Christopher Burkett

Christopher Burkett


An internationally recognized expert in the Cibachrome/Ilfochrome color-positive photographic process, many believe Burkett to be the finest color darkroom master in the history...

Christopher Burkett


Christopher Burkett has labored for over four decades to create what many regard as the most impeccable and luminous color photographs in the history of photography. Devoted to making each photograph by hand from 6×6 and 8×10-format transparency film, using the now-discontinued Swiss Cibachrome photographic paper, Burkett has produced some of the most archival, as well as the largest and highest resolution color photographs ever created.

After spending nearly a decade in a monastic community, Burkett realized that his ultimate vocation was to present the light that he could see in the world around him to others through the medium of photography. Choosing the unaltered pristine landscape as his primary subject matter was a considered and intentional decision, as was Burkett’s eventual resolve to commit his photographic effort to color, rather than black and white. “The world was created in color” is Burkett’s succinct explanation, and it is his abiding intent to present the world itself, unveiled in its ultimate reality/radiance, rather than imposing his own personal interpretation. Burkett painstakingly devoted himself to preserving the veracity of his images, striving to show the viewer what he “saw” firsthand in the American wilderness. In one memorable image, “Twilight, Virgin River and Zion Canyon, Utah,” the photographer was inspired to invest five years of technical effort before considering the resulting image to be an accurate, worthy visual semblance.

Gifted with a contemplative spirit as well as painter’s eye, Burkett has an uncommon ability to capture the natural world in a manner that simultaneously reflects “the world behind the world” as Minor White and Paul Caponigro might have put it. And although Burkett has been compared by curators to American color landscape photographers Eliot Porter and Ernst Haas, whose genre of American landscape photography he extended, neither of them exclusively developed their own film, nor attempted the darkroom standard clearly in evidence upon viewing Burkett’s original Cibachromes.

In his most recent decade, Burkett has turned his attention to a series that he refers to as “the museum collection.” Limited to an edition of fifteen, these Cibachromes are individually handmade in historically unprecedented dimensions, ranging from 40×40″ and 40×50″ to 24×62”. Burkett considers these photographs the summit of his darkroom achievement and appreciates their inclusion in collections of museums and public spaces where they can be more closely examined by scholars, curators, and reach an ever widening viewing audience.

Museum Collections include: Portland Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Center for Creative Photography and Tucson Museum of Art.


"Cibachrome (Ilfochrome Deluxe) was discontinued by Ilford in 2011, with the last production batch delivered in 2012. I bought a large supply of material, which is stored in a warehouse, and withdrawn as needed for printing. However, once it's gone, it's gone forever. The manufacturing process required unique, very expensive equipment which has been dismantled and many raw production materials are no longer available. I have enough paper and chemistry to allow me to continue printing for a few more years but will begin to run out of material for some specific sizes before that.

Cibachrome is a unique printing material, with a luminosity and depth that I believe to be unsurpassed by any other photographic print medium. While I am sad to see the end of this era in photographic history, I feel blessed to have been able to use this remarkable material during my entire photographic career. I am grateful to the individuals who purchased prints during the past 30 years and for their enthusiastic support and love of my work. It is my intention to continue to make Cibachrome prints as long as my health and printing materials allow."

Christopher Burkett - June 30, 2013

Original Photographs

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