chris burkard

Top 10 Spots to Take the Perfect Instagram Photo

Photography: Chris Burkard

Adventure photographer Chris Burkard shares his top locales around the world for the angles that will make you into an Instagram hero. 

Starting out as a staff photographer for Surfer Magazine, Chris Burkard would pitch photo shoot concepts in remote destinations, using photography as a way to get him to places he always wanted to see and experience. Ultimately, he began sharing his best shots across social media, leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool that would eventually land him some of his biggest gigs. What separates Burkard from most others using the platform to achieve similar goals is that he goes beyond double taps and comments, inviting his fans to workshops, meet ups and live screenings and slideshows of his work.

Like most professional photographers, Burkard’s Instagram is largely a collection of his commissioned pieces, shot on DSLR cameras and then uploaded later. 

Below, Burkard’s top strategies to capture the perfect ‘gram at ten idyllic locations across the globe. 

chris burkard

“For this photo, it was perfect sunset lighting that gave Morro Rock a rich, warm orange color. Framing-wise, I made sure to give depth to the photo by including the coral reef rocks in the foreground, the perfect A-frame as the mid-ground, and Morro Rock as the background landscape with perfect sunset skies all across.”

chris burkard

“A lot of folks would be confused when I tell them I went to the Kamchatka region of Russia to find waves. But more than that, I found the most beautiful sunset and clouds I’ve ever seen in my life. To achieve a shot like this it’s all about having the right exposure. I think the best way to make the photo come alive is to shoot the cloud with some human element to give the clouds in the back some perspective, offering the viewers a true sense of size.”

chris burkard

“This image is probably my best surfing photo I’ve shot in my whole career. Everything lined up perfectly in this one moment when Alex Gray carved up a beautiful wave with the Aleutian Volcano in the background. The main key is to have steady hands as you track motion and the best way to eliminate blur is to shoot with a fast shutter speed.”

chris burkard

“The Faroe Islands can be found sandwiched right in between Norway and Iceland. There is something unique about their beauty, like this stunning waterfall ebb flowing down into the sea. There is a perfect little ledge a slight hike from the falls where you can walk out and get the best angle.”

chris burkard

“I’ve recently been shooting more aerial photography and this view from up above of the Grand Prismatic Springs in Wyoming still makes my jaw drop every time I look at it. Here I’m holding onto my camera for dear life as I shoot out the door of the heli. I literally squeeze my camera with a death-grip because I don’t want to lose it above the sky. With so much movement and shakiness that happens in a heli I have to shoot really fast, at least 1/1000th of a second shutter speed, to freeze any motion and blur.”

chris burkard

“While riding in a helicopter with wind chill of -50 degrees I stuck my camera outside and started snapping photos of Mt. Assiniboine during sunset. To shoot in such cold conditions, heated gloves have saved my life (and photos) countless times. I’ll toast up my hands for the whole shoot and when it comes to showtime I’ll pull my hands out of the oven mitts and start shooting away. In order to deal with frost, lens fog and other weather related issues, you need to let your camera equipment acclimate to the weather it will be shooting in. Hot or cold, if a camera changes temperatures too quickly there will be problems. I like to keep my equipment in a cooler overnight before a shoot like this to let it adapt to the weather.”

chris burkard

“This Navajo man sits atop his horse while waiting for the sun to rise above the rock formations of Monument Valley in Utah. Getting the best sunset shot is really trial and error. You can’t be afraid to shoot into the sun because you’ll get some varied exposures that offer different looks and lighting. The sun flares also make for interesting composition as well.”  

chris burkard

“Even with roaring waves and tempestuous tides in Chile, this surfer was still able to ride down a crashing wave allowing me to snap the shot and freeze a moment in time. Fast shutter speeds and steady hands are key, and a tripod makes a shot like this really come together.”

chris burkard

“The snow-capped mountains of Big Sur were a rare sight to see, especially living in Central California and never seeing white powder that close to home. This was shot a little bit before sunset, which gave it a bit of directional light that hit the mountains perfectly and offered a unique light contrast.”

chris burkard

“I’ve seen the Northern Lights a handful of times in my life, but they never cease to amaze me - especially when you have the majestic snow-capped mountains of Norway serving as an awe-inspiring backdrop. A tripod is a must for shooting at night, especially if you’re trying to capture the stars. The exposure will change depending on your location as there might be light pollution where you are at or even the moon can wash photos out. A good rule of thumb is to shoot wide open to let as much light in as you can. You’ll also want to keep your ISO no higher than 3200 or 6400 to minimize any noise that might show up in the final product. From there, you can adjust how fast or slow you want to shoot. If you want light trails, shoot longer but dial in the exposure so you’re not overexposing and vice versa.”

Stay tuned for more of Chris Burkard’s photography in our June issue of The Red Bulletin magazine.

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