A love for adventure that was instilled in him as a child, Chris made a life-changing decision when he quit his job to traverse the globe for a year. Today, as an Olympus Visionary, he gets to partner his two passions – photography and adventure. Check out his story below.
Say hello to Chris:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
Hi, my name is Chris Eyre-Walker! I’m originally from Belgium, but these days, I’m based in Sydney, Australia.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
Hard to tell…I’ve spent the last five years travelling all around the world and that is probably the hardest question to answer. Each country has its places worth remembering. The Faroe Islands, Nicaragua, Montenegro, South America, and New Zealand are probably some of my favourite places in the world to take photos. I’m working hard to expand that list.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I don’t really have a “bucket list” these days. The more you travel, the “list” of things that inspire you to create something new gets longer.
How would you describe your visual style?
Outdoor, adventure and travel – it’s such a common style these days, and that’s okay. Never would I stop anyone from being inspired by my (or other people’s) work to go out and experience their own adventure. And I think that is what my style represents, what it aims to inspire – the outdoors, adventure and travel.
Besides nature, where else do you find your inspiration?
Passion. I think passion is the source of all inspiration. Working with passion and/or passionate people that care so much for the things they do is what inspires me the most. It is so great because it means we can all push each other to create new things. Moving images have really been pushing my inspiration lately. Photography is such a flexible and fast-changing platform. Each modern camera is capable of so many different things that go beyond traditional photography. I think modern technology is incredibly inspiring and seeing how different people make use of different features these days is what inspires me to push those features for the things I create.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
See above. Haha. No…well, I think surrounding yourself with the right people in the right place is what gets you motivated and inspired to create. If you don’t know what to shoot, then find people with a passion for something…anything!
You had the opportunity to intern for renowned photographer, Chris Burkard – tell us how that transpired and what impact that experience made on your photography.
I had the huge opportunity to intern for Chris in 2015. The internship required me to move to California for three months…so I dropped my life in Sydney and bought a van, and basically lived next to Chris’ studio near Pismo, CA. The internship was an office job. Together, with another intern, I basically managed his social media accounts and pretty much all the emails that came his way. The biggest lesson learnt from my time with Chris has to be that a successful photographer is so much more than just a man behind a camera. It takes a tremendous amount of passion, drive, and intention in every single bit that you do to become anything close to what Chris has become. I think the time with Chris taught me that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. Something I thought I knew…but I really only understood after the internship.
Tell us about your role as an Olympus Ambassador and Visionary.
Ever since I ditched my heavy DSLR gear and invested in an Olympus mirrorless camera system, I’ve been in touch with the amazing people at Olympus Australia. After a few years of growing that relationship and proving that I was capable of creating original content for Olympus, I had the chance to join the Olympus family. As an Olympus Visionary, I have the honour to represent Olympus with and through my work. Olympus has really helped me with some of my recent passion projects and also helps with getting my work out there and linking me to the right people, brands, and companies. I think it’s important to note that I’m an Olympus Visionary as a result of what I have created with their technology, and not because I use their technology. I think a lot of people get confused about that when they aim to work with brands.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
I’m a self-taught photographer. Through my parents, who chose a modest life back in Belgium and picked experiences over “things,” I had the chance to travel a lot as a kid. Always accompanied by a camera, of course. I never took photography too seriously really. But then, at the age of 17, I bought my first DSLR and fell in love with photography. I’m quite a control freak and never had my camera on anything but Manual mode. I’d rather take bad pictures in the process of learning how the camera mechanics worked than let the camera decide things for me. At the age of 21, I quit my job at the Belgian Army and packed my bags to go travelling around the world with my best friend. Nowadays, I regret that I didn’t take more pictures on my travels back then. But I also know it’s the passion I discovered for travelling during that first year that made me want to combine my passion for photography and live a life that allowed me to travel as much as possible. In 2013, I moved to Sydney to live with my partner, Freya, and soon landed a job as a product photographer. In my free time, I started shooting surf. Things got more and more serious, and I knew that I wanted to make a living doing the things I was passionate about – travel and photography. I’ve been working on that dream ever since.
You specialize in outdoor, adventure, and travel photography – have you dabbled in other types of photography?
I used to shoot products for a living and I helped build up the leading product photography company in Australia. I would shoot anything from fashion to some of the most expensive jewellery. I loved that my first proper job already involved my passion, but I struggled with being indoors all day. The studio job allowed me to invest in underwater housings and start shooting surf and underwater work. I would go out almost every morning for sunrise and shoot surf and then head to work, shoot products all day, and then go back out in the late afternoon to shoot sunset…I quickly knew I had to find a way to drop the studio work to fully invest myself into the outdoor work.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
I don’t think my photos stand out particularly much…there’s too many good photographers out there these days taking great images. But what most people don’t understand is that a successful photographer requires so much more than just taking good pictures. It’s never just been that, of course. But nowadays, a photographer has to be a businessman, videographer, editor, networker, computer guru, etc. I think being consistent, professional, and confident at the things you do is what makes you stand out. There’s no golden ticket to success. I believe in hard work and a passionate but steady climb.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
Not really a shoutout, but I’d like to thank my girlfriend, Freya. She’s been travelling with me for the past 15 months and is probably the most patient person I know. She features in a lot of my work and has to put up with standing in the same rainy, snowy, or hot spot for hours on end so I can get the right shot… I think that deserves a shoutout. 🙂
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
I think a great photographer is a great storyteller. The best photos are the ones with a story that goes beyond what you see. Great photographers will begin the description of one of their photos with something like: “Oh this shot happened shortly after we were released from captivity after being taken hostage for….” Now who wouldn’t want to know what photo or story this guy is talking about? It doesn’t matter how technically correct that shot is – it will get your attention, and I think that, ultimately, is what a good photo is about.
How do you express yourself through your photography?
I try to represent a sense of adventure in my photography. Sometimes, more than other times. It’s important to me, personally, that the experience of capturing the images is an adventure too. If I know that the images aren’t “real” – in the sense of, I didn’t have to go on an adventure to capture it, then the story isn’t real either.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
Not sure…I haven’t taken it yet.
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
Shoot more! Care less.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
- Learn to recognise the right moment, then…
- Shoot more in the right moment!
- Work for and with the people you admire.
What kind of gear do you have?.
A camera should be a tool that helps you achieve your vision – it should never get in the way of it. As an Olympus Visionary, I shoot with Olympus cameras and lenses, of course. I use the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M5 Mark II, and all the M.Zuiko PRO lenses. Mostly, the 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO and the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO. I love those cameras and lenses because they give me total creative freedom. Not only are they incredibly small and light, but they’re also weatherproof – something that’s top priority to me. There’s nothing worse than gear limiting or getting in the way of what you want to create.
What is your most life-changing event?
Deciding to quit my job and travelling the world for one year. It took a year, but I realised that “being happy” had to be priority above anything else in life, if I wanted to live a complete life.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
Absolutely! It’s allowed me to follow my passion for travel and live a life I could never have imagined ten, even five years ago. And it keeps taking me to places I never thought it would. So yes, it’s changed me. I hope for the better….
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
I hate getting up early in the mornings.
What will you be doing five years from now?
If I knew that, I’d probably have to change something about my life as I type this.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
That would probably be completing the last week of Para Commando training in the Belgian Army. We walked 135km in four days with over 40 kg on our backs and without sleep or food while climbing, abseiling, and crossing rivers. It was the most physically and mentally challenging experience I’ve gone through in my life…. Nothing can stop you after that.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Ride a motorbike from Belgium to Australia.
For anyone who wants to get in touch with Chris, here’s some contact information:
Chris, thanks for sharing your story with us!
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.