Photographer, Family Man, Climber, Traveler; Salt Lake City, Utah
Andrew Burr, Climbings Senior Contributing Photographer, never had any professional training. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in geological engineering, he worked as a hydrologist for the USGS. After three years, Burr left the field to pursue his photography dreams. Despite his blind tumble into the shooting world, Burr has received international recognition, including the 2009 Memorial Maria Louisa Golden Asturcon Photography award from the International Mountain Photography Competition in Spain [for a Zion ice-climbing photo he shot for the October 2009 issue of Climbing]. Originally from northern California, the 32-year-old now lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Laurel, and daughter, Kaia, whos almost two.
I NEVER REALLY understood why people had to go to school for photography. You either have a vision for it, or you dont. I guess you could learn the technical aspects of it, but that doesnt seem to make a photographer. I dont see the correlation between having a college degree and being able to take a good picture.
I STARTED FROM NOTHING. I didnt know anybody in the climbing industry or anything about being a professional photographer. I started sending four slides a month to magazines, and eventually they recognized my name. But I was shooting blind to start.
IM AMAZED that its worked out for six years or so now. I dont know if Ive seen that big break yet. Its a slow evolution. It wasnt just one shining moment or contract that told me Ive made it. Now that Ive stayed above the red [financially] for a few years, I know its happening.
IM A NATURAL-light guy. Ill go out and shoot with flashes every once in a while, but I feel like it detracts from the climbing experience. My goal is to document the experience, not be a hindrance.
THE MORE OF A PAIN in the ass it is to get that picture, the more satisfaction I receive from it.
IM SOMEWHAT ENVIOUS of the guys who can travel around for months at a time, road-tripping and shooting, because I defi nitely dont have that opportunity. I basically have to go out and nail it when I have that time window because I dont have the ability to hang around and wait for things to come together.
MY FAVORITE CLIMBING AREA is always somewhere new, whether its in the States or overseas.
IVE LEARNED THAT no matter how beautiful or ugly the climb is, theres a way to get a cool photo out of it. If you show up with preconceived notions, youre done.
I THINK ALL CLIMBERS wish to be great surfers, but every time I try it, I drink a lot of ocean. Its really humbling.
BACK WHEN WE WERE shooting slides, Id mail in random slides to the magazines, and the majority of the time, theyd come back rejected. So I have a big stack of those. Its kinda cool.