Chris Burkard
The desire to always be busy goes beyond passion and the need to make a living. In many ways it's a defense mechanism for dealing with harder things. Adjusting to the fact that I chose my career over friends at a young age and lost touch with people that meant a lot to me. The feelings of being an inadequate father since I didn't know mine. | Photo: Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard: “What is joy without pain?”

The noted photographer searches for higher meaning through work… 

Everything comes at a cost. It’s not a secret that at times in my life I have put work first. A workaholic? Yeah, maybe.

I’ve often tried to make sense of my need to continually create art and travel. The desire to always be busy. It goes beyond passion and often the need to make a living.

In many ways it’s a defense mechanism for dealing with harder things. Adjusting to the fact that I chose my career over friends at a young age and lost touch with people that meant a lot to me. The feelings of being an inadequate father since I didn’t know mine.

I burnt bridges and during the process of traveling lost who I was hoping that if I looked deep enough and traveled far enough I would find myself again. This isn’t fun to write. It hurts to think about. All along I have had this feeling that maybe I could work my way out of it all… that all it would take is a little more effort.. so I kept pushing. And If I got to a certain point.. a certain level.. maybe I would end up with a fresh start.

So why share this ? Well, is everything on social media meant to be picture perfect? What is joy without pain? What have I learned?

Maybe nothing.

I struggle with this every time I step onto a plane or grab my packed bags by the door. I’m learning more and more how to find balance and separation between work and life.

Constantly trying to decide internally what my intentions are. Am I running from something or am I going to bring back something worthwhile? If everything you experience…everything you internalize and feel way out there in the world isn’t shared with those you love then who does it serve?

If you choose this path as a career. These are questions you might want to ask yourself. You might want to consider what you really hope to find.. out there.

(This story first appeared on Chris’ excellent Instagram account. I liked its electricity, it’s openness. Hence it appearing on BeachGrit.)

Your pal gets hit? Grab that leash and staunch the bleeding. | Photo: @mattmeola

How to: Staunch a Shark Attack Wound!

Matt Meola responds to shark attack on Friday with a leash as a tourniquet. Effective!

Shark attacks on Maui ain’t exactly a hypothetical. Six attacks so far this year, and two this week. Late on Friday, a thirty-six-year-old surfer and pal of Maui jibber Matt Meola, Frederico H. Jaime, got hit by a five-foot shark at Hookipa Beach, bites to the arm and leg. Nasty as anything. Make the blood run cold, oowee don’t look at the photo etc.

Maui News reports,

At about 5 p.m., a surfer looked over after hearing a man scream and saw a 5-foot reef shark biting the surfer’s left arm, Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said Friday evening. The shark let go and then bit the man again in the left leg.

Other surfers came to the victim’s aid and helped paddle the man to shore. He was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center in serious condition, said Taomoto, adding that the arm injury was the more serious injury.

Beaches were closed along a 2-mile stretch from Maliko Bay to Tavares Bay, Taomoto said. Firefighters and conservation officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement cleared the ocean of surfers at the beach park and will warn people against entering the water until an assessment is made this morning.

This is the sixth shark attack this year on Maui and the second in a week. A 66-year-old woman, a part-time Kihei resident from Washington state, was the apparent victim of a shark attack Oct. 14 off Charley Young Beach in Kihei. She suffered severe injuries to her lower left leg and was hospitalized.

The woman was swimming about 20 to 30 yards offshore between Charley Young Beach and Cove Park in about 7 feet of water at the time of the attack, according to fire officials. The ocean was calm but murky.

What’s interesting about this attack is how the surfers responded to the injuries. A leash is used as a tourniquet, while Matt Meola uses an iPhone to film the treatment. Modern, yes, but helpful as a training video on what to do if a pal gets hit.

Watch here!

Jeremy Flores to sweat it out in round five against Conner Coffin. But, says Parker, it don't matter. He'll final! Against the father of four with a fat wife…  | Photo: WSL

Portugal: “Kolohe vs Flores Final!”

Do you believe that magic still happens?

From the mist of early morning, day four of the Portugal Pro greeted the world. Sloppy stormy surf blew its spray skyward. Into this nightmare twelve brave men would embark. Battling each other, proud warriors, each hell bent on claiming victory.

Ugh, that was terrible.

It’s well overhead at Point Fabril, looks mushy and lumpy. But the moment the camera swings a couple degrees away from head on you can tell it’s not mushy at all. Lumpy and powerful. Some sections are heaving, some are dribbling. Makes for a challenging surf. Sometimes a top turn will see you bog and flop, sometimes that lip will kick straight out and blow you off your feet.

It’ll get better, Turpel and Pottz promise. But it doesn’t really look too bad. We’ll see a ton of swooping carves. Gorgeous in some hands, not so much in others. A few guys will probably find tubes. Maybe we’ll get lucky, the tide will bottom out, and it’ll turn into gnarly scary barrels.

If John John makes the final, and Jordy doesn’t win the event, Florence takes the crown. A simpler way to put that is Florence wins if he makes the final but Jordy doesn’t. Is that actually simpler? Or even correct?

Parko, Andino, and Julian to kick things off. In this sort of big open wall I give the advantage to Parkinson.

But, shit, Chloe is surfing good! Goes straight up on his first turn of the heat, air drops a hefty distance back down. Follows with a snap, a carve, and a cutty. 7.38 seems fair.

Parko’s right behind him. Slightly smaller, cleaner face. He looks a little off. Still pretty Parko steez, but Andino will get the nod on this exchange. 6.0 for Parko.

Dang, I’m no Kolohe fan, but I’m calling him and Flores in the final. It’s what my gut’s telling me.

Julian’s already caught two waves. Fell on one, the other wasn’t so good. Number three ain’t great neither. One very good vert bash to start, couldn’t follow up with much more. Standard turns you do on a shitty section.

Kolohe’s third wave is a heat killer. Nine point zero. High, I think. Not really that much better than his first. Pottz seemed to agree. But solid, and better than what the other two managed in the same set.

Parko found a frothy almost-barrel. I’d count it. You would too. But he’s better than us. An eagle among pigeons, beak and all. Three nine three.

Wilson’s… oh man, I wish there was a channel angle. Good tube ride. Bucking bronco style. But it pinched and he went down and it doesn’t count for anything. 1.8.

Ten minutes left and Andino’s combo’ed the field. Turpel is asking Pottz for duck dive tips. All Pottz has to offer boils down to “Do it deep.” Very useful.

Wilson goes balls to the wall off the bottom. Gnarly turn, lip lands on his head but he keeps his feet and rides it out. Only a 4.93. But cool as kittens, nonetheless.

Wave catching flurry in the final minutes, only Joel betters his early score. Finds the foamy brown room through multiple sections, comes out and does a big swooping roundhouse. Very good wave, but he never really disappeared from view and that’s what the judges want to see, I guess. 7.1 that maybe could’ve gone higher but wouldn’t make a difference anyway. He gets out of combo, but can’t win the heat.

Kolohe is through to the quarters. Parko and Wilson into the losers bracket.

John John Florence, Michel Bourez, and Adriano de Souza should be a screamer of a heat. Each is damn good in this type of surf. Florence is Florence, maybe he’ll do an air off a double overhead section. Bourez has the muscle to obliterate some lips. De Souza plays it smart and does well in surf like this.

Except life rarely cooperates with our expectations.

Not much happens in the first ten minutes. Bourez fails to make a barrel. Adriano gets caught and blown off his feet while bottom turning slightly too high around a section. Jay Jay Eff gets the first real wave of the heat, a low effort turn to floater combo the judges think deserves a 5.17.

Kolohe’s goatee/mustache, Oakley, Red Bull hat look works. If he were a father of four with a fat wife who spends his weekends at the river hooking catfish.

Then follows up with a “diamond in the rough” drainer, finishes it with a high speed kinda-almost-upside-down-for-a-split-second re-entry. Eight point five. Gonna be hard to beat that.

Kolohe’s goatee/mustache, Oakley, Red Bull hat look works. If he were a father of four with a fat wife who spends his weekends at the river hooking catfish.

Michel and Adriano struggled to catch up to Florence, and failed. Double John on a snap snap snap. Pushing hard off the bottom, displaces so much water it looks like he’s got an offshore assist. It’s a 7.83. Combos the other two with five minutes left.

John John running up the beach after his heat was amusing. Security guard looking super serious. Waving his hands like a loon. “Out of the way, motherfuckers!”

Only the beach is near empty. No one is getting in the way.

Wanna bet he’s an off-duty cop? He’s got that “I’m a total asshole” look they love to rock.

Flores/Pupo/Seabass. Surf’s getting worse, not better. Surface picking up some ripple. Uh oh.

John John says, “Potagee,” during his post heat interview with the most beautiful woman alive. Corrects himself. Classic.

Low scores and wipeouts for the first twenty minutes. Flores grabs the first keeper with a little over sixteen minutes left. Two turn combination, second of which is a glorified speed check. 5.83. Seabass behind him with one good turn, then the wave comes apart at the seams. Three something, I think.

The next set’s looking good. All three surfers find a keeper score. Pupo fades the takeoff, hits the brakes, finds a nice barrel then half-carve airdrops below the end section. 7.5.

Flores gets the next one, does three not-great turns, but does them in the right spot. 7.33.

Seabass on number three, gets a better barrel than Pupo, but doesn’t do a turn at the end. 7.47. I think it should have been a 7.6. Pupo’s turn wasn’t really anything. No reason he should get an edge.

But Pupo’s next one is the best looking wave of the heat. Open wall, does some good turns. Judges gift him an 8.93. So his win is locked in. Not likely Seabass or Flores will find something better.

They don’t, and they’re both surfing Round Four.

Wilko’s hanging around the event. He’s on some Kafka shit, looking more and more like Filipe Toledo with every pound he sheds.

As Matt Wilkinson woke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a Flying Llama.

Final heat of the round. Stu Kennedy/ Conner Coffin/ Jordy Smith.

Kennedy’s the weak link in this one. Should come down to a fight between Jordy and Conner.

Coffin grabbed the lead early with a pair of decent waves. Kennedy found a square looking tube for his first wave. Jordy sat out the first half, waited for something good.

Doesn’t find it on his first wave. Just milks the thing to the beach, fails to impress. But the judges think it deserves a 5.83. They’re completely wrong.

Conner falls on one, StuKen does two turns for a low-as-you-can-go four.

Jordy grabs the last wave of the heat, does three turns and claims it. Gross.

But the judges buy what he’s selling, give him a mind boggling 8.83.

I have no clue what’s going on. Stu Kennedy won that heat. Jordy doesn’t think so, but he’s wrong.

Parko and ADS are up for the first heat of Round Five. Surf’s not great. Starting to close out. Travis Logie knows, says they’re going heat by heat.

Parko falls on his first. ADS does one very good turn, one okay turn, and finishes with a solid reo. Takes the lead early with 6.5.

Parko followed with a long barrel, can’t make it out of the end section. Only gets a 3.07. Would’ve been a heat winner if the lip hadn’t caught him.

ADS’s next one sucked, but he needed a back-up. Found it in the form of a 2.5 for two terrible turns. This one’s a wave catching contest.

He betters that on his next wave. Does a quick backside floater, rides the whitewater until it reforms as a right on the inside. Milk man cutback, frontside floater. 3.4.

Joel needs a 6.83 to take the lead, uses his priority to keep ADS off an okay looking left. Does a few turns, wave doesn’t really cooperate. He only gets a 4.5.

One minute left, Parko gets one more shot. But it’s a shitty head-high closeout. He pulls the ripcord off the bottom, and Adriano wins.

Shitty heat, wrong call. Should’ve ended after the last one. Bad luck for Logie.

That’s it for the day. Hopefully tomorrow will bring something better.

Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.83, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.10, Julian Wilson (AUS) 9.43
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 16.33, Michel Bourez (PYF) 8.70, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 5.70
Heat 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 16.43, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.16, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.20
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.66, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 10.86, Conner Coffin (USA) 10.84

Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.90 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.57

Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal Remaining Round 5 Match-Ups:
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 4: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)

Upcoming Meo Rip Curl Pro Portugal Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Adriano de Souza (BRA)
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. TBD
QF 3: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. TBD
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. TBD

Blonde Ambition: JJF closes in on crown!

Go John John go!

And did you happen to catch John John Florence’s round 4 heat vs. Adriano de Souza and Michel Bourez in the early/late hours (depending on where you live)?

Did you?

John John crushed his competition! Decapitated them and early by dragging his bulbous bottom into a tube and across ADS and Michel’s outstretched necks. Pottz declared, “He’s on fire!” with that trademark growl that has been missing as of late.

He loves John John very much as does the rest of our surfing world and hopes for a first of many grand championship.

Even Brazil stands and cheers the Blonde Ambition. “Ir Jon Jon ir!” The country shouts in unison! Vanquish us! Destroy us please!

There will be wonderful analysis from our dear Rory Parker later in the day but just watch this heat right here in full and without distraction.

History is nigh.

Update: My eyes won’t dry!

You are breaking my heart WSL CEO Paul Speaker. But I'm coming to your house!

Damn you WSL CEO Paul Speaker.


I know it is just the hurt talking. I know that my acceptance letter may still be in the mail. I know it all in my head.

But my heart aches! It burns! I sent my application to be your number one man, your right hand, your coffee getter, international travel booker, neck massager four days ago…


And still haven’t heard back.


You heartless son of a bitch.


I have it all! I have a passion for and basic knowledge about professional surfing. I can figure out the time zone difference from here to Australia. I can put out the fire in your Samsung Galaxy 7. I can work a computer. Your needs will never be put second and not even for a second.

Is it because you are sexist? Is that why you haven’t hired me? Because you are racist?


There is no good reason. None. You and I were supposed to be together forever. I’ve started buying polo shirts you know. And wearing khaki pants and tassled loafers. I’ve started talking like a weird corn fed kook. Like I’m from Iowa. Like you. Just exactly like you. We’re the same Paul Speaker!

The same!

Is my acceptance letter still in the mail? Maybe? Should I come to your Venice adjacent apartment so you can tell me “Yes” in person?

Oh that’s what I should do!

I’m on my way dearest Paul Speaker! Bringing a bottle of champagne! See you soon!