Taylor Burk is a photographer based in Vancouver, Canada. Primarily a landscape and adventure photographer Taylor Burk travels to amazingly scenic corners of the world to capture his images. He spends a great deal of his time in the mountains and is an avid climber, which only furthers his opportunities to take incredible photos.
I, along with hundreds of thousands other followers, discovered his amazing adventure and landscape photos on Instagram. This week he was kind enough to spare me his time answering a few questions about his career and thoughts on eco-travel.
Landscape and Adventure photographer Taylor Burk also shares handpicked, stunning from his travels.
Has outdoor adventure always been a part of your life?
Not really, it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered my love for the outdoors. When I turned 18 I escaped the city life that I grew up in to travel abroad for a year. I wanted to meet new people and try new things, to see what I was potentially missing out on. New Zealand is where my world spun upside down, instead of going to the clubs every weekend I would head into the backcountry. I’m forever thankful for the people that introduced me to the outdoors and helped me get started.
Are you able to pinpoint a time when you got the passion for photography?
One of the main reasons I own a camera now is due to Instagram. When I downloaded the app in 2012 I found a joy in taking photos and then sharing them with friends and family. From there my newfound passion of shooting iphone images eventually grew into a career in photography.
Do you have a favourite environment to shoot?
Mountains. I grew up in the prairies so I didn’t see mountains very often. Whenever I had the chance to visit the Canadian Rockies growing up I would be left in awe by their scale and presence that demanded your attention. I find that the mountains, in all shapes and sizes, challenge you, teach you and humble you.
What has been your most memorable trip?
One that sticks out is when a friend and I were climbing up a canyon wall in Jordan and he blindly reached around a corner and punched his fist through a massive hornets nest. Within seconds we were engulfed by hundreds of giant angry hornets who wanted their revenge on us. After nearly falling off the cliff we managed to jump into the river below with over 20 stings each head to toe. Thankfully neither of us are allergic!
Do you have a process for choosing your field-trip locations?
I tend to head to lesser known areas, off the beaten path. I will scour maps, guide books, google earth and other resources to dig deeper and try to find what others may have looked over.
Have you had any shots that have been particularly challenging to capture?
Portrait photography is challenging for me. I have recently been wanting to photograph people more, particularly in natural environments. It’s a learning experience but I have been seeing a lot of improvement which is nice!
Do you still have places you still want to go?
I have a never ending list of places! A few that stick out; The Torngat Mountains in Newfoundland, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar and more of the Coast and Rocky Mountains in Western Canada.
Do you ever go out without your camera?
All the time, it’s important for me to go on hikes and climbs purely for the sake of disconnecting and being outside. Since photography turned into work I’ve had to take breaks from my camera so I can balance it out.
From your travels, have you noticed anything that has given you environmental concerns?
Plastic pollution for sure. I’ve done a couple of trips with the Ocean Legacy Foundation to help clean up remote beaches littered with marine debris along the BC coast. Seeing it first hand and physically spending days cleaning it up has helped me dramatically reduce my useage of single use plastics.
Where do you notice plastic pollution the most?
It’s everywhere in the world. My girlfriend and I were just in the Grand Canyon, and even down there, somewhere so pristine, we found an incredible amount of plastic bottles littered along the banks of the Little Colorado River. It will eventually make its way into the ocean all the way from Arizona.
How can the message be spread about our use of plastic?
It can be spread by anyone, anywhere. You can tell your family and friends about it, you can share your thoughts on social media, you can write articles about it, etc.
I found the best way to go about it is by sharing what I am seeing on instagram without being too preachy, hopefully people being exposed to beautiful landscapes littered in plastic will make them think more and question their own consumption. I do find that it isn’t until something affects you personally that any real change is going to be made.
What advice or message would you give to travellers about exploring while being ecologically responsible?
Learn the Leave No Trace principles, be aware of the impact you’re having and try to travel with intention and purpose. How can you leave it better than you found it?
Is there a risk that social media brings too much foot traffic to particular locations?
You can easily love a place to death, it is happening all over largely due to social media. Crowds are getting bigger and the parks don’t have the proper resources and funding to keep up. Many trails are getting crowded, littered and people are poorly interacting with fragile environments. The best thing to do is educate others about LNT principles when possible.
Do you have any big trips lined up in the near future?
This year I’d like to do more human-powered adventures. Less flying and more hiking and biking in “the backyard”. Still doing a lot of planning and scheming. Stay tuned!