense of mood and can transport you to a different era.  VSCO Film can have that same effect.  The two pair so well.


Favorite places to shop:

Stag, Svpply, Patagonia, B&H Photo, REI, Orange & Park