At the age of 24, Taylor Burk has already traveled by himself across New Zealand, Australia, China, Thailand, Central America, Croatia, Slovenia, Canada and the western United States — often times without having to pay.
Such is the life of a professional travel photographer, an occupation Burk didn’t even realize he was destined for until he turned 20.
“It honestly just kind of happened. I never gave it too much thought,” he said.
Burk grew up in Edmonton in the province of Alberta, Canada. He said he was shy as a kid, but always curious to try new things, especially with a camera in his hand.
“Whenever people asked me to take pictures of them I was always very focused and into it,” Burk recalls. “I would try to find a cool frame and a good angle.”
Burk saved his money in high school and then decided to travel after graduation. When he was 20 he took a trip to New Zealand that he said was life-changing.
“I was going around the country on these adventures taking pictures on a cracked iPhone and I really enjoyed it,” Burk said. “It opened up my eyes.”
When he got home he downloaded Instagram and started uploading his pictures.
“I wanted to show my friends what I was doing and inspire them to get outside,” he said.
Burk quickly gained a sizable following on Instagram, inspiring him to take more trips and more photos. He decided to get a day job as a plumber to help fund his passion, but when his following began creeping into the hundred thousands, other opportunities came knocking.
“I was getting offers for all these freelance photography jobs that made me take time off work,” Burk said. “It got to the point where I figured I should just quit my job and do this full time.”
In December 2014, Burk went professional. Now he lives on the road, taking pictures of the world as he sees it.
“I am super grateful to be able to do what I love,” Burk said. “This is what life is all about.”
Burk said through his work, he wants to inspire people to push outside their comfort zone.
“I want people to embark on their own journeys and see this world for themselves,” he said.
Burk hopes that one day, his work will be iconic in a way that “people will just be able to look at it and know it’s mine.”
Over the next month Burk will travel to Eastern Canada, Hawaii, and Iceland to take photos that he will share with his 215,000 Instagram followers. For people who want to live life like him, Burk has one piece of advice: ask questions.
“Never be too shy or too embarrassed to ask questions and put yourself out there,” he said. “You will be surprised how much people actually want to help.”
Burk said he relishes every day he gets to travel the world taking photos.
“This just proves that if you want anything really badly you can make it happen.”
His only regret? Not picking up a camera sooner.