“It is important for you to share your voice and your unique outlook through your art.”
tells me Christopher Kerksieck when we speak about what things he would like to change in the world with art. The Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada based brand and adventure photographer´s work transmits this feeling of perfection that can otherwise only be found in nature itself. So we decided to speak to him about the reason for choosing his profession, about skinny dipping with elderly french folks in Iceland and the meaning of a real adventure.
You are a brand and adventure photographer. Your favourite brand shoot so far and what brands are still on your wish list to work with?
Hey Sigrun! First off, thank you so much for this opportunity as it really means a lot to me! To start off with, my favorite brand so far to work with has to easily be the Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel in Iceland. It was such a pleasure for cinematographer Ryan Neal Cordwell and I to work with such a kind hearted and open staff. They trusted us to guide them and to create beautiful content and they were so thrilled with it all! You can see the video we crafted for them here. Some brands that are still on my wish list to work with are Mercedes (specifically the G-Class), Levi Strauss, and the Juvet Landscape Hotel in Norway.
Did you always want to be a photographer or were there other options for you regarding the choice of profession?
There were definitely other options I considered. I only recently got into the profession (really just a hobby at the time) of photography roughly a year ago. Photography really never seemed like a legitimate option for me at the time. My Dad thought I was absolutely out of my mind when I was growing up between not applying myself in high school and proclaiming my unrealistic dreams!
Until that point when I turned 20 last November, I wanted to be a youth and young adult therapist. Something that is very close to home and a constant battle in my own life, both personally and creatively, is mental illness. I suffer from manic depression and bipolar disorder and until about 3 months ago I never wanted to talk about it or acknowledge that something was wrong with me. So it’s actually a profession that I could explore in my future as I would love to help that kid (much like me in high school and even currently) who is feeling so many things but doesn’t know what to do about it or how to express themselves.
Has the reality of being a photographer lived up to your expectations?
At first it didn’t because I set up such unrealistic expectations but as of late I have been able to shift that perspective into something productive. I am extremely hard on my work, and I am always pushing myself to extreme levels to become a better photographer – and in a lot of ways it’s taught me so many life lessons. I knew it would be a grind since the market is so flooded, but at the end of the day I really think it is about being relentless at your craft.
“…how the darkest moments in our life are followed by light. How we can literally shift our perspectives and mental momentum as humans and as creatives by staying relentless at sharing our vision with the world.”
You have fantastic photographs about Iceland –a place I have always wanting to visit for its wonderful nature and solitude places. Has it been one of the best places that you have been to and what was your experience with being there?
I have to be honest, when I got back to Portland, OR I was pretty depressed. The great part about spending an extended amount of time in another country is you don’t get trapped as a tourist. I was able to dive into the country head first and really understand Icelandic culture and the environments it produces. From skinny dipping with elderly french folks, forming a bond with a wild arctic fox, to our Land Rover tires exploding in the highland desert, and of course all the beautiful friendships that were made – I can’t tell you how many times a day I dream that I am back in Iceland learning and exploring life.
You are part in this photography conference in March 2016 called the millennial summit. There is this key sentence that I just read about it “We believe that the next generation of artists holds the power to change the world.” What are the things that you would like to change in the world with the help of art?
I can’t speak for all the incredible creatives that are leading this workshop, but something a dear friend of mine and teacher in this workshop David Talley talks about regularly is how the darkest moments in our life are followed by light. How we can literally shift our perspectives and mental momentum as humans and as creatives by staying relentless at sharing our vision with the world. That is a large part of what we will be teaching at The Millennial Summit – that no matter what you are going through, it is important for you to share your voice and your unique outlook through your art.
One of the things characterizing our society nowadays I think is this urge for travelling and adventure. At the same time as everything is so easily available for us the feeling of a real adventure sometimes is not so easy to be obtained. You being an “adventure photographer” how do you feel about that? Are you on a constant search for adventure and is that what is mainly nurturing your work?
I think there is this big community stigma of what is considered an adventure or not. To me, an adventure can mean anything – since it is personable to you. Do I personally think there is a difference between driving to a location, getting out, taking photos, getting back in your car, and going home and actually sleeping in your car for weeks on end seeking the parts of the world that aren’t necessarily right in front of you? Absolutely. Does it matter what I think? No, because adventure is in all of us and it’s up to each of us individually to define what that word means.
And what has been one of your best adventure experiences so far?
The best adventure I have been on as of late was a week and a half long road trip with my good friend Bruin Alexander through Canada, Montana, and Wyoming. Right at the start we got held by Canadian border control for 2 hours because saying you know each other through photography sounds like the easiest cover up ever. It was just really good time having meaningful conversations with a new friend although we got almost no usable content. We also listened to “Clay Pigeons” by Blaze Foley at least 45 times.
Your goals as a photographer?
To be able to teach others. Simple as that.
Who do you admire?
My biggest inspirations so far through my creative career have been Vivian Maier, Alex Strohl, and Jared Chambers.