I love this shot because it captures so well what it is like to work on Survivor. Creator Mark (Burnett) refers to our team as the “Worlds greatest adventure crew” and I think this photo speaks to that title. These guys live on the beach with the contestants while enduring the elements. Rain or shine they never fail to get the shot, usually with a big smile on their face.
Tension on the high seas during 'Survivor: Pearl Islands'
(Show creator Mark) Burnett rarely gets rattled anymore, but this day was a stressful one. We were moments away from kicking the contestants off the side of a boat into the ocean. We had already been battling tide issues when one of our key POV cameras had gone out. Fortunately we got it fixed in time and Mark didn’t lose too much hair.
Contestant Jenn Lyon and Jeff Probst on Palau in 2004
Jenn Lyon was one of the most beautiful and most likeable contestants we’ve ever had on the show. We became close friends years later. Jenn passed away from cancer in 2010. Monty Brinton took this photo and it really captured her essence.
Executive producers Mark Burnett and Jeff Probst in Nicaragua
Now that we’re in our 22nd season, Mark doesn’t come to location quite as often, so when he does it’s a big deal. He’s much more relaxed these days and seems to really enjoy watching the show he created play out.
Crash landing on 'Survivor: Cook Islands' (2006)
After a challenge, one of our camera guys dared me to give the zip line a go. I decided to one up him and go one-handed. Clearly that didn’t work out so well.
Just keep swimming
When you have a day off on Survivor, you take advantage. I love scuba diving and remember this day because the Napoleon fish kept circling me to say hello. Our challenge producer John Kirhoffer snapped this shot.
Ready for takeoff on 'Survivor: Redemption Island' (2011)
This is the moment just before we shot the open for our 22nd season. We were about to load the contestants onto the helicopter and doing a last safety check. We have an amazing team and I am often awestruck when I think about what we accomplish year in year out.
Final touch-ups on 'Survivor: Redemption Island' (2011)
Monty Brinton shot this photo inside the Redemption Island Arena just before the first duel of our current season. The smoke provides a powerful and spooky backdrop. What impresses me most is that our art department created the entire ruin in the background.
Prepared for anything on 'Survivor: Amazon' (2002)
Mark has always been incredibly gracious in allowing me to have a voice in the show, especially in the early days when we were forming the show. We’d spend a lot of time just talking about all the different ways a certain moment might go down so that when the contestants showed up and took over, we were prepared.
Take me to the river on 'Survivor: Palau' (2004)
One of the great perks of the job is that we spend a lot of time on the water. We started the 10th season of 'Survivor' with me in the Captain's seat trying to hit a mark in the ocean!
Blast to the past on 'Survivor: Palau' (2004)
Palau was the site of a famous World War II battle and the ocean floor is littered with the wreckage from the fight. This Japanese Zero plane was one of many in the area. I took a scuba dive on a day off and thanks to the incredible clarity of the water was able to explore a part of our country’s history.
In the classroom on 'Survivor: Guatemala' (2005)
I became friends with the kids in the village where we were shooting. Near the end of the shoot we showed up with a bunch of school supplies for each student. After handing them out we had some fun playing “Superman!” These are the moments you never see on the show, that make 'Survivor' one of the greatest life adventures you could ever experience.
Jeff Probst and Scott Probst on 'Survivor: China' (2007)
Perhaps the greatest perk of all is working with my brother, Scott. He’s worked in the art department for several years. When you’re away from home as long as we are, having a family member on the crew is really comforting. We took this shot inside a hand constructed bamboo cone that was built specifically for a challenge.
For good measure on 'Survivor: Amazon' (2004)
This was a challenge where the two tribes (men vs women) had to catch as many piranha as they could in 5 minutes. We go to great lengths testing and rehearsing every 'Survivor' challenge. This one involved a “Survivor” scale (right side of frame) which is not to be confused with a normal, reliable scale so we had to ensure it was accurate.
Jeff Probst in Palau in 2004
This shot still makes me laugh While shooting our 10th season of Survivor, we came across this old challenge left over from a Japanese version of Survivor that had shot there previously. I couldn’t resist hopping up on one of the posts for a photo. Note: When we are finished with a challenge we take it down and we always leave a location better than when we found it.
Jeff Probst and Fijian students in 2006
As part of a reward challenge, a few contestants brought supplies to this school in Fiji. After the contestants left and went back to their camp, I stayed around and had some fun with the kid in the classroom.
Warriors on 'Survivor: Kenya' (2001)
Only our 3rd season. The local Samburu warriors played a big part in the show. I became friends with Charles, the guy to my left. He asked me to send him a digital watch when I got back to the states. When I told Charles that the winner of Survivor received one million dollars, he paused and said “A million dollars…I would be King of this land.”
Playtime during 'Survivor: Kenya' (2001)
One of my all-time favorite memories. One afternoon, we went to visit a local family. They invited us inside their hut made of elephant dung and acacia branches. I played with their kids for hours with the only toy they had, a well-worn tennis ball. When I see the smile on my face I can recall the joy of that day.
David Dryden and Jeff Probst on 'Survivor: Pearl Islands' (2003)
David Dryden is our Senior Producer. He is responsible for making sure our cameras capture every shot at challenges and tribal council. Before each challenge we talk about the various places I might end up during the challenge so David can make sure to tie me into the action. David has been with the show since season two and has played a huge part in the look and success of our show.