As MSN International's photo editor, Charles Brewer knows all too well that great images not only tell stories, but also grab and hold a reader’s attention. He’s been involved with editorial photography professionally since graduating university in 1999.
After joining Times Newspaper as a photographer and picture editor, Charles was involved with a series of News International’s digital start-up projects. He then went on to become the chief photographer and picture editor for News Limited’s breaking news website in Australia, news.com.au, in 2007. After 8 years spent overseas, he left the Australian shores and took up his current position in London in October 2014.
Asked to describe his typical day in the MSN offices, Charles says: “I’m part of a global team so there is always someone chasing me for something from the minute I sit down until the moment I shut down. Whether it’s coordinating breaking news coverage, assisting our producers in locating the best images to add to the packages they are working on or reaching out to photographers or agencies, my days are as varied as they are hectic.”
As a man who’s seen his fair share of striking images, Charles says he has a clear favorite style, “I’ve always had a passion for documentary-style bodies of work – stories told through pictures, narratives exposed through the diligence of a photographers’ work and their connection with their subjects.”
He sounds enthused about the role of mobile photography and the rise of social media in recent times, saying: “Sometimes the most amazing moments happen when a photographer is away from their pro-gear. Ubiquitous and ever-present, mobile photography adds another arrow to the quiver of the vigilant photographer – always on the lookout for that next great frame. Naturally, the always on, ever-connected culture in which we now find ourselves has led to a plethora of ways to not only digest visual content but create it as well. Great imagery has never been more readily accessible and while it’s easy to become overloaded, there is fantastic work at every turn if you know where to look.”
His advice for Red Bull Illume entrants is simple: “Show me something I’ve never seen before – dazzle me with your originality and vision.”
As MSN International's photo editor, Charles Brewer knows all too well that great images not only tell stories, but also grab and hold a reader’s attention. He’s been involved with editorial photography professionally since graduating university in 1999.
As a teenager, Jeff Baker tried to get into photography, but his high school wouldn’t allow it. His schedule was packed with advanced placement classes so Jeff’s academic counselors didn’t permit him to take any art electives. “I was kind of bitter about it really,” says Baker, now 32 years old.
He followed that strict academic track all the way to the University of California, Irvine, where Baker was pre-med with his sights set on being an optometrist. To make a long story short, he basically flunked out of the program, started snowboarding and switched to a liberal arts major that allowed time for electives—and you guessed it: photography classes. After graduation, he moved to Mammoth and spent his time shooting hot local snowboarders. While shopping his action shots around, freelance-style, Baker landed a job as assistant photo editor at Snowboarder magazine.
Before he knew it, the dotcom revolution lured away nearly the entire Snowboarder staff and Baker was left to take charge as photo editor with just a year of experience under his belt. He quickly learned the ropes and ultimately, in 2004, left with his friend Mark Sullivan to establish Snowboard magazine. These days, at the helm of Snowboard, he’s in charge of everything from photography to design to editing and writing articles.
On new trends in photography:
“Less Darkroom, more Photoshop. If a person wants to get into photography, he needs money, rather than the eye. Not that cool, but it’s the sign of the times. Evolution, I guess. Not too many clients or magazine’s want film these days, so digital is a must.”
Weird Jeff Baker Factoid:
“It’s a fact that it is impossible to shoot a picture of me with a flash where I do not look completely baked. My eyes just squint on every photo. I can’t control it. My eyes see the flash and the camera catches me right before I blink. So I’ve challenged all the professional photographers I know to shoot a picture of me where I don’t look totally stoned, but no one’s been able to do it.”
The elder statesman of skate photography, Grant Brittain has been capturing the seminal moments of the skate scene for the past 25 years. Odds are, growing up you had at least one of his photos plastered to your wall. Grant’s historical shots, especially those of the Bones Brigade era, are still being published in magazines today. And they remain as potent as ever.
Though Grant has one of the most beefy pedigrees in the industry, his rise to photography fame was all a bit unintentional. “I’d skated since I was a little kid but I was always into art and thought I would be a cartoonist or artist,” he says. “Then when I started shooting skate photos that light bulb went off, just like in the cartoons. I was 25 when I picked up photography and it was totally by accident. I never thought I’d be working for a magazine.”
In 1983, Grant was asked to contribute some of his skate photos to the inaugural issue of Transworld SKATEboarding. He did so and soon became the founding photo editor and senior photographer. There he stayed for 20 years, pumping out some of the finest skate photography until 2003 when Grant and a handful of the TWS staff made a mass exodus to start The Skateboard Mag.
Grant is still going strong, even after being in the middle of the skate industry for more than two decades. Skateboarding is a world that thrives on youthful energy, and that, in turn, keeps Grant feeling young too. Skating is his life. “I just love the style and the look of skateboarding and the feel of it. When I’m around people that aren’t skateboarders, I feel kind of weird,” he says. “And when I’m around other fifty year olds, I mean, what do we talk about?”
What makes a great photo?
“A photo that makes me want to go take photos or go skateboarding.”
Most embarrassing photo moment:
“I was shooting at a Del Mar contest, and you know it’s pretty compact around the pool and my foot was sticking out during someone’s final run. I don’t remember who it was but he ran over my foot and ate it, and the whole crowd just started yelling at me. Most of the people knew me there. The locals and the skaters knew me, so half of the yelling was in fun but the other half didn’t know who the hell I was. That’s one of those moments where I was totally embarrassed. I don’t want to be a part of the action—I just want to be documenting it.”
Words of wisdom: "Grab your viewer by the neck and pull them into the photo—make them feel like they're doing it. "
For National Geographic Adventure Photo Editor Sabine Meyer, "A picture is worth a thousand words " is not so much a maxim as it is a literal description of her career. Raised in Sarreguemines, France, Meyer was accepted into the graduate program at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 1989, where, while concentrating on magazine writing, she took some photography classes "just for fun. " Yet what began as a secondary interest quickly developed into a new professional direction. Her keen ability to use photographs not as accompaniments to text, but as a vital part of the storytelling process, has earned her accolades from the American Society of Magazine Editors and also secured her positions with magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Worth, New York magazine and Adweek before she accepted her current position six-and-a-half years ago. "I'm interested in the story as much as the images, " she explains. "[At National Geographic Adventure] the photo editors are involved with putting together the narrative. Having been on the writing side and having had to work on [story] leads, I tend to function the same way with pictures: What's going to be the opener? What elements do I need to build a story visually—characters, issues? "
When she's not behind the light table, Meyer is definitely outside, enjoying everything from snowboarding to kayaking to inline skating, which allows her to step away from the traditional ways of evaluating photography and into the role of the active viewer. For her, action-sports photography is "more engaged, not contemplative. You as the viewer have to feel like you're the person on the bike, the kayak. You become the action figure in the photo. Photographers need to break that distance. " Meyer also continues to share her knowledge with aspiring lensmen and editors, teaching photo editing and documentary photography at the International Center of Photography in New York as well as running an internship program through National Geographic Adventure.
On action sports' softer side:
"I think the trend that's emerging is a blend between what used to be extreme-sports photography and lifestyle, travel—a softer approach. I think people successful today are people who have tremendous technical skills, but are also athletes who can put themselves in place for the right angle. Knowing how to light a basketball court is not enough anymore—[photography today is] very sophisticated and hip. There's a blend of visual culture with technical skills. "
Partial to: "I'm a huge sucker for a punch-you-in-the-face action shot."
Raised in the mountains of the Western U.S., Men's Journal Director of Photography Rob Haggart fell into his career as a means to keep active in the sports he's always loved. Growing up in Idaho, Haggart moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1991 "to be a ski bum," he laughs. Years of experience skiing and rock climbing led him to photo shoots with legendary local lensmen Wade McKoy and Bob Woodall, where, while acting as both subject and assistant, he got interested in the business side of photography. Haggart hooked up with friend Steve Casimiro to edit photos for Core Sports magazine and, later, with John Byorth to do the same for Hooked on the Outdoors, while continuing to coordinate freelance shoots and connect athletes with top-quality local photographers. His work with Core Sports attracted the attention of Outside magazine in 2000, and they invited Haggart on board as photo editor, where he remained until coming on staff with Men's Journal in 2005. Over the years, Haggart has received awards for photo editing from Graphis, American Photography, the Society of Publication Designers, Communication Arts, ASME, and PDN, and was chosen creative team of the year by Ad Week.
Coming from the other side of the lens has given Haggart unique perspective on selecting photos for outdoors-focused publications, and authenticity is his first priority. "It's a huge advantage because when we talk about stories, about places and people and ideas, I can envision all those things because I've seen them [firsthand]. I can tell about [the subject's] clothing and their skis, if they're current, or if people really know what they're doing [action-wise]." What he loves most about being behind the scenes, however, is pairing a talented shooter with an equally talented athlete. "The best thing you can do is to connect the perfect subject with the perfect photographer," he says. "When you get a subject that the photographer's really interested in, they create amazing work."
On trading summits for skyscrapers:
Haggart made the move from Outside's offices in New Mexico to New York based Men's Journal in November 2005, and though the opportunity to connect with more and different photographers has been exciting, there are elements of the mountain lifestyle he definitely longs for. "I miss going skiing before work," he admits. "Santa Fe has a really nice little town hill, so we would ski around before work [at Outside]. We'd go rafting on the weekends in the summer, climbing, fly-fishing ...I miss seeing the sky, really."
"Sequence photography has fallen out of favor. There's been a return to the spirit of capturing one exact moment instead of an extended moment."
With the barrage of media attention skateboarding has been receiving over the last few years, it's difficult to remember a time when the sport was considered a deviant, even criminal, activity. But back in the '80s, anyone seen rolling around on a plank with four wheels was, in the public's eye, most certainly destined never to amount to much.
But if it weren't for skateboarding, Matt Houghton, editor of Snowboard Canada (SBC) magazine/editorial director of SBC Media, might never have gotten to where he is today. Growing up near Toronto in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Houghton started skating at age 14 and picked up snowboarding a couple of years later. It was a culture disseminated as much through word-of-mouth as through photos, videos, and print, and Houghton became fully entrenched, devouring every available media. Throughout high school and college he contributed to 'zines as a photographer and writer, produced his own, and made a pivotal decision: to spend the next three winters in Lake Louise, Alberta, snowboarding.
Once back in Toronto, a chance encounter with Perry Gladstone, founder of Limited Snowboards, saw Houghton riding for the team and eventually volunteering his time with Gladstone's own publication, Vehicle magazine; a year later, Houghton was hired as editor. "I was literally 22, 23 years old, with no intention of staying in Toronto," he remembers. "I had no experience editing magazines, besides making my own. I was doing the design, doing the editing, shooting photos, and creating content." When financial troubles forced the magazine to shut down, Houghton began freelancing full-force with such magazines as SBC, TransWorld Snowboarding, Snowboarder, and Stick. He was hired as managing editor of SBC eight years ago, was promoted to editor within a year, and has been overseeing and editing for SBC Media ever since, helping to launch such sister titles as SBC Skateboard.
Houghton works in tandem with SBC Photo Editor Colin Adair, whom he credits with helping to "elevate our magazine to what it is today." The pair makes the final photo selections together, for every issue. "The images in our magazine need to tell the story as much as the corresponding writing does—if there is any, which may not be the case," explains Houghton. "Our readers look for inspiration and excitement within our pages, and the photos need to provide that."
On the perks of the job:
"I have been lucky enough to go on many, many editorial trips (read: an excuse to get paid while snowboarding), all of which have had memorable moments, from the stressful to the hilarious. There was the time I almost ran out of gas in the middle of the California desert, driving from Mammoth Mountain to L.A., with two pro snowboarders, a photographer, and no gas station in sight. There was the week spent WAY up north in British Columbia at Powder King, a tiny, remote, and renegade resort where rules do not apply and the only food comes from a deep-fryer. Heck, the first trip I ever went on for Snowboard Canada involved [photographer] Scott Serfas and [former pro snowboarder and Whiskey legend] Sean Kearns, who warned at the start that ‘things might get boozy.' Lots of deep snow, lots of near-missed flights, lots of laughs, and a few moments that were unsuitable for print."
Admitted addiction: "I am a news junkie."
As the photo editor for Time magazine, Katie Ellsworth has a lot to keep up with. From elections to assassinations, declarations of war to peace treaties, the stories that make up the content of her magazine are in a constant state of flux. Then again, that's what makes her job so exciting. "It changes so much within the span of three days," says Ellsworth of working with current events, "so you're constantly doing something new and trying to gauge what kind of photographs you would need."
Ellsworth is responsible for conceptualizing and assigning the imagery for pieces on everything from stem-cell research to the state of national security - a perfect fit for her politically curious nature. "I have been a lifelong learner and passionate about current affairs," she says. "I remember with fondness getting up early on Sunday morning with my dad to watch Patriot missiles in the first Gulf War." It comes as no surprise, then, that Ellsworth's first news-media position was with Newsweek, where she acted as photo editor for four years before taking her current position with Time.
Judging action-sports photography may fall outside Ellsworth's day-to-day focus, but she's excited about this unique opportunity. "Athletes in themselves are geniuses," she says. "You can read so much more in an action photo, in a senseâ€¦With politics and portraits, it's a lot easier to control your subjects and environment, as opposed to shooting something in the blink of an eye. In adventure and sports photography, you don't get that latitude [of being able to re-shoot] because it's instantaneous. You can't recreate those moments."
Ellsworth is as enthusiastic about seeing the world as she is about representing the people and events in it: "Vietnam is my favorite place in the world: the best food, people, sights, and history. Nepal is one of my favorite places, a bit of East meets West; it's like a place that time stood still. I have hiked in the Himalayas, climbed [Mt.] Kilimanjaro, hung with a Maasai tribe, ridden camels in Diani Beach in Africa, backpacked and hiked on my own in northern Thailand, stayed with a Keran family, and ridden elephants near the Burmese border. I've backpacked through seven European countries, hiked on my own to Machu Picchu [in Peru], hitchhiked in Cambodia, seen Angkor Wat, [explored] India by myself, [and have seen] China on my own."
ON HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING IT, TOO: "I think I have a nice mix of both: I prefer doing more candid and landscape [shots, personally], but professionally I do the intense action photo."
Often in life, we choose between two sides of a coin. And for Kari Stein, Sports Illustrated's photo editor, her two passions couldn't have been more opposite: "It was always between animals and art," she laughs. While pursuing her bachelor's degree in biology at Syracuse University in the mid-'90s, Stein still found time to indulge in a few photo and art classes. But in 1998, she says, a conversation with a friend weighted the scales away from science and in favor of the creative sphere. "I have always enjoyed photography, I've always done it, but it was never something I had thought of professionally," she remembers. "A friend of mine worked here [at Sports Illustrated] and told me they had an opening doing scanning and color corrections." After two or three months in production, Stein made her move over to the light table. "I've always loved hands-on jobs artistically, and I could never decide [between biology and photography]. It got decided for me. I was just helping some people out and they liked what I was doing, and I liked what I was doing, and it worked out really well." Eight years later, Sports Illustrated is still the magazine Stein calls home.
A passion for being outside-when time permits, Stein loves to mountain bike and hike-led her to collaborate with other Sports Illustrated staffers to form SI Adventure in 2000, an offshoot project focused on action and outdoor sports. Though the magazine ceased publication in December 2005, the subject matter is one Stein continues to enjoy. "It was great to work with those people who were so passionate about what they did and were willing to make happen what needed to happen with the picture," she recalls. "In football or baseball, you don't really need to be able to do [the sport itself]. You can really just stand on the sidelines and get the picture. With action sports it's much more involved and intense."
On climbing from the bottom rung to the top:
"I liked where I was at when I started here," says Stein of her rise from color corrections to calling the shots. "The production of photos is really what I enjoy. My one bonus, starting from the bottom, [is that] I know the process from beginning to end, which helps in certain aspects [of editing and assigning]."
Jon Foster started shooting surfing as an eighth grader after his family relocated to La Jolla from Northern California. He filled up his teenage years surfing and shooting and, as soon as he was able, made the pilgrimage to shoot in Hawaii. Foster sold his first image to Surfer magazine in 1970 and kept on freelancing his way through the next two decades.
By the late 80s Foster got wrapped up in the juggernaut that was windsurfing and started shooting guys like Dave Kalama and Mike Waltz during some of the landmark sessions at Jaws on Maui. With five windsurf-specific magazines on the newsstands there was plenty of work for a freelancer with talent like Foster. He eventually returned to the surf world in 1988, when he signed on as assistant photo editor with Breakout, a regional California surf magazine, but was soon pulled into the newly founded Transworld Snowboarding. There he stayed for 14 years as primary shooter and photo editor and ultimately director of photography. Then in 2003, Jon left Transworld to start The Snowboard Journal.
Jon’s biggest photo-related challenge:
“When I started shooting snowboarding, I was learning how to snowboard at the very same time. Back in those days there weren’t too many good teachers, and trying to carry a backpack and learn to snowboard and shoot, there were a few times when I went sliding off the trail into the trees. I had to learn fast because I’d be in over my head.”
His favorite snowboard image:
“Back around ‘94, I shot Jamie Lynn going over this road gap in Norway. It was super gnarly and it’s in black and white. It’s actually the only snowboarding photo I have framed in my house. It has a timeless feel and it’s rad too.”
Get up and go: "I never really aspired to be a photographer who was handed assignments."
Though she is now a veteran photojournalist who has traveled as far as Vietnam, Mongolia, Burma, and Russia to cover stories on the human condition, Senior Photo Editor of Projects for the Los Angeles Times Gail Fisher has always been a student of the world. "I grew up reading the newspaper in the morning," she recalls. "I always was compelled to delve into social issues, feeling like I could make an impact." Fisher's interest in international affairs flourished during her undergraduate years, where she studied photography, anthropology, political science, and sociology. Her cultural awareness, coupled with her passion for current events, prompted her to earn her MFA in photojournalism from Ohio University. "I've always had a curiosity about life and the world," Fisher says. "That curiosity and my love of traveling—photojournalism was a great vehicle to explore that."
More than 20 years later, Fisher continues to travel the globe to capture stories of social distress and triumph, exploring international issues and illuminating their connection and importance to the communities that are their Stateside counterparts. She transitioned from photographer to editor with the Los Angeles Times in 1992, working for the Orange County edition, then made the move to the paper's namesake city in 2002, where she heads up a department committed to hard-hitting, public service-oriented journalism.
From her first undertaking, delving into the roots of Orange County's Little Saigon community by spending a month in Vietnam, to her most recent venture, observing the lives of foster children once they are released from the system at age 18, Fisher continues to dedicate most of her outside-the-office time to long-term, investigative projects with personal significance, often financing the trips herself. Her ability to bring the larger picture into close range has earned her and her staff such prestigious awards as the Angus McDougall Excellence in Picture Editing and Best Use of Photography and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for photojournalism. Fisher was the National Press Photographers Association runner-up Picture Editor of the Year in 2006, and was also part of the L.A. Times editorial team that earned the Pulitzer Public Service award for their work in 2005.
On the A/V crossover:
On assignment in 1997, Fisher was in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar during the Nadam midsummer festival. The experience prompted a radical change in her work, as she explains: "[The Mongolians] were in their traditional dress and they had their gers set up. The campfires were going and the flutes were playing…it was dawn. It was so incredible, but I felt I couldn't capture all the dimensions with a still camera. I got inspired to pick up a video camera and to start recording audio. [After completion of the University of Oklahoma's Platypus Workshop on video], I started shooting video and collecting audio on the next long-term project, on foster care. That background has prepared me for what I do in Los Angeles: I not only edit for projects, but I am also editing for the web, encouraging people to collect audio, from natural sound to narration. There's another platform that we can reach a totally different audience on." Fisher's foster-care piece, "Unadoptable," was broadcast as a two-part series on ABC's "Nightline Up Close."
After fourteen years as the founding managing editor of Communication Arts, Anne Telford moved to the position of editor-at-large and relocated to her childhood home in La Jolla, California. An avid traveler, she expanded CA's international coverage and developed the magazine's Fresh section. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin where she indulged her taste for Tex-Mex food, independent film and the blues. Her first job in journalism was as an assistant editor at Texas Monthly. Anne was a founding board member of the Illustration Conference and is a current board member of Watershed Media, an organization that produces action-oriented, visually dynamic communication projects to influence the transition to a green society. Anne is also a published photographer with credits ranging from Communication Arts, Émigré, Blur and Step Inside Design magazines, to the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Allworth Press and Chronicle Books, among others. She collects vintage cameras and fine art photography and can't wait to build an addition to her home so she has more wall space.
It all started with the cover of the Canyon Lake telephone book. Growing up in a hotbed of wakeboarding in California’s Inland Empire, Garth Milan had the opportunity to ride and shoot with some of the region’s best riders. About the time his first published photograph was plastered on the cover of the local yellow pages, Milan knew he’d been bitten by the photography bug so he enrolled in the photojournalism program at Cal State, Longbeach.
Milan honed his skills in the classroom and meanwhile scored a gig shooting and writing as an editor-at-large for Dirt Rider, a motocross specialty magazine. Though it was a bit of a transition from water to dirt, as a lifelong motocross rider Milan was stoked. He actually thought he’d landed the dream job until, upon graduation in 2000, Milan was offered a position at the newly formed TransWorld Motocross. He’s been there ever since, working as photo editor, associate editor, and senior photographer, shooting probably 70 percent of the photos published in the magazine.
Garth’s favorite photograph:
“My favorite was the cover of our 20th issue. It’s a black and white shot of Drake McElroy going around a corner out in these sand dunes and it was just one of those times when everything came together. It’s probably my favorite shot ever. It’s pretty funny too because Drake is this pro freestyle rider and the fact we used him on the cover going around a corner is really ironic. When it came out, he called me up and said, ‘My whole life I’ve never had a shot taken of me where I wasn’t up in the air doing a trick.’”
Are you seeing a new style or trend in photography or photographers?
“No, not too much. In the end, almost everything imaginable has already been done at one point or another.”
Growing up in Gilford, New Hampshire, snowboarding was always Joel Muzzey's first love. He strapped into a board for the first time 15 years ago and has been hooked ever since. Muzzey studied journalism at New Hampshire State College and eventually found a way to parlay that degree into a job in the snowboarding world, working as a writer first with Transworld Snowboarding and then Snowboarder. He looked poised to continue following the writing track until while on assignment on some far flung mountain, a light bulb went off in his head: "I was around a lot of photographers and I was like, I should be shooting too. I'm in all these sick spots and I'm out here doing international travel with the magazine …What am I doing not shooting?"
So Muzzey did just that. Though he never studied photography formally, he taught himself in the ins and outs of the camera and within about a year a vacancy opened for photo editor at Snowboarder. And he got the job. Muzzey still writes occasional features for the magazine as well as some freelance articles, but the majority of his time is spent behind the photo edit desk. Now 33, he's successfully done the writing thing and now photography, so what's next? Will he make a move for the publishing side? Nope. Not even close. "I'm going to basically disappear once I make enough money," he says. "I'll probably retire to the mountains in Austria. I'm going off the grid."
What makes a great photo?
Hassleblad, Arctic light, Fuji film.
How has snowboard imagery changed in the past five years?
Film to digital. Bigger jumps means shots are further from the action. Meanwhile shooters with riding skills are getting on the slope in Alaska, bringing that terrain closer to viewers' eyes.
Any advice for photographers seeking to get their images published?
Be ready to kiss a lot of ass.
Made to be broken: "As long as you are not established, you have to fight to get good [shooting] positions. It's sometimes worth it to ignore the rules to get a different shot."
As co-owner of a major Austrian sports-photo agency, Franz Pammer sifts through literally hundreds of photos a week, searching for images that will satisfy the demands of media outlets all over the world. Good thing his early experiences shooting his own film prepared him for that kind of intensity. "When I was 14 I got my first camera," Pammer explains. "A year later I traveled through Austria, [producing] more than 700 shots. But the results were really disappointing. As I was sure the cheap camera could be the only reason for that disaster, I bought my first professional equipment. From then on, photography became my big and only hobby." A few short years later, after a stint as a press photographer for regional and daily newspapers, Pammer met fellow photographer Ingrid Gerencser, who had just finished her schooling. The two put together not only their heads, but also their initials (GE+PA), to form a stock agency, GEPA Pressefoto, that today supplies more than 600 clients with compelling shots of athletes in their finest moments.
"Ice hockey, motor sports, and soccer are my favorites. I like action and features, but I hate set-ups," says Pammer of what excites him when he's behind the lens. "Sports photography is sports itself, as you not only have to be creative in seeing, but you also have to use your hunting instinct to catch the right moment."
On working from the ground up:
"[When] our main client, a daily paper, had to [fold], we could not live from photography anymore, but just survive," recalls Pammer of GEPA Pictures' early days. "Years of struggling day and night followed. We were able to sell our pictures to various media and to the APA (Austria Presseagentur, the National Press Agency), but the [costs] for equipment and traveling were still higher than the incoming [profits]; we always wanted to be better and more exclusive than our competitors, using the newest and best cameras, lenses, and transmission equipment. An offer from the Associated Press to cover the war in former Yugoslavia helped us both out of big problems." GEPA Pictures now has more than 750,000 photos in stock at any given time, and works with 11 partner agencies in Europe, China, and Japan.
Timing isn't everything: "It's never a matter of just being in the right place at the right time—it's also an understanding of what to look for when you're there.”
If a picture is indeed worth its proverbial thousand words, then David Schonaeur is the man who gives them their due. A longstanding staffer at American Photo magazine—he was hired as managing editor in 1990 and is now the editor-in-chief—Schonaeur has been penning articles on photography's highest echelon for some 16 years. And from the straightforward to the esoteric, the photography community never fails to provide him with the vast and ever-changing array of personalities he loves to illuminate. "I'm a writer, and I like to tell stories,” he says, simply. "Photographers tend to be really interesting people, and make really good interviews; whenever they have to go out and do [an assignment], they have to be in front of it—you can't do it from a distance. They have really great adventures.”
Adventure has been a keyword in Schonaeur's career; he was formerly the managing editor of Outside magazine, and his experiences there with photographers such as Gordon Wiltsie, Galen Rowell, James Balog, and Rick Ridgeway heightened his interest in covering the people behind the pictures. Since that time, he has counted preeminent figures such as LIFE magazine photographer Carl Mydans (who produced the famous shot of Gen. Douglas McArthur coming ashore in the Philippines during the 1945 Japanese invasion) as sources of continuing inspiration. (Mydans passed away in 2004.) "[Mydans] was one of the first people I interviewed at American Photographer [now American Photo],” Schonauer remembers. The two were discussing Mydans' experiences as a a photojournalist during WWII when, says Schonauer, "It struck me that I was listening to a first-person history of much of the 20th century. He had just an incredible life.”
If you don't know, ask:
Though Schonauer does not shoot photos himself, he possesses an eternal curiosity about the art and the science—and he isn't afraid to call on his colleagues for a bit of instruction. "I'm a terrible photographer,” he laughs. "When I have to write something technical about photography—F-stops, lenses, etc.—I'm pestering the guy next door about it.”
"I'll scrub toilets - I'll do whatever - just to get into the business."
Those were the magic words that enabled 25-year-old photographer Matt Ware to score a photography internship and squeeze his way into the magazine industry. In 1999, as a freshman at West Virginia University in Morgantown, Ware was disenchanted with his major in advertising so he turned his focus to the school's photo department and an internship with Racer X Illustrated, a top moto-cross racing magazine also based in Morgantown.
Having ridden and raced BMX for nearly a dozen years, Ware felt a natural affinity for Racer X and dove quickly into the mix. For six years, as he finished his photojournalism degree, Ware worked as an intern in the Racer X offices. Then, in May 2005, he graduated and got the call to come onboard as a fulltime staff photographer.
These days, he handles all of the magazine's photo edit duties and touches every single photo submission that comes in the door. On the weekends, Ware shoots moto-cross races and says he thrives on the balance of working both in the field and behind the photo desk: "I think that helps your shooting because you're seeing so much other stuff that's coming in. It forces you to think of something different and gives you a different perspective."
What are the ingredients of a great photo?
"Of course, a photo needs to be technically good. From there I feel a photo needs to be able to express something. I like to try and think about the photo five or ten, even fifteen, years from now - Is it going to have the same impact through time?"
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
"Always edit your photos. Send them (photo editors) only those photos that are the best quality. Quality speaks volumes over quantity. Also be creative. It's always refreshing to see a photo from a different perspective."
Grant is the Group Brand Imaging Editor for one of the UK’s most respected and authoritative specialist magazines - Professional Photographer and Photographer Monthly.
He is an award-winning portrait photographer and has credits at the top end of the style industry. He entered photography through art directing at Elle and Tatler magazines and his portrait and interiors photography has appeared in magazines such as House & Garden, Elle Decoration, Instyle and The Guardian Weekend. His photographs have been exhibited extensively and he has also worked as a consultant art director at Redwood Publishing and Express newspapers.
Apart from art directing and editing books on photography and contemporary culture, his writing on design and photography has been published online and in book form. A monograph of his work “at home with the makers of style” - which captured twenty five of the world’s leading designers and their homes - was published by Thames & Hudson in 2006. Career-highlights include working with William Klein, Richard Avedon and David Bailey.
In his own words, his love of photography comes from "its ability to create immediate non-verbal communication of a moment in time." As for a description of life in the industry, Grant says, “I look at pictures, talk, look at pictures, write, look at pictures, take pictures."
Asked why he wanted to get involved with Red Bull Illume, Grant cited "its commitment to photography on an international platform."
“Don't be a dick. Learn how to edit your photographs and shoot with interesting skateboarders.” That, quite frankly, is the secret of getting yourself noticed according to Dylan Doubt, photo editor of Color magazine.
Dylan’s interest in photography started, bizarrely, with a foot fetish: “I was photographing my own feet as a child, then skateboarding since I was 12 so documenting it came naturally.” From touring around and photographing skateboarding, motorcycling and bikes, Dylan started to think of photography as a career after some misfortune. “After having my camera bag stolen, I was forced to replace it all with better gear”.
After going high-spec, Dylan worked at SBC skateboard magazine from 2000 to 2006 before moving on to Color magazine. Highlights for him include interviewing Rick McCrank, photographing Deer Man of Dark Woods and making a video feature for antisocial as well as photo tours in Europe and New Zealand.
Remembering a time when a “decent film camera and a high speed black and white film was a decent start,” Dylan describes the current photography scene as a “technological rat race” even though it is “easier to get started.” He is therefore nostalgic for times past and always carries film as back-up. “I miss the feeling of sitting in the lab waiting to get film back. It can make or break the whole day.”
As for life as a photo editor, Dylan distinguishes being at home in Vancouver and out on the road:
At home: “I get up, put the kettle on, check e-mail, ride a bike to the office, more e-mail, look at photos, meet with editors, mock up features, ride bike up hill, pick up my child from school. On the good days, I'll get myself out in the streets with some good friends, go skateboarding and shoot photos.”
On tour: “When I am on the road, the situation is a little different. I wake up, go find a delicious coffee, check e-mail, try to get everyone moving, go skateboarding, drive, more skateboarding, have a quick snack, do more driving, get kicked out of a couple spots, do a bit more skating. Hopefully by the end of it all, I’ll get a delicious meal and a few good images.”
Asked about his impression of a great photo, Dylan describes it as “an image that either makes you want to get up and DO something or one that haunts you for days, weeks, months, years.” As for what he loves about photography, it is “being able to create an image that will be around long after I’m dirt.” Linked to this desire to create lasting images, he was happy to get involved with Red Bull Illume as it offers a world-wide platform for action and adventure photographers to get noticed: “It’s always nice to get this kind of work showcased.”
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, operating in at least 200 cities in 94 countries with 2,700 journalists, supplying news text in about 20 languages. Andy Clark has been a photographer for 35 years and has devoted 23 of them to Thomson Reuters’ policy of fast and objective news.
Working alone in a one-man photo bureau with a small reporter team, Andy works through the continual flux of daily events at home or on the road. However, photojournalism was a career he grew into after starting in Canadian Press (CP), a news agency, in 1970. “I became seriously interested in photography as a 17-year-old 'copyboy' working for a news agency in their photo department. I had been slightly interested prior to that but had no career aspirations. Once I saw the magic of taking photos, processing film and making prints, I was hooked."
He was promoted to the darkroom in 1972 and was officially promoted to be a full-time photographer at CP in 1975 when he joined the Ottawa office – which he describes as his proudest moment to date. After "several hard years working my way up" and earning his spurs, he moved on to Hamilton Spectator, UPI and then Reuters in 1985. Interestingly, he was also the official photographer for Brian Mulroney, Canada's prime minister (1983-1993), for two and a half years before he re-joined Reuters in 1987. He worked at the European Picture Desk in Brussels and London for several years before returning to Toronto to be Reuter's chief photographer in Canada.
Considering that news-agency photographers have to strongly consider how text and image combine, his perspective on what makes a great photo leans towards photography’s power to capture moments and events through an objective eye. What, for him, makes a great photo? "That's not easy to answer. My favorite photos are those with layers to them - foreground, middle ground and background. That tells me the photographer was not only looking through the viewfinder, at his subject, but seeing too."
Andy also sees his passion for photography as no different to any other photographers, regardless of what field he works in. "In simple terms, I love taking pictures, nothing more nothing less." However, this "red blooded Canadian" also has a passion for photographing ice hockey and, surprisingly for a Canadian, cricket.
Asked about the digital or film debate, Andy agrees that digital has transformed the industry over the last decade: "It has changed everything. I spent most of my career, so far, shooting film. I went full digital in 1997 and the only similarity to the film days is looking through viewfinder and pushing the button."
As for Red Bull Illume, Andy is excited about the prospect of judging: "Not only do I love to shoot pictures but I love to look at pictures and expect I am going to to see some very nice photography."
The notion of a free press is a concept still much treasured by Kuba Atys. "When I graduated, I wondered what to do in my life. I had a good camera and I wanted to publish my photos but of course not in the communist press."
After communism collapsed in the Eastern Bloc in 1989, the daily newspaper Gazetta Wybocza was the first independent Polish newspaper to establish itself which gave Kuba his opportunity. "I have been a staff photographer there since 1991. For all these years I have been doing all kind of photos for Gazeta, its magazines and supplements. I quickly found what is most interesting for me - making sport photos."
Kuba's first big shoot was covering the boxing fight between the Polish heavyweight Andrzej Golota and Riddick Bowe in 1996. "It was my first business trip to USA and hard work. I had problems developing films after midnight and sending them back by the hotel telephone as there was no internet then."
Another huge highlight for him was covering his first Olympic Games at Sydney in 2000. However, he emphasizes how much graft and dedication is required in the profession, especially if you are working alone. "I had a digital camera by then but the quality of pictures was not very good. Most of my work was shot on film instead. Every day I had nearly twenty films! Every night I selected the good shots, scanned them and sent them back to Poland. This used to take all night and then I had to work again the next morning."
Considering that it is much easier to work with digital as a press photographer, one would think that Kuba does not miss shooting with film. However, digital photography has, in his view, brought new problems. "Photography isn't an exclusive skill anymore. Anyone can take photos - you don't need to be really good at it. Now the most important criteria is the price of a picture, which has caused a flood of bad photos. There is also the serious ethical problem in how easy it is to change photos using Photoshop."
Kuba also believes that young photographers have to earn the right to call themselves a professional photographer. "Many young photographers usually overestimate the value of their work. They think that if they are selling photos, everything is OK, but it doesn't mean their photos are any good."
What makes a great photo? "Photography has the possibility to show the world in a way we are usually not able to see it. A photo interacts with viewers as information and also aesthetically - mood, motive and so on. What I love about photography is those possibilities it gives me as an author. If I can observe these two aspects when watching pictures made by others, I know I have a really good photo in front of me."
Kuba's interest in Red Bull Illume comes from his interest in shooting nature-shots as well as skiing, sailing and windsurfing. For him, the contest "educates young people about how to make good pictures of extreme sports and whatever other activities are happening today."
“Seeing one of my photos ripped from a mag and put up on someone's wall like I used to when I was younger was pretty rad.” Jon Scarth, photo editor of Snowboard Canada magazine, still gets a kick out of making a living out of photography. “It was amazing to even be interviewed for the position and when I got it I couldn’t believe it.”
His entry into the photo-world started young as his father worked for Kodak. “There were always cameras and film all over the house. When I showed some serious interest in high school, he gave me his old Pentax and from there I was hooked.”
For John, the role of a photo-editor is different to what he initially expected when he started. “The advent of the digital camera has brought a lot more technology into the profession. You are not only a photographer now, you’ve got to be equally proficient on the computer as well. The instant feedback of digital cameras has also made the learning curve much faster which is only a good thing. Sometimes I do wish I didn’t have to spend so much time on the computer after a shoot but the ability to email a client or rider work from the day's events is the trade off I guess.”
Snowboard magazine staff typically travel with professional riders throughout the winter season and cover travel, contests, lifestyle, riders as well as company profiles and product reviews. A normal day at SBC revolves around its base in one of the world’s best snow-sport locations – Whistler. “There are 2 types of the typical day at work. There is the office side where I’ll check and respond to emails for a few hours in the morning and then Skype with the other editors since I work from home. Then it’s back to the emails or going to shoot some portraits or gear for the mag. If it’s in the winter then I’ll be out shooting anywhere the snow is. For the majority of the time, it’s snowmobiling around the Whistler area and if I’m lucky I’ll be traveling. I love my job in both seasons because they are each so different.”
What type of photography does he enjoy shooting most? “My main subject has always been snowboarding and it will continue to be that way for a long time. I am getting into wildlife photography more and more these days though. It takes a lot of patience to get a good shot and there are rarely any second chances so you have to be on it which benefits the snow side of my photos as well.”
For this year’s Red Bull Illume, he is looking for great photos that “tell a story without needing a caption.” John also appreciates how the contest brings a unique focus to freesports photography. “It’s great to bring together so many different photographers and showcase their work together. When you are a working pro in one sport it’s easy to get tunnel vision because you are so entrenched in your own genre. This event opens your eyes to what many like-minded creative people are doing documenting different sports. And for the viewers of this event it’s probably the best assembly of action sports images they will ever see.”
Currently director of photography in Sportweek magazine and Gazzetta della Sport, Giovanna Calvenzi is a prominent name in European photography.
After studying literature at the University of Milan, Giovanna begun her photography career by assisting the well-known Italian photo-journalist Federico Patellani before becoming a photography lecturer at the University of Milan.
After contributing to various periodicals (Capital, Amica, Domus, Interni, Photo Italia, Linea Grafica), her career crossed-over into media when she became the picture editor at AMICA, a weekly fashion magazine, in 1985 which led to her also working for renowned Italian publications such as Corriere della Sera, Vanity Fair, MODA and la Stampa.
She is also a member of the Droit de Regard, an association for the protection and promotion of authorship in press photography and has a distinguished career as a curator and academic. After being director of the Arles Photography Festival in 1998, she was a committee member of the National d’Art Contemporain between 1999 and 2002 and was also a guest curator at the Photo España festival in Madrid. She has also published her academic work prolifically since 1984 and co-edited "Italia: Portrait of a Nation" which presents a passionate and comprehensive visual tale of Italy after 1945. Giovanna was also a judge at the World Press Photo Awards for ten consecutive years between 1995 and 2005.
What does she love about photography? "I love its history and the latest tendencies. I love its capability to tell us stories, to show us faces, to interpret the world and reality and to transform them into art. As for what makes a great photo? There are no rules."
Despite such a distinguished career in photography, her daily routine is typical of a picture editor. "I switch on the computer, the phone rings, my editor in chief asks for something. I make appointments with new and old photographers. Then I am at the computer again and have many emails to write and to answer. I have to find time then to chat with the art director. Over the day, I see a lot of photographs - for “a lot” I mean really a lot! I normally finish at 8pm."
Giovanna is hopeful that the standard of photography for Red Bull Illume 2010 will match the "great quality of the photographs of the 2007 contest."
Michael Sargent’s thirty-five year career started as a photojournalist, working in the newspaper and wire service industries and moved through various roles from official White House photographer to management positions for AFP and Getty Images.
He now runs his own photo-media consultancy, through which he is working as the picture editor at The Straits Times in Singapore. From getting his first roll of camera film at the age of seven for Christmas, photography has been a "tireless passion that never stopped growing."
With such an interesting career under his belt so far, what are the highlights? "I’ve had many, I've really been blessed in my career. The high points would be in the years spent as both a newspaper and wire service photographer, as well as those as an editor and regional director with the wires. I worked as a White House photographer for George H. W. Bush (1989 – 1993) and eventually in a role at Getty Images where I had the privilege of hiring some of the best photographers and editors in the industry and having the resources to focus them on doing award winning work."
Regardless of his progression into photo and business consultancy, Michael has always kept in touch with his roots as a photographer. He won a string of awards in the 1980s and enjoyed his time as a news-photographer in North Carolina, Florida as well as the US army at the start of his career. "Photojournalism is my forte, though I do enjoy exploring landscape and travel photography. I've also done my share of sports photography over the years, a lot of basketball, American football, golf and NASCAR racing among other disciplines."
As someone who has been devoted to photography for over 50 years, its interesting to hear what photography was like before the digital age. "Back in my prime, digital cameras weren't even a dream, there were no auto-focus lenses and zoom lenses were rare and considered novelty items. The Internet didn't even exist."
"Photographers don't think the way they used to, picking the right prime lens for the picture, setting exposure from experience with meter-less cameras, thinking about focus and depth of field. Waiting for just the right moments, knowing you only had 36 frames or less to work with before having to reload."
"Then there was working in the darkroom, mixing the chemistry, making the prints, there is really none of this left today. All of this said, there are still some talented photographers out there making very nice pictures."
Does Michael think that action and adventure sports photographers have a different style and personality to most sports photographers? "I think in subtle respects they do, action and adventure sports are less predictable and routine and for this reason, I think they are a bit more challenging to photographers. Most sports have an air of predictability and repetition, which reduces some of the odds of not getting some good pictures. With action and adventure sports, it's more of 'anything goes.'"
As a judge at Red Bull Illume, he’s looking for photography that "captures that decisive moment" and photographers who have mastered their eye and familiarity for their sport without losing their sense of daring. "I've always had a competitive spirit and I think Red Bull Illume will inspire photographers, in the sporting spirit of competition, to deliver their best work."
“You can never take the ocean for granted nor take anyone who can’t look after themselves.” That is the lesson that Steve Dickinson learnt from surf-photography after a harrowing experience in Fiji in 2006 after an event at Cloudbreak.
“We were shooting way out in the channel - completely safe. Huge eight to ten feet waves were rolling in. Then over the loud speaker, someone started yelling from the commentary tower ‘there is a huge wave coming.’ We reacted fast and just managed to get over the massive ten foot plus rogue wave. I was haunted for weeks by the idea of what could have happened."
For the life of a surf-photographer, doing things differently or putting yourself at your limits is just part of the game. “As a teenager when my mates were trying to take photos of each other surfing from the beach – this was way before water proof instamatics - I waded out to my armpits and shot with a plastic bag! This involved a lot of jumping [from the waves]. The images were far from great but it set in stone an attitude of, if you want a great shot, you need to look at different options and sometimes take a risk.”
After starting out as a freelance surf-writer, the move into photography started when “imagery became more consuming than words.” Since starting Ocean Action Magazine in the mid 80’s, Steve has been the director and senior photographer for Pacific Media for over ten years – which includes Adventure Magazine, Curl Magazine and Ski and Snow Magazine.
Is being a director any different to his early days with just a camera and pen in hand? “There is no such thing as a typical day – some days are spent in the office running the business, but I could just as easily be on a mountain-side shooting snow or getting burnt to a crisp shooting surf. I guess what maintains the joy is the variety, working with a great product and great people. I am also lucky enough to work every day with my wife who is both my business partner and my best friend. So the job is all consuming – it is a lifestyle not a job.”
For anyone new to action and adventure sports photography, it is easy to underestimate how much blood and sweat goes into getting the image. For people with an experienced eye, the photographer’s dedication in getting the image comes straight across. “No one knows how hard some photographers work to get that one ‘special’ shot. It may be a lifetime of technical know-how or a five day climb up an ice face. But that effort is always reflected in the image – even if the only person who can see it is the photographer himself.” However, Steve notes that it is the end result that is all-important. “Passion for the image is completely internal, it is less about the process of photography and more about the final image.”
What criteria does he use when choosing photos for his publications? “When we evaluate images for our publications, we look with different eyes for different environments. If its mercenary, does is clearly show the logo? If its educational, does it show the full mountain range? If we’re looking for accuracy, is that guy wearing a lifejacket for example? But if we’re looking for impact, there’s the F.T.C rule – that is when you turn the page and the comment should be “F*#K that’s cool!”
As for becoming an accomplished surf photographer, he acknowledges that it isn’t easy. “There are so many variables, so much visual narrative in each image and it’s so technically challenging.” What advice would he give to any aspiring photographer hoping to take great pictures? “Ansel Adams said ‘There are always two people in every picture, the photographer and the viewer.’ I believe those two individuals are both taken into consideration then you have a recipe for success, the trick is understanding the needs of both.”
For Steve, the photography industry has changed positively in the last decade. “Photography was once an ‘ivory tower’ where no one knew what went on - there was mystery and intrigue. But the birth of digital has thrown the door wide open. No longer are darkrooms the bastion of the elite. Anyone can shoot, anyone can master, and anyone can learn the basics. Access and the availability of images has put massive pressure on established photographers to grow with the new industry and this pressure has simply evolved into better results.”
Steve is buzzing about Red Bull 2010 and hopes the competition will live up to the dizzy-heights of the first competition. “I was amazed at the quality and vision of the competition. I am prepared to be blown away by the next batch of entries because now everyone knows the value of being involved and the value of winning. I am honored to be involved.”
Once upon a time, or just in a moment of need, pizza - for some people - was worth more than a camera. "I was going to college and working. I was delivering pizzas and babysitting all the local kids around my town in San Clemente. One day, a local news photographer said he would trade me an old camera if I delivered him a couple of pizzas. The camera sat in the back of my car for two months untouched before I picked it up. Once I ran a roll of film through it, I was hooked. It was the perfect escape for me. I just kinda fell into photography by accident I guess."
Peter Taras rise to director of photography at Surfing Magazine is no accident of good fortune however. Much respected in his field, or on the beach rather, he’s just happy to be doing something he’s passionate about."
Just getting to where I am in my life is a great feeling. I don’t really have any career accomplishments other than being where I am right now which I feel very fortunate about." For Peter, it’s all about keeping standards high. "As long as the magazine I work for is putting out the best material it can, I feel accomplished. I live through the execution of my photographers and their imagery. As long as that continues, and remains at a high level, then things are good."
Before joining Surfing Magazine two years ago, he was the photo editor for Transworld Surf for seven years – and he also reached the finals of the Telus festival. A typical day in California includes "blackberry emails on the way to work, phone-calls till about noon, cold tecates in the afternoon and picking photos until late at night."
Considering that he is wary of his magazines publishing generic photos of surfing, even if generic could still make good copy in most magazines, what makes a great shot then? "You know, I don’t know anymore. Everyone is shooting such amazing photos these days, it’s hard to figure out what is great from brilliant. I mean yeah, of course, composition, light, feeling, mood and dynamic are all signs of a great photo."
"Photographs shot on film also have a unique personality to it, so I like seeing film shots these days. A darkroom, processing pictures, a huge 20 inch black and white print, burning and dodging with my favorite music blaring from the speakers and a signature from one of my close friends on the bottom makes a great photo for me. A brilliant photo is something very personal, like a gift. As long as its personal and heart-felt, that's where the brilliance lies."
This is not to say that Pete is a nepotistic photo-editor, godfather-like with his own surf-mafia clique. He just respects stunning shots from photographers he’s been fortunate to work with over the years.
Indeed, he’s well aware that there’s a new generation of surfers already shaking things up who are challenging photographers in new ways. "I like a lot of the up and coming kids like Kolohe Andino, Andrew Dohney and the whole under-21 crew. I’m pysched about all the young guys right now. People are still pushing the limits of photography in a way we’ve never seen before." As for his own photographic style, he’s leaning towards portraiture as a way to express his subjects.
Red Bull Illume 2010 will show just how creative the action and adventure sports photography scene is right now. For Peter, it’s all about how the variety the competition offers. "I love seeing all the other sports and the photographer’s approach to their craft."
Born and raised in the Styrian countryside, sports and nature has always been important for Eva Gamperl-Wolf, photo-editor of Sport Magazin. "After school, I started to study sports with the goal of becoming a teacher. It was then that I had my first experience of photography. My mother was talented. She's not a professional photographer, but she knows what makes a good image which was really helpful in getting me started."
Eva started working as a picture-editor for Sport Magazin, one of Austria's major sport publications, in 1997. "I've said this before, but it was my destiny to work there. That job was just waiting for me," she says with a cheshire-cat smile. "I had to learn a lot, and it wasn't always easy - all the long discussions with chief-editors and art-directors and so on. But, you have to remind yourself, searching for the best images from around the world is so satisfying. It's a job I enjoy very much."
What does she find so satisfying about being a photo-editor rather than a photographer? "It is interesting to see how on event can be photographed and presented so differently. Sport Magazin offers a wide range of photographs - from hardcore action shots to high quality studio productions with David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton for example. This allows me to show and develop my abilities in art and action photography. So the variety in my job just makes my day really exciting. I really enjoy my job and like to learn different things from day to day."
Considering that Eva thinks that her selection of photographs "should help to illuminate the day of my readers and make the world a better place," her standards are sure to be sky-high when she judges the world's best action and adventure photography for Red Bull Illume.
"Moving to Spain from Sweden in 1991 opened my possibilities to work and develop myself in outdoor and action-photography" says Mikael Helsing, photo editor of Oxigeno and Outdoor magazines. With fifteen years experience of shooting mountain-biking, running, skiing, trekking as well as motorcycles and cars, Mikael lives and breathes action and adventure sports photography. Since he wandered out of his homeland, he has had his images published all over Europe as well as Japan, Australia and the USA.
What excites him about Red Bull Illume? "It's interesting to see so many images and the different ways to transmit the sensation of those special moments that all photographers look for - but doesn’t always find. I think that Red Bull Illume is a reference-point today in the world of action-photography."
As a judge, Mikael will be distinguishing good, but generic photos, from the truly unique. And it is the way that action-sports photographers still find ways to express themselves that he appreciates. "What I love about photography is great possibilities it offers in doing the same thing in different ways. If you look at the result of different photographers all over the world, even if we work on similar things, you can see the huge differences in interpreting them. The creativity never ends. You will always find a photographer with a type of interpretation which is different to yours - which also means that you can always learn a lot and open you mind."
Does he find it hard to be creative after so many years in the business? "I have been working in ski-photographing since 1985 but I still get many new ideas before every winter starts. But I still feel kind of nervous before each season!"
After "many winters" in the industry, what has changed most? "The photographic industry has changed a lot. Today many more people can make their own photos and experiment with cameras, lenses, flashes and photoshop to get a more personal result. Before, at the era of analogue cameras, we were a small group of professionals who did experimental photos. Today, it’s amazing to see so many websites with young photographers with their own image-style."
What for him makes a photo really special? "A great photo is one which you can look at year after year and still get a good feeling. It doesn’t have to use the latest technologies, or the best lighting - even though if I love good lighting!" Just as the Red Bull Illume nominees of 2007 are still looking fresh today, the class of 2010 will hope that their shots also stand the test of time.
Jaime Owen started off as an intern in Skateboarder Magazine in 2000. Fast forward and he is now the editor and has no regrets: "Life's been pretty good to me the past couple of years. You'll never know what's possible until you try. It seemed natural to combine my love of skateboarding and photography."
The editor still likes to use his old Nikon FM2 film camera even while loaded down with all of the current digital cameras of the day: "Just working for Skateboarder and having published shots in it is my career highlight to date. I never thought I would be a professional photographer," says Owen.
Jaime majored in Studio Art in Florence, the town in South Carolina that is, before moving inter-state to Columbia. He got a job there at Manifest Discs and Tapes. However, the big dream was the move to California with its "billion skate spots compared to the 3 or 4 spots back in South Carolina."
According to Owen, a great shot is about ‘capturing the perfect moment’. As for new developments in skateboard photography, Jaime definitely sees an upward curve in standards: "I would say that the quality has gotten better. Photos are sharper and pop more. Plus, there are a lot more photographers out there now."
For Owen, the personalities and companies involved are secondary to the actual shot: "If you have a great photo and a great trick, it doesn't matter who it is. But I think each magazine has its favorite boarders and some guys get in more than others," he says.
Jaime’s main reason for getting involved with Red Bull Illume is the ‘gathering of great photographers’. However, the intriguing thing about the contest is that jurors will not know the names of the great photographers until the official unveiling in May as the judging phase is completely anonymous. Will your photos pop enough to catch his eye?
In 1989, Sergio began his career as a staff photographer at Caretas magazine before being appointed to photo editor at Peru’s most respected newspaper, El Comercio, in 1995. Photo-journalism has gripped him ever since.
He has traveled extensively in the Peruvian Andes, its coastal wilderness and also into the Amazon jungle. As his wanderlust crossed over with various political, social and environmental assignments, he discovered his main photographic themes: identity, modernity and nationhood.
How did he get involved in photography? "It all started when I was 15 years old, during a trip to Tarapoto city in the Peruvian Jungle. I used a Kowa camera with a 50mm fixed lens, given as a gift to me by my father. It was during this adventurous trip that I first experienced photography, landscapes and the natives that live in these places."
After studying architecture, he left his career for photography and joined Caretas magazine in 1989 after taking a photography course at Kodak Peru. In 1992 he was awarded in Spain the "Premio Rey de España" for his work in journalistic photography. When he came back to Peru he developed his personal work and collaborated with Somos and Cosas magazines.
In 1993 he started working for Diario El Comercio as a photographer and became its graphic editor two years later. In 1995 he started teaching journalistic photography at the Instituto Gaudí and then at the Universidad de Lima between 1997 and 2001. Sergio held his first individual exhibition, “Mundo Real,” in 1998 with Lima city as its subject and has had his work frequently exhibited ever since in South America. For Sergio, "the road has been a constant learning curve and merging of technological, photographic and administrative skills."
What is a typical day like for him? "My day starts with a coffee, usually this stirs up new ideas! Also I keep informed with global news. Then I coordinate by phone with photographic staff in order to recap on progress of coverage and assign future tasks. Whether in Peru or abroad, I head out to the field to shoot photos. I also normally have to supervise the photographers, talk to the printers and meet with the editors to discuss chronograms and get feedback. At the end of the day, it's all about getting photos ready for the magazine or editorial project."
A career-defining moment was when Sergio formed his own photo-consultancy in 2003 which organizes photography assignments, exhibitions and books. His clients include El Comercio newspaper, Día 1 magazine, Poder Magazine, Toronja comunicaciones, Odebrecht company, ADN communications, EFE Agency and Etiqueta Negra magazine.
What does he love about photography? "It's the possibility of being in diverse places and situations, meeting all kinds of people and transmitting these experiences to the public through a photo."
How has the photography industry changed over the last decade in his opinion? "Firstly, it's speed. The capture and transmission of photos has decreased rapidly here as everywhere else in the world. Secondly, digital media means that you can manipulate saturation and color in photos, correct exposition and create sequences. Lastly, a massive change is being able to reflect on content selection on site rather than in the studio."
After being a judge at the first Red Bull Illume in 2007, why is he getting involved again? "Red Bull Illume gives photographers and photo editors the chance to connect from different parts of the world. Action and adventure sports photographers are unconventional. They prefer to capture nature, people and action, which is the type of photography I like to see."
Beatriz Santos Pruneda, editor of México Desconocido for five years now, has been moving from place to place, recording life with her lens like a reporter since 1987. “I keep on traveling, taking photos, writing. And currently, with new radio-podcasts, I can reach a much wider audience. I invite people to read, to know, to live new experiences - and I get great satisfaction out of what I do with the magazine.”
What does she love about photography? “I love it when a picture really just makes you want to be in a different place – and then when you really go to that place, or it makes you do something special. Even a photo’s power to make you dream is incredible.” Considering that her favorite type of photography is lifestyle, the subject is just as important as the form. “A great photo for me requires a good balance between the emotion it conveys and the technique it shows.”
Where does she see the balance between recording an image faithfully and enhancing it to make it as expressive as possible? “Photographic manipulation has radically changed the final product. Nowadays photographers must be updated with the different applications involved in their entire work. Now the end-result must be perfect because there are multiple tools to help you do it, while always keeping the image real.”
Beatriz also sees definite development in action and sports photography. “I think the viewer’s perspective is involved much more – they can feel that they are inside the picture. Photos these days have more fantasy involved, they have a different management of light and they use angles that expand to involve the viewer far more. Our extreme photographers for example experiment much more with their pictures - even with those not tied to any particular adventure sport. The photographers are much more purposeful, they don’t settle for less and always go further.”
Beatriz is proud to represent Mexico in Red Bull Illume’s international jury. “Red Bull Illume’s photographs from 2007 always surprised me! I’m looking forward to participating in a contest that shows the fearlessness, technique and self-improvement involved in action and adventure sports photography. It’s like admiring the whole world through one single window, watching how the adventure photographer lives, dreams and achieves his great results. The contest’s images are like living through the eyes of a photographer.”
As well as being a massive fan of extreme sports, Leon Arhire is something of a pioneer. He started his own monthly photo magazine over five years ago, the first publication of its kind in Romania. “For me, working in the media – with creative people in particular – is a career highlight in itself.”
For Leon, editing a magazine is as much a networking exercise as anything else. “I start talking with my colleagues about planning the magazine, then I have to contact different artists or companies in order to put the magazine together.” However methodical and mechanical this sounds, he’s proud of the “mystery, understanding, passion” that is shown in the some of the magazine’s best photographs. For Leon, it’s this that makes the personal risk of running a magazine and all the late nights worthwhile.
Is the market in Romania different to anywhere else? “It's evolved dramatically but the principle of photography remains the same there just as anywhere else. It’s just that now almost anyone can afford the best cameras on the market.”
What drives him to dedicate his professional and personal life to photography? “Everything about photography just interests me - from the technical set-up, to the capturing of an image, to the final product. I just love to see a well-shot and beautiful photo hanged up on the wall or published in a magazine.”
Starting our as a amateur photographer, Eric Colmet Daâge joined Salut les Copains in 1965 as a page layout assistant under the guidance of the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1967, he assisted Filipacchi Group Artistic Director Régis Pagniez’s for the launch of Photo and has been working for years with Roger Thérond.
Over the years he also been Artistic Director for Show Business, Film Français, Cinéma de France, Pop Music and Son magazines. He also forged a career as an editor of photographic books, including "Marilyn mon amour" as well as collections from Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Serge Gainsbourg, Marco Glaviano and Jean-François Jonvelle.
In 1975, he was named Artistic Director of Photo and, in 1978, created the "La défonce du consommateur" column in Lui which he wrote for 15 years. In 1984, he created New Look magazine with Eric Neveu before becoming Editor-in-Chief of Photo in 1990.
Well past its landmark 400th edition in 2003, Photo is in an institution in itself. "In 1967, four men who were crazy about photography - Daniel Filipacchi, Roger Thérond, Walter Carone, and Régis Pagnies who I assisted - invented on a table corner what was to become the world's most popular photography magazine. Today, it can be found in 70 countries across the planet."
With over a million readers, what has been the key behind the magazine's success? "Photo is a magazine for every picture, including those you wouldn't see elesewhere. Its secret is the friendly ties and loyalty that bind them to some of the industry's biggest names."
Gustavo Cherro realized the paradox early on that a photograph is not a 1:1 copy of what the eye sees, but an impression that requires the craft of a good photographer.
“During my teenage years, I devoted myself to mountain climbing and living in contact with nature. When I returned from those trips and saw my photos, I realized they did not do justice to my personal experience. So I started to buy magazines, read books, enhance my equipment until one day I took it seriously and started to study. Immediately after, I got a job as a photo studio assistant and, little by little, I managed to buy my professional equipment."
What are his career defining moments? “I think the first time I saw my name printed under a picture – that was unforgettable. It was a small, ugly picture on the corner of a not very important newspaper, but I will never forget it. After that, I covered the World Cup in France in 1998. That was a turning point. I realized I could work on a par with other photographers.” Being selected by Susan Meiselas for a workshop in 2005 also bolstered his confidence that he was one of South America’s best photographers.
A photo-editor for Argentina’s La Nación newspaper for the last five years, he only gets to the newspaper office at 4pm before “a joint analysis of the newspaper content with the journalists and layout-artists, I start the image selection process. When there’s a big story and there’s several photographers involved, I have to decide upon the best locations to take the images and decide on the deadlines. Of course, in the end, my role is to have the ‘best picture’ for the topic on-time.”
What does Gustavo love about photography? “It’s being able to freeze a moment in a person’s life and make it last forever and unforgettable – that is very powerful. It takes such great responsibility and judgment, but that makes our profession special and unique.”
Does he find it difficult to describe a fantastic photo? “Technically speaking, it’s easy to explain: good composition, good exposure, focus, a good light, but I think that a picture goes beyond these technicalities and often an ‘imperfect’ image may be excellent. A good picture is a unique image in terms of content, for what we feel when we see it, and when there is no need for a caption to grasp it. That is a miraculous moment we seek throughout our careers, it is something we can see when we are staring at it.”
Sports photography is usually not classed in the same company as fine art photography, but fur Gustavo, it has a dynamic that other types of photography can not quite match. “Any sport where the athlete is running and at sort of risk is interesting to me - showing that interaction between the sport and the athlete is something I like a lot. Intellectually speaking, subjects related to human and social problems are very interesting, but nature and activities in contact with nature have always been of most interest to me.”
What does he think of the photography profession now? “This generation of photographers has suffered the worst changes in the history of our profession. We started with mechanic cameras and black and white films. Then, changes started to happen, we had to learn to think in colors, to copy in color, to scan, to transmit, to send mails, to use ftp and so on. In many respects, it was like starting from scratch, the delay in shooting of the first cameras, the change of 35 mm format, the new color ranges, the low quality of the first CCDs, until little by little we arrived at our present time. Today, it is a great help to have all the technology breakthroughs available to us.”
For Gustavo, technology has given photographers new tools, but hasn’t changed the heart of the profession. “The technological breakthroughs have taken photography above and beyond what we imaged ten years ago. But I think that the core and unchangeable part of this profession remains the same. Fortunately the photographer’s unique point of view and the challenge to capture the right moment remain still unchanged.”
As for the challenge of selecting the world’s best action and adventure sports photographs for Red Bull Illume, Gustavo sees it as a “great honor to have access to this standard of images.” But, with privilege also comes responsibility. For him, the jury process will be “hard and a great challenge in my editorial career.”
Since 1985 Jan Šibík has traveled over 200 times to every corner of the world. He has documented the collapse of communism, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, and the bloody end of the Ceausescu regime in Romania. He has witnessed massacres in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as famine in Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. He also experienced the aftermath of earthquakes in Armenia and Turkey, as well as the exodus of Iraqi Kurds to Iran.
Šibík has also photographed wars in Afghanistan, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Abkhazia (Georgia), Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan), South Africa and Iraq. He also documented the genocide in Rwanda, as well as refugee camps in Tanzania, Sudan, Angola, Somalia and Haiti. His work has also brought him to Cuba on numerous occasions.
More recently Šibík has devoted time to covering the conflict in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. During all of 2004 he documented the AIDS epidemic in Ukraine. In 2005 he recorded the horrific consequences of the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the tragic and bizarre situation in communist North Korea, the funerals of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican and Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the forced departure of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip, and the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
In 2004 Jan Šibík’s photos of Indian kushti wrestlers took third place in the sports action category of the World Press Photo competition. In the Czech Press Photo competition, designated for Czech and Slovak photographers, he has won a total of forty awards in numerous categories, including the main prize for photo of the year. Šibík has also won three awards in the Fuji Press Photographer competition, including the top prize in 1997. He is also a recipient of the June 1st Prize granted by the City of Pilsen for outstanding support of democracy and human rights.
In 2000 Šibík organized a humanitarian campaign entitled “Podejte ruce dětem ze Siery Leone” (“Give the Children of Sierra Leone a Hand”), which managed to raise 1.1 mln Czech crowns for child victims of war and civil conflict. In 2005 he established a similar charity called “Chci ještě žít!” (“I Want to Live!”) in support of AIDS victims in Odessa, Ukraine. The campaign raised 900,000 crowns.
Raymond Bobar has been the art director at the Romanian edition of Esquire and Men's Health for the last seven years after starting off at Republik, the film and music magazine.
What is it like to launch a magazine franchise of such a well-known publication? "When we launched Esquire magazine in Romania we had no photo editor and a very limited budget. I was assigning everything and laid out everything, about 12 to 14 hours a day. I had about two years of such work keeping the magazine at the top of the market, visually speaking. In my experience the passion for your work is the most important thing."
What is a typical task for an art director? "For example, for features with a lot of abstract ideas and text which doesn't have an image to go with it, such as a piece of fiction or personal essays, it is my job to create illustrations – so I mostly choose photography and do the best I can with a camera, scanner and Photoshop."
What does he love about photography? "Personally, it’s the story behind the image and how the context involves the viewer to create a more complex experience. If the photographer is able to make the viewer feel this, he’s at the top of his game.“
Considering his love of illustration, what makes a great photo for Raymond? "I like photography to have a concept and to be more than just a descriptive image. Another important aspect is the photographer’s ability to avoid kitschy images. I also really like photos that show the backstage, faces and general vibe around big moments at events."
What is he hoping to see at Red Bull Illume? "I think it is important to keep the classic way of thinking on photography regarding composition and color. Also, I hope the digital photos will be used creatively. Overall, I’m really looking forward to seeing the new talent."
Lyn Walker is the photo editor at Alpha Magazine, the biggest-selling monthly sports magazine in Australia.
Although she developed a passion for photography when she was young, she lost the photography-bug until she changed careers and eventually found her way back. "After University I had a five-year corporate hiatus but I missed the creative world. Instead of being behind the camera, I thought I’d like to produce photo shoots and spend my days browsing beautiful imagery. I went to London to pursue a career in photo research via the London School of Publishing. I worked at Dorling Kindersley's image department for a year until the weather there got the better of me and I came home to sunny Sydney to join News Ltd, firstly in the image library, then as a Photo Editor for Alpha."
What’s it like working for a magazine for such a sport-mad public? "I have to do lots and lots of sports photo research. A big part of my day involves selecting images for written features - from a specific tackle in a rugby match to a scantily clad sports WAG (sport stars' wives and girlfriends). I also browse thousands of sports images a day to create picture-lead spreads. Mondays can be brutal after a weekend of sport. However, my favorite days are when I’m out of the office producing photo shoots for some of Australia’s top athletes and sports stars.“ Her job responsibilities have also included Lyn representing the magazine at various adventure races – including a 6km mud run!
What kind of photos does she enjoy working with most? "I don’t take photos myself anymore - although I often wish I had a inbuilt camera in my mind's eye. Researching adventure sports photography is my favorite subject as well as images of remote and hazardous locations where photographers are not only artists but explorers.“
As she gave up a corporate career for photography, what makes her so passionate about it? "In sport especially, moments are so fast and fleeting, photography captures them and can show you a particular and unexpected viewpoint. I love seeing a specific moment in time from an individual and personal perspective."
What developments has she seen in the industry since she started? "In picture research, online access connects the researcher directly with the image which gives more choice, access and faster service. Digital photography means I can have the images on my desktop twenty minutes after a photo shoot. As technology advances, image capture and handling will change and improve with the Internet playing a key role. Some online news services now use handheld video cameras for immediate footage and high resolution grabs are extracted for newspaper use. Although I don’t think this trend will cause a decline in the photography - there will always be a skill and art involved in capturing a specific moment."
Lyn is looking forward to Red Bull Illume because "it promotes and celebrates adventure and extreme sports photography around the world."
Sports Illustrated set out to be "not a sports magazine, but the sports magazine." In the 1950s, few believed that it would survive for long. Sports coverage was then judged to be too thin on the ground, and not serious enough to sustain a weekly magazine.
Over 50 years later, it has over 3 million subscribers and is read by 23 million people a week. Its annual swimsuit issue still creates semi-hysteria after its original launch in 1964. Jim Colton has been in the photography business for 38 years, with 12 of them as photo-editor at Sports Illustrated "looking at thousands of images a day." For Jim, it's the daily routine of finding a "photo that stops me cold" that gives him job satisfaction.
What does he think makes a great photo? "A good photo is like a good joke. If you have to explain it, it's just not that good. A good photo reaches down into your throat and grabs your heart."
Jim has also devoted much time over the years to the photography profession. "I am a big believer in giving back to the industry." He has been on the Board of Director of the Eddie Adams Workshop for over 20 years, a 4-day gathering of top photography professionals and 100 students chosen for the quality of their portfolios. He is also a mentor at JCamp, a program sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association for gifted high school students from minority backgrounds who are interested in journalism.
Other important charity projects for Jim include the Heart Gallery, a traveling photographic exhibit created to find families for children in foster care, and Do1Thing.org which brings artists together to capture the individuality and unique spirit of children deemed "unadoptable." In 2005, 346 portraits were taken which led to 150 children being adopted.
"You will not be remembered for all the material goods you've earned on this earth, but rather the inherent good you've left behind," says Jim.
Evgeni Kamenko runs several magazines as Executive Editor through SPN Publishing House – including Where Minsk and the life-style magazine MC.
After starting as a freelance journalist for several glossy magazines in Belarus, he became the chief editor of Where Minsk magazine, an alternative guide to the capital’s urban life, as well as a freelance sports journalist. He has been the executive editor of the SPN Publishing House for five years, coordinating the work of all editorial boards and planning new publishing projects.
What is a typical working day like for Evgeni? “My work starts in the morning with planning. The executive experience means an enormous level of responsibility. Most of the day is devoted to working on the current issue. I coordinate the text editing process, the choice of photographs and illustrations from photo-banks as well as advertising and discussions with partners over business matters. The second part of the day I usually devote to long-term planning and I work on contents for future issues and give tasks to freelance journalists and photographers.”
What does he love about photography? “A good photograph is the only way to transfer emotions to a reader of glossy magazines. The photography on the pages of a glossy mag is like a sauce which complements the taste of the text. What I love about photographers is their ability to close the shutter at the most unexpected moment.” In particular, he loves photos of rock diving, mountain bike races and parachuting as well as football players' expressions “at the moment when the ball crosses the line of the goal.”
Eugene think the technological development of digital photography is really distinguishing the pro's from the amateurs. “Earlier, anyone with a photo camera was a photographer. Now the photographer is a person who can fix the particular moment of a surrounding life in an artistic manner. The development of photographic technologies has given us the possibility to separate real art from the simple amateur camera play. Although anyone can release the shutter of their digital SLR, it doesn't give them a chance to become a world-known photo artist.”
After his experience with sports photographers, what makes them different? “Adventure sport photography is a matter of risk, nerve, self-restraint and enormous power alongside the excitement of overcoming the troubles of the surrounding elements. The photographer has to have nerves of steel.”
What excites Eugene about Red Bull Illume? “It’s always a pleasure to watch how photographers use crazy new strategies, how they defy physical laws and shoot athletes in new ways in order to show adrenalin in their photos and also make them entertaining to look at. I think Red Bull Illume really shows those people, strong personalities, who rise up to the challenge of defying nature while also respecting it. I’m looking forward to selecting the best of the best action and adventure sports photos.”
Greg Garry is Photo Director at Complex - magazine eye-candy for anyone with a serious fetish for streetcars, sneaker culture, hip hop and graphic art. "We all have the same artistic goal at the magazine," he says. "It's about creating something beautiful out of thin air."
How did Greg find his niche in life? "I started out in TV and film art departments, creating sets and doing props. From there I met many great photographers who I started assisting and then started working with at various magazines."
What are his career highlights to date? "I have had lots of high points. Curating several photography exhibitions, winning the National Magazine award for General Excellence in 2004 was great. I've also traveled all over the globe, worked with some of my favorite photographers. I've had the fortune of meeting and shooting some amazing artists, actors and musicians along the way. But, the best is yet to come!"
It's no surprise considering the controlled chaos of working at any magazine that Greg doesn't have a typical work day. "There's lots of production for shoots, meetings, brainstorming sessions, celebrity wrangling, budgeting. Then sometimes it's like I'm a psychiatrist, massaging egos. And of course, there are lots of photo shoots, which are the most fun. I hate typical office life though!"
Greg's passion for photography comes from its "immediacy" and its ability to describe what words sometime can't. "The old cliché that a picture speaks a thousand words is very true. A great photo lingers in your imagination forever." As for what constitutes a great photo, he has his own preferences. "I tend to like images that are funny, sexy and scary all at the same time. So many things make up a great photo. I just like seeing something you've never seen before, and perhaps never thought you would."
As for the digital revolution, Greg is a firm believer. "The switchover to digital has been a revolution, and democratized the art. There was quite a resistance at first. When photographers say to me now I want to shoot film, I'm like, how quaint. But I love the digital immediacy of knowing right away that you got the shot."
What type of photography is he into? "I like portraits and fashion best. I tend to like all the extreme sports photography, like skate and snowboarding, biking, surfing, and underwater stuff. I like seeing the human body doing unbelievable things. Golf photography, on the other hand, I can live without."
It's no surprise then that he's happy to be judging at Red Bull Illume. "Any time you shine a light on great photography is a good thing."
“People look at the images first before they decide to read anything. That always fascinated me and it makes me want to find the best photos to use at any purpose.” Photo editor and graphic designer at Salt magazine, Laura Luykenaar just loves match-making text and images.
How much has she planned her photo editor career to date? “My career ‘just happened’, I think that if you try too hard to get what you want, you’ll never be happy with what you’re getting. I just go with the flow and make it happen on its own. I found out that everything – good or bad – happens for a reason, there is no such thing as coincidence.”
She adds: “Because we are a very small company – we only have a few full time people and some freelance writers – we have to do everything ourselves. I’m always looking for photos to use with a story or finding pictures which can be interesting to write about or to be used in the future.”
However, she has one special tip for anyone interested in becoming a photo editor. “Finding things is easier when you don’t look for them!”
What makes a great photo? “My favorite photos grasp the essence of a moment. No matter if it’s a big wave rider who is about to get swallowed by Jaws or a split-second shot of a stylish board trick, if the timing is right the photo will make you go WOW! Besides that WOW-factor, I always look for the elements, how active and adventurous the photos are and if it makes a lasting impression.”
Indeed, for Laura, the image expresses more than an article ever can. “A photo still says more than a thousand words. I love that a photo can make you feel.”
She thinks that digital photography has made the profession more accessible to the public – and has opened the door for hobby photographers to be taken seriously if they meet the right standards. “I won’t say that everybody can make perfect pictures, but with a keen eye and the right amount of luck, experience and tools you’ll get very close.”
As well as democratizing the profession, Laura also believes that Red Bull Illume is giving photographers the chance to step forward from behind the camera as people. “I think that Red Bull Illume gives undiscovered talent from around the world the chance to get noticed.”
Paulo Lima is the editor at Trip magazine, a publication that "takes life seriously, without taking itself so seriously."
Founded by Paulo in 1986 at the tender age of 24, the magazine in his words is a "genuine Brazilian project" which has gone cross-platform onto the internet, CD as well as radio. It organizes its own social projects and also has its own female edition called TPM and Daslus, a fashion and style magazine.
His job description is "taking thousands of decisions and having lots of fun.“ Ever since he was young, Paulo has had a fascination for capturing images – particularly surfing, snowboarding and scenes from Brazilian life. What he loves about photography is its timelessness – "Photos keep human feelings and expressions for ever.“
How has photography changed for him since he started the magazine? "Some sports didn't change much in the last decade, but the photography involved with it changed radically. Just look at the change in surfing images for example."
Why is he getting involved in Red Bull Illume? "I want to have the chance to check how crazy athletes and photographers can be around the world!“
Proving that there’s always a way back from the road taken, Amy Feitelberg found her way back to photography after a stint as a journalist. After writing for Rolling Stone, Harper's Bazaar, Premiere and Entertainment Weekly, she completed her Master’s at NUY’s International Center of Photography and won a scholarship at the School of Photography in Prague before becoming a photo editor at Outside Magazine.
After two years of finding pictures for some of the world’s best freelance writers in outdoor travel literature, what is a typical day like? "I look at tons of promos, a million emails, go to meetings, brainstorm ideas and spend the rest of the day trying to execute those ideas."
What Amy loves about photography is how "you have to stop what you're doing and look at the photo." Connected with photography’s ability to distill time, she think that the art has a special way of exploring an individual’s sense of self and space. "I use photographic images to illustrate the subjects' sense of self. I wait for a break in form - the moment just before the mask is replaced. For me, a great photo has intimacy, technique, a vision, a voice, composition, a point of view and ambiguity."
Why does she want to get involved with Red Bull Illume? "I’m looking forward to seeing fresh, new exciting images and discovering new photographers who haven't been on my radar."
Simon is editor of the world’s longest running photo magazine, established in 1854. While it remains the most authoritative voice in the professional market in the UK, it also has a long tradition of championing new generations of photographers, campaigning for their rights, and reporting new trends.
He has been the editor at BJP for seven years, having worked in magazine publishing since 1991, and recently oversaw the relaunch of British Journal of Photography as a premium quality monthly, which follows 153 years of weekly publication. Simon is now working on the relaunch of the magazine’s website in late spring, collaborating on a new photo festival in North America, and preparing for BJP’s annual show for emerging photographers, Vision.
Simon is a frequent guest at international photography festivals, portfolio reviews and contests. He is a regular judge for Amnesty International Media Awards, Sony World Photography Awards, Photolucida’s Critical Mass, Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward and Travel Photographer of the Year, and nominates for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, Hasselblad Foundation Award, PDN 30 and the Prix Pictet.
He’s looking for images that have impact, originality and a compelling story to tell – signature images rather than picture karaoke.
Hans-Peter Junker is the chief editor of VIEW magazine and news director at Stern magazine, Germany’s pre-eminent photo-reportage and news publications for current affairs and general interest stories.
After starting his career as a journalist at Munich’s Abendzeitung, he went to work as chief news reporter at Bunte magazine in 1992 before joining Stern as its culture and entertainment chief reporter in 1997. His passion for images as well as quality news reporting then led him to the idea of creating a monthly magazine devoted to the most interesting pictures, people and news from around the globe in a modern format.
"When my fine colleague Tom Jacobi and I developed VIEW in 2005, our goal was to create a magazine in which the pictures play the leading role with the text supporting the images. In VIEW we tell our stories in pictures."
Now in its eighth year, the magazine has won awards for its content and has a significant online photo community which publishes its own E-paper and invites photographers to become members so they can create an online profile, upload their own photos and rate the images of other members.
Editor of the magazine since 2008, what is a typical day like for him? "I hunt with my photo editors for the best pictures in the world. We scan around 8,000 to 10,000 photos a day. I create the best possible layouts for the stories with my art director. However, I am more hands-off with the writers so they have time to research all the facts so that they can tell the stories behind the pictures. Generally, we’re always fine tuning the melody of VIEW magazine so we can make it as irresistible to read as possible."
What does he love about photography? "It touches you instantly. And it's after this direct emotional impact that you begin to think – sometimes in a completely new direction. I think photography is the most emotional art besides music."
As an editor in the digital age who is reliant on images-on-demand, Junker is positive about the advances in photography and communication. "Digitalization makes it possible now to have eyes all around the globe and to get a photo from anywhere within a very short period of time."
Even though Hans-Peter is used to seeing thousands of images a day about every topic possible at the click of a button, he is excited about seeing Red Bull Illume’s collection of action and adventure sports photography. "I’m happy to have the chance to see incredible new pictures from gifted photographers first hand."
"I’m looking forward to seeing the world’s most outstanding adventure sports images. I can’t wait to see the passion, thrilling lifestyle and culture behind the shots," says Tibor Sárvári, Editor-in-chief at Offline and WhiteLine magazines.
As the headman in Hungary’s main freesports publications for over 10 years now, what have been his career highlights to date? "The first issue of course. We have also published some interviews with some legendary BMX-Snow-Skate riders. Other highlights were the X-Games Special issue and the first Photo Issue for Offline magazine. It’s great just to cover so many great extreme sport events all over the world."
Although Tibor is aware that digital photography has transformed the profession, he still thinks that film-based photography has its advantages. "Analog technologies have the ability to capture the nature of the real world with great finesse. Although this is still an advantage for some high-level analog technologies, including photography, it is the only one and the digital technologies are catching up very fast."
What does he love about freesports photography? "I really like street-location shots and the amazing landscapes you get in the background of snowboarding photos. For me, photos capture the spirit of a theme and evoke emotion for once-in-a-lifetime moments."
Since its launch in 2000, Transworld Motocross has remained the only complete motocross magazine for the die-hard biker into freestyle motocross or racing.
Its photo editor for four years, Brendan Lutes has played his part in delivering jaw-dropping photos for the magazine. “I love to be able to stop a moment in time and show the world what I see at a specific moment. Obviously I really like shooting motocross, but specifically I enjoy shooting freestyle motocross because you can be much more creative with angles and composition.”
How did he get his first gig in photography? “After graduation, I met the editor of Dirt Bike magazine, and even though I only knew the basics of photography, I opened my mouth and said that I could shoot photos. One thing led to another and the following week I was out tagging along at the track helping out with a photo shoot.”
After discovering his passion for photography, Brendan enrolled at the Brooks Institute of Photography and then studied journalism at Arizona State University before eventually getting his first editorial job at Cycle News. One year later, he landed his dream-job at TWMX.
What is a typical day like at the magazine? “No day is really ‘typical’ for me. Each week brings something new, which is what I enjoy about the job so much. One day I could be in the office working on photos and stories and the next I will be out shooting photos. I’ve been all around the world and even on a music tour, living on a tour bus. My job definitely has taken me places I never thought I’d be.”
Asked how the industry has changed, Brendan is aware that digital has effectively pushed analogue photography to the sidelines. “No one in action sports photography really uses film anymore. I think shooting film is almost a lost art, and I sometimes miss spending time in the darkroom printing black and white images. You can now take a digital image and make it look exactly like an image shot with film."
What is his career highlight to date? “I would say that the first cover photo I ever got was the proudest moment of my career. It was a shot of Ricky Carmichael during one of his perfect seasons in motocross.”
As a judge, what is he looking out for in this year’s Red Bull Illume? “My biggest thing with a great photo is that it has to be clean and uncluttered, with good composition. Photos that tell a story are also some of my favorites.”
What does he think about the contest itself? “I think Red Bull Illume is an awesome contest and really showcases very talented photographers from the action sports world. It takes a lot of hard work and practice to shoot good action sports photos, and it’s great to see that recognized in such a cool and creative way.”
"A great photo is when I feel touched, moved, excited from the first look. It’s a photo that doesn’t let me go, one that I won't forget," says Inas Fayed, editor-in-chief of Leica Fotografie International.
An independent magazine for anyone fascinated by one of the world’s leading camera manufacturers, LFI includes portfolios of internationally renowned photographers and new talent, in-depth reviews, user tips and features on the latest developments in digital and analogue photography.
While studying art history at university, Inas found her passion after attending lectures on the history of photography and got her first editor job at Macintosh magazine. "Back then, the digital revolution in photography was on its way. We developed the first purely digital photography magazine in Germany, which was really exciting. There were many people laughing at us when we did our cover shoots with a 3-megapixel consumer camera. Imagine doing a double-page spread in a regular magazine format with that now! It was really hot and new back then. And then after a couple of years people stopped laughing about using digital!"
As an editor linked with a major player in photography with a history that dates back to 1913, what does she make of the new developments in the industry? "Many camera manufacturers that are big today grew with the digitalization of photography, while many classic camera manufacturers who concentrated on the optical background became smaller. But in the end we need good cameras which are more than just a big chip, quick processors and an uncountable amount of presets."
What does Inas love about photography? "Photography pretends to be the image of reality, but, in truth, so much depends on the eye of the photographer and the viewer. But a good photo shows multiple dimensions of one world. It tells a story in just one single frame. And by doing so it leaves it up to you to complete the story by yourself."
fotoMAGAZIN is a monthly periodical with a print run of over 80,000 copies. In Germany, the magazine is one of the leading photography magazines and has been on the market for 60 years.
In 1987 Zollner received his degree in Mass Communications at Munich University and began his journalistic career as a film critic in 1987. From 1987 to 1991 he was the editor of several film magazines in Munich and after that he decided to devote himself completely to photography.
He started working with fotoMAGAZIN in 1991 as Director of Photography and from October 2003 to February 2006 he was Editor in Chief of the German periodical Photo Technik International. He returned full-time to fotoMAGAZIN in 2006, becoming the Managing Editor in March 2007.
"In Saudi Arabia, as far as I'm concerned, the photography industry has developed immensely in the last 10 years," says Salem Basabeen, photo editor at Al Zawiah magazine. "We have seen not only the introduction of digital photography, but also new media tools. Globalization has exposed Saudi Arabia to all the latest technologies."
Salem studied media and communications at the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He then started his photography career in 1997 as a photo journalist and graphic designer for Assayarat, an Arabic car magazine. His career highlight to date was getting his current position at Al Zawiah in 2007.
What is it like working at Saudi Arabia’s premier photography magazine? "In each new issue of Al Zawiah, we take a new challenge or a new idea or concept that will make our upcoming issue different and more exciting than the previous one. My day starts with the magazine board meeting to discuss subjects to be published in the upcoming issue. After that I review all photo and editorial contents scheduled for publishing. I then review the new editorial tasks and assign team members to handle them."
What does he love about photography? "It has an ability to portray facts, reality and action in a neutral but also beautiful way. Photography also enhances your creativity and sharpens your view of the world around you. If you are a photographer, you pay more attention to the smallest details around you and learn how to discover beauty in everything. I also love that it is a common language that anyone can understand."
Why was he interested in being a judge for Red Bull Illume? "I appreciate that the contest is open to photographers from any part of the world. It’s also linked to Red Bull, which is known globally for its huge involvement in sports and youth activities. I also want to congratulate and support the photographers and athletes involved who make such beautiful photos."
Dave Reddick's story reads a bit like one of those old CBS Back-to-School Specials. Kid gets camera, starts shooting photos of his buddies skiing, and dreams of being a professional ski photographer. Kid goes to college, works hard in photojournalism school, lands internship, works his way up the ladder, and eventually becomes staff photographer and photo editor of a major ski magazine.
Only thing missing from his story is the cheesy drama. All joking aside, Dave basically had a dream - and now he's living it. For the past 18 years, he's been photo editing Powder as well as its sister publication Bike magazine. Though the pair of magazines focus on completely different sports, Dave thrives on it. “They kind of compliment each other. I think there's a lot of similarities between skiing and mountain biking. They feed off each other and you find a lot of people that overlap and do both sports,” he says. “From a work perspective though it's absolutely a full load, but it's something I enjoy immensely.”
What was his favorite cover shot for the magazine? "We were in Bansko, Bulgaria, a pretty exotic location, fantastic ski area, but it turned out that at the base of the ski area they had artists come in and create these ice sculptures that looked like big spines, like Hershey's Kisses almost but they went super vert about 35 feet high. They weren't really meant to be skied. So we wound up using snowmobiles to tow the guys into these things. They were reaching all the way up to the very top and riding them like a quarter pipe."
What advice would you give photographers hoping to get their images published? “Shoot what you feel. Don't try to duplicate what you've seen published. Distinguish yourself. If you're at an event for instance, take a look at where the other photographers are and do the opposite."
Covering a local political campaign isn't an assignment many fine-arts photography students would take on, but for Eileen Ryan, it was all part of tailoring her studies to her career. "I used to write a lot when I was a young kid - I was the editor of the paper in high school," she explains.
While pursuing her BFA in photography at Moore College of Art and Design, she continues, "I started to shoot in a journalistic style. All my early interests came back and I realized, 'Oh, maybe I'm meant to be in publishing.'" So, for her senior thesis, Ryan tailed Philly mayoral candidate W. Wilson Goode. He won the race, Eileen built a portfolio, and Newsweek published one of her campaign photos a year later.
When USA Today came calling in 2005, however, jumping into sports was not difficult. Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, as the youngest sister to six siblings - three of whom were boys - Ryan grew up playing and watching everything from volleyball to basketball to softball. "My older brother always wanted to practice his knuckleball, so I became a catcher," she laughs. "My father, every Sunday, had a golf tournament on TV. All of a sudden, being a sports editor made sense. I understand the lingo and the motivation behind a lot of the athletes."
Eileen also thinks that there is more to motor sports photography than most people would think. "I photographed a NASCAR race in Richmond, Virginia in 2007. So many people say NASCAR is boring, but if you're behind the scenes, it's fascinating. I used to have an editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer who said, 'Basically there's the arena and stadium, and those people [the athletes] are playing right in front of you. It's like a theatrical performance happening right in front of your lens.' I've always taken that to heart."
As technology has improved, Ryan's job also has evolved, and choosing images that capture mood and action while wowing the reader has become a more discerning task - especially considering the immediacy with which photographs come across her desk. "We as journalists, working for a daily newspaper with a tight deadline, now can get our images into the paper - and therefore to the reader - so much more quickly," she says. "Photography is not much of a mystery anymore. As a result, photographers need to work harder to surprise the viewer."
That surprise, for Ryan, comes from the human emotion that permeates what she considers a really outstanding image. "Driving for something [athletically] translates to someone's facial expression, whether it's exertion or frustration or celebration, and all those elements can translate into a great photograph."
What advice would see give to aspiring photographers who are looking at the talent at Red Bull Illume? "As a photographer it doesn't matter where you are at a sports event - there are pictures everywhere."
Born and raised in Port Elizabeth on South Africa's southeastern coast, SurferMagazine Photo Editor Grant Ellis has been in the water his whole life. He has ridden swells in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. He has narrowly escaped getting battered by a rogue 15-foot wave at Dungeons near Cape Town while shooting from a Zodiac boat. Grant has followed the world's Top 44 surfers around the globe as a journalist for the Association of Surfing Professionals.
But much as he loves his home continent's world-class breaks-Jeffreys Bay is a particular favorite-it was a trip to Hawaii in 1998, to shoot portraits of the Sticky Bumps surf team, that tipped the scales from surfing as a passion to a career. "After seeing the North Shore and what was going on over there, I decided there and then this was where I wanted to be. I knew photography would help me get there, and it did."
A three-year degree in commercial photography had already provided Ellis with firm grounding in the darkroom, and after a few years of shooting surf both at home and in California, he was hired at Surfer in August 2003 to run their photo department.
Surfing has come a long way from the massive redwood boards of Duke Kahanamoku's days, and, as Ellis explains, the way the sport is being captured is in keeping with its evolution. "The newest style has been influenced by skate photography; multiple-flash setups have been done by skate shooters for a while now. Photographers that used to only capture the action are really starting to understand that they need to give the full experience of the lifestyle."
What is he looking for as a surf magazine editor? "I look for good style in the action shots. The lineups should make you want to be there, and the lifestyle images should give you a sense of what it is like to be a surfer, even if you have never been near the ocean."
What does Grant make of the massive changes in surf photography over the last decade. "New angles and new surf spots are being discovered, and in the water, photographers are pushing it harder than ever. Guys are swimming deeper and deeper into the most critical parts of the wave. They're getting behind the surfer, above the surfer, under the surfer. The images we see really give the viewer the full surfing experience."
After an afternoon of rummaging through keepsakes with her mother, Andrea Verdone, deputy photo editor at Women's Health, realised that photography saves the past from being lost forever. "I think I was in sixth grade, and my mom was going through a box of stuff in the garage, stuff from her childhood. There weren't a lot of photos," she recalls. "I remember asking her questions, and she said she couldn't remember a lot and wished she had more photos. Ever since then I've been in love with photography."
A semester abroad in Florence, Italy, during her college years at Reading, Pennsylvania's Albright College is what took Verdone from shutterbug to serious photographer, and her tastes since then have shifted from merely cementing personal memories to using images as a way to spark the intellect.
The Jersey-native took her abilities behind the scenes to photo editing in 1999, when she accepted an internship with Elle, has been working in New York City ever since, on staff with such publications as In Style and Lucky before coming on board with Women's Health in October 2005.
Making the transition from photographer to photo editor was a natural one for Verdone, and being part of the production process is something she wouldn't trade for anything. "Being an editor opens your world up to all these amazing talents we have. Every photographer you meet is so different; I always feel like I’m seeing something completely new. There's nothing more impressive when you're flipping through someone's portfolio than to see an image that makes you stop, whether it's an emotional moment or physical. In sports photography especially, I just love those fast shutters and getting that great action."
Boris Muradov is the editor-in-chief at Digital Photo magazine, Russian main publication for professional photographers and enthusiasts.
He began his career as a special correspondent for Russia's biggest weekly news magazine Arguments and Facts, which used to have the largest print-run in the world with 33.5 million copies. After 1985, the magazine was one of the leading publications in the Glasnost campaign to open up the activities of government institutions in the Soviet Union.
Boris then worked as a full-time journalist for the F1 championship for several years before returning to photography at Digital Photo nearly three years ago.
How did he get involved in photography? "I got carried away with photography when I was a teenager. I was also photographing and printing images in a darkroom. When I became a journalist later, I always had a camera in my hands and shot pictures for my articles as well - whether it was in war zones, car road tests or at Formula 1 races."
What is a typical day like? "I wake up early, write and edit texts with images on my computer. I have a lot of meetings with photographers and partners. I spend half my day on trips meeting people regarding events and magazine activities. The work is sometimes very hard, but it's fascinating."
For Boris, what makes a great photo? "Firstly, great talent. And then it's about great persistence, great knowledge, a great camera and lens. And then you need a little bit of good fortune."
How has the photography industry changed in Russia since the digital age arrived? "You can do something by just one click on the computer keyboard, which still amazes me. Before, it took days, weeks, airplanes and a whole lot of paper to do anything."
As a judge, what interests him about Red Bull Illume. "Honestly, I appreciate everything the contest is about: really dynamic action sports photography as an art form. I think Red Bull Illume's philosophy is really positive."
"I am very honored to be a judge and am looking forward to seeing some great photos," says Tokushi Akai, editor in chief of SF1ST surf media magazine.
A self-confessed surf-addict, he got his dream-job after being approached by a media publishing company while surfing to get involved with one of Japan's leading freesports publications. For Tokushi, a typical day involves getting out of the office rather than staying inside too much. "I love surfing obviously. I check the surf at 6am. I'll go out if the swell is good."
A great photo for him has to have "sense and zeal" and be able to "cut out a unforgettable moment" in time. Tokushi is also curious if Red Bull Illume 2010 will show a trend in the revival of film photography. "It's interesting that the role and importance of film photography is being reviewed again now. I'll be interested to see what the balance of film and digital photographs are in the submissions."
A veteran of newspaper photography already, Paul Sanders has spent plenty of time on both sides of the picture desk. His career began in 1991 at The Daventry Express but he soon moved on to Newsteam in Birmingham, a large regional news agency that supplies images to all of the U.K.'s national magazines and newspapers.
In 1996 while still at Newsteam, Sanders was busy establishing a joint operation with the Manchester Evening News when he was tapped by the paper to become their new deputy picture editor. Two years later, Sanders joined Reuters as the U.K assignments editor and then moved onto the picture desk at the venerable London newspaper, The Times. He was only able to serve a short stint there before the road started calling his name again.
In 2003, he leaped from the photo desk back into the field, working as a freelance photographer for Reuters, Associated Press and The Times. Of course, the yo-yo life between being a photographer in the trenches and editing pictures for newspapers continued and Sanders soon found himself back at The Times where he has been the picture editor for the last six years.
What makes a great photo? "For me it is an image that takes you straight to the heart of a story and enables the reader to virtually feel the moment in which the image was created. Great photographs, when I see them, make the hairs on my neck stand up."
How has industry changed in the past five years? "There is a lot more of it. I see upwards of 15,000 pictures every day and to be honest 75 percent of it is unnecessary. Digital photography and the advances in mobile communication mean that photographers can send many more pictures at less cost. On the plus side, these changes in technology have also freed up the photographer to concentrate wholly on making great pictures."
If you want a wry take on sports and popular culture, ESPN Magazine is there to keep you entertained. Jennifer Aborn has the demanding task of finding great shots for a fortnightly magazine with a circulation of over 2 million readers for fans of any sport from American football, ice-hockey to college basketball.
She became interested in photography after her mother took her to a Robert Frank exhibition, the Swiss photographer famed for his sceptical outsider's view of American society and experimental images. She then graduated from Purchase College in New York in 1999 with a major in photography.
Jenifer got her first photo editor role in 2003 at SLAM magazine and then STRIKER. The experience of working on basketball and soccer photography was the perfect apprenticeship for her current position. "I love photographing any action sport from skateboarding to surfing but I also love shooting soccer."
What are her career highlights to date? "Just being able to work on action sports and other professional sports for ESPN Magazine. My first cover shoot was special for me as well as haven shoots I directed being nominated for photography awards."
After three years in her current role, what is a typical day like? "If I am on location, I produce the photo shoot and direct the photographer. If I am in the office my job requires researching specific stock or action images, setting up photo shoots and meeting with photographers and editors."
For someone with experience with action sports as well as more traditional sport photography, what makes a great photo? "It's the composition and the lighting. For action photos, I think it's a photo that best captures the moment that shows the trick or run, with the most emotion possible, while still making sure it reads clearly to the viewer. I also love seeing the environments and photos that tell a story."
Why is she getting involved with the competition? "I love Red Bull photography, and I think Red Bull Illume is a great idea."
"What I find amazing is that I don’t think the learning involved in photography is ever anywhere close to complete," says K Madhavan Pillai, the editor of Better Photography magazine, the largest selling professional photography magazine in South Asia. "The only thing that one can hope to achieve is describing something as one sees it, or expressing something as one wishes to express it."
In publication for over 12 years now, Better Photography reaches out to over 300,000 hobby and professional photographers. Pillai has been in the field of photography, imaging and publishing for the last 15 years. Apart from commercial assignments in the industry, he has also produced several independent video documentaries and films.
Why did he get involved in photography? "I was fortunate to be introduced to it by my father, who used to teach photography. I loved the freedom of roaming around on foot taking pictures with my old, beat-up Pentax Spotmatic which I had to bind in black insulation tape because of light leaks."
What is a typical day like? "This is the sort of job that involves a lot of thinking, which I enjoy. With Better Photography, a balance needs to be struck between being a serious journal of photography and something enjoyable for a young teenager with an interest in taking pictures. I discuss ideas with my team and try to be a good friend, philosopher, guide, devil’s advocate and punching bag all rolled into one. I also go through about two or three hundred images every day, sometimes thousands."
How has the photography scene changed in India in the last decade? "I see a lot of great work done by some very young people nowadays. There is also a lot more experimentation today with some fantastic results. The digital darkroom, which was almost invisible ten years ago, is now commonplace. In India, photography is now gaining recognition as a serious form of art."
What does he love about sports photography? "Sports is all about the action. It can also be a variety of emotions: joy, jubilation, sorrow, pain, determination, dejection. I love seeing the emotions on the athletes' faces."
As a judge, what is he looking for? "I tend to be a bit of a classicist when judging images. There are technical guidelines for what makes a good photo, but there can be no rules. But a good photograph can often go beyond these guidelines. It could also possibly be something more raw."
Why is he getting involved with Red Bull Illume? "I like the fact that it is an open contest, and that Red Bull has taken an active interest in photography. I am really looking forward to seeing some great adventure sports photographs."
"Mountain biking is what makes me live and breathe," says Luis Lopes, the photography editor at ONBIKE magazine in Portugal. "Radical sports are my great passion. All the inherent adrenaline just makes me live."
What is a typical day like? "The first thing in the morning is to get the kit set for a morning session. My daily routine also includes reviewing photos, emails. Picking pictures for the next edition, setting up a picture gallery and uploading more pictures. In the afternoons I usually finish up with a late afternoon picture session."
One piece of advice Luis has for photographers - always check your gear before a shoot. "One day I went to do this mountain photographic session which included an hour climbing up the hill. After getting there I started to sort out the gear and to my dispair I noticed that all the memory cards were left at the base camp. After a lot of cursing and pocket digging I was left with only the emergency card which could make about 7 pictures! With the light approaching the ideal moment I was left no chance other than to take a picture, check it and then to decide whether I should delete it. Of course I did get the frame I wanted but never the less, I was forced to delete some very nice pictures over the day."
However , the story also says something about what Luis loves about photography - getting out in the great outdoors. "Having contact with nature while I am photographing is of extreme importance to me. Although the fact of being able to create images for the enjoyment and fulfillment of other people is something that gives me the most satisfaction."
What makes a great photo? "It's the power of creating an image that makes the audience wonder 'how is this possible?' - which might be the same feeling the photographer had when he took the shot."
What does he make of the changes in the industry? "Suddenly everything is more simple and practical in the digital age. Picture-taking has become a universal act in which anyone can be a photographer. On the other hand, if one can be good at editing, all sorts of 'retooling' may be possible. The revolution in photography has been positive but at the same time I do miss the times when a professional photographer's work was more notable and valued as a craft."
As for Red Bull Illume, what does he like about it? "The fact that it is the only world-wide contest where people that cover this kind of sports events can get their work recognized. To be one of the elected jurors is a great privilege for me."
Christophe Commarieu, director of Surfos magazine, originally arrived in Costa Rica from his native France in 1992 with a camera, an accounting qualification and some savings to get by. What followed was an unexpected turn of events.
"A friend of mine who visited told me all about the place, the waves, the people, the nature. When I first came over to visit, I only stayed for such a long time because I got hit in the eye by a racket ball on the beach and had to rest for five months. I had planned to visit Fiji. I liked it so much here that I decided to come back the next year. If I hadn't got hit by the ball, who knows if Surfos would ever have existed!"
Surfos magazine was born in 1995 as a supplement of the Tico Times newspaper. After several issues it became independent as a surf magazine for Costa Rica. Two years later it branched out its coverage to all of Central America, and then in 1999 expanded again to reach 14 countries in Latin America. Today, information is published daily in Spanish on its website and in a monthly print edition.
“I am proud of the journey that Surfos has made in the 15 years since it has been established,” Commarieu says. “Little by little, we have evolved and improved in so many aspects so that we could be where we are today, a place where we are recognized for the intense focus on our subject - the high level of surfing in Latin America!”
He also believes that Central and South America has the potential to rival other top surf-locations. "Latin America as a continent can be the elite place for world surfing. It's only a matter of time. Peru already has some of the world's best surfers. The surf circuit here is weaving together a big Latin American family too."
As a judge, Christophe is on the look out for photos with a "great angle" and "images that surprise me." Time will tell if Latin America will feature among the stunning locations in this year's Red Bull Illume.
Calvin Bradley is the assistant editor and photo editor at Zig Zag magazine, the undisputed authority on surf and beach culture in South Africa since 1976.
After studying graphic design and working as a clothes designer for a local surf company in South Africa, Calvin found his way back into photography after moving into the graphic design and publishing industry. "What these endless hours of retouching photos has taught me is that a great photographer is a gift from God as little or no work is needed to get their photos print ready."
What does he enjoy about being a photo editor? "There are moments when you secure some amazing photographs for the magazine that feel pretty special, especially if I was involved with making the shoot happen by tipping off the photographer where the surf will be good and organizing a crew of surfers to be there for the photograph."
What advice would he give to a rookie photographer hoping to make it in action sports photography? "Sometimes it helps to focus tight on the action so you can see the commitment and focus in the athlete’s eyes. Other times the photo calls for the photographer to pull way back to get the scenery in the background and give the viewer a feel for the scene of the action."
What makes a great photo? "The difference between an average photo and a great photo is all in the artistic eye of the photographer. Some photographers know their equipment and the lighting conditions like the back of their hand, yet they don’t take very inspiring photos as they are missing the artistic flair of a great photographer."
For Calvin, great photographs are those that truly inspire the viewer to be at that moment. "I think it is really special to be able to capture a moment in time so that all those who were not present at that moment can still get to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of photography. Being able to see an image that makes you excited and dream of being there in that moment is a pretty special thing."
How has the job changed in the last decade? "The basics of photography have remained the same. A good photographer from ten years ago is still a good photographer today. But everything is so ‘instant’ now."
What has exactly changed in the photo editing process? "Ten years ago, if our publication sent a photographer and a bunch of surfers on location to some distant country we wouldn’t even get to see the images until a few days after they have returned back from the trip. Even then we’d need to power up our light-box, grab the magnifying glass thingie - which I only recently learnt is called a ‘loupe’ - and squint at the slides until we could decide which to use in our magazine. Then you had to send those slides off to our reproduction department to get scanned and before you know it, it’s two weeks later and your magazine isn’t finished and deadline is looming."
As Calvin explains, the photo editor's work flow has changed considerably. "Nowadays while they are still on the trip they can send us a daily slideshow for our website and drop the Hi-Res images onto our FTP server ready to be touched up and placed in the magazine – instantly."
Why is he getting involved with Red Bull Illume? "Competitions like Red Bull Illume are a great way to showcase just what great photographers there are out there in this big world of ours."
Since 1999, the Metro newspaper has had a massive impact on UK newspaper industry. Distributed for free and designed to be read in 20 minutes by commuters on the way to work, the paper now has 14 localized editions around the country and a print run of 1.25 million.
Alan Sparrow has been the Executive Picture Editor since the newspaper's foundation and oversees a picture desk that has to search through an ocean of images for Metro's mix of articles on travel, arts, homes, style, health and entertainment. "We have to look through twenty thousand pictures a day and get them down to the few dozen that we use in the paper."
Due to the increasing amount of photo agencies and digital images, the amount of images a photo editor has to evaluate per day is increasing year after year. What changes has Alan seen in the industry since he started as a messenger boy at a Fleet Street picture agency after he left school?
"I suppose normal produce for a day’s work 30 years ago would have been 100 or 200 photographs but now we get that in less than an hour. So on Oscar night in 2007 we had something like 900 pictures of Dame Helen Mirren alone. Every three seconds a new image arrived. At this year's Oscars, we had in excess of 12,000 pictures on the following morning to sift through."
These numbers almost pale in comparison with the record. "The most images we’ve ever had in one day was 42,000 - again on Oscars night. But this was closely followed by the Haiti earthquake this year. Including other news on Jan 12th, it pushed the number of photos to about 40,000 in 24 hours. That’s a huge number of pictures to sort through."
Alan is also the chairman of the Picture Editor's Guild. The organization was established in 1977 and is formed by around one hundred members from the picture desks of the national press, regional newspapers, international press agencies and domestic photo agencies.
What does he love about photography? "I love the instant message that a picture can bring. As for sports photography, you have to chance to see so much passion and energy which I'm looking forward to see in this year's Red Bull Illume."
A keen photographer since age five, Chelsea Stickel says she found her calling as a photo editor and currently works at American Photo, as well as Garden Design magazine.
Stickel studied visual communications at Ohio University before “getting her feet wet as a photojournalist at a couple of small newspapers.”
“I’m still a photographer at heart,” she says. “A great photo captures a moment and allows the audience to experience an emotion or reaction to that image.
“While technical excellence is important, the content, composition, emotion in that photo needs to be strong enough to engage a viewer.”
She takes a professional interest in Red Bull Illume: “I am always on the lookout for new talent – photographers who are on the front lines taking a new approach to a timeless subject.
“Sports and adventure photography has been around through the ages, but I’m interested in what this generation is doing to make it different and exciting.”
Although she views thousands of images each week, she finds her job regularly provides a new challenge.
“No day is ever typical. As a photo editor, I’m responsible for the photography in each magazine, so I do whatever it takes: working with elite photographers to select images for their profiles, researching stock, setting up and sometimes shooting photo assignments.
“This month, you may have seen me attending photography classes and meeting with emerging photographers at some of the nation’s finest photography conferences.”
Stickel is acutely aware of the change in the industry, mainly brought about by the advent of digital photography.
“With so many great photojournalists losing their jobs, it is crucial for photographers to find their niche, and pull away from the pack. There are so many photographers that can make a good picture, but today’s industry demands to know what makes you different, more creative, unique.”
However, she sees photography as a medium with an important future.
“As photographers, we are able to capture moments in time that might otherwise be forgotten. They can be as simple as a hug or as complex as a natural disaster – but they are important to preserve nonetheless.”
"I was snowboarding in the early 90s and luckily realized early on that I wasn’t cut out to be a pro. So I started shooting photos of my friends who were good enough!" Apart from being a good enough photographer, sometimes fortune plays a part. In Nick’s case, good and bad fortune led him on his path into photography.
One afternoon in 1995, while hanging out with friends at the local snowboard shop, in came an editor from Harper's & Queen who was doing research on a snowboarding story. Nick always carried his portfolio and camera with him and showed it to anyone willing to look. She liked his photos and – wham! – Nick was published in one of the most well respected magazines in Europe. "That was a good turning point for my parents to see, 'Okay he's not just out there wasting his time'."
However, he also experienced another life-changing moment which persuaded him that photography was the right life-choice for him. "When I was 18, I was taken hostage at a bank robbery in London. I even had a gun in my throat. After that, school seemed pretty insignificant so I moved to the French Alps to start shooting full time. It was a lucky break in a way."
The UK based snowboard magazine White Lines and then Transworld gave Nick his first jobs and commissioned him as a photographer and writer. After six years of working on shoots in France, Canada, South America and the US, he moved into photo editing at TransWorld SNOWboarding in 2002. However, he still manages to get behind the lens when he can. "Shooting snowboarding with a small group of top riders somewhere with good powder, that’s the ultimate."
How has the industry changed since he started? "When photographers were shooting film, the technical knowledge of light, composition, gear and film was incredibly advanced. So many techniques were needed to get a specific look, which took years to learn and was then kept as a closely guarded secret. Nowadays with digital, many of these techniques have been lost or are no longer needed. Photoshop makes any look attainable. Now it’s mostly about nailing that RAW image at the peak moment and processing later."
After judging in 2007, what brought Nick back to Red Bull Illume again in 2010? "You don’t get to see such a collection of most striking images from so many exciting sports in one place anywhere else. Red Bull Illume is unmatched for action sports photography. But it’s also about the amount of photography talent in these sports which I think is truly amazing and something I can’t support enough."
Returning for a second time to the Red Bull Illume Judging Panel is Brenda Milis, Director of Photography at Men’s Health magazine, a position she has occupied since October 2008. The magazine is the world’s largest and best-selling men’s publication, with 43 international editions and a readership of 22 million people around the globe.
Her interest in photography stemmed from her studies at Northwestern University where she studied art history with an emphasis on history of photography.
“I moved onto gender and media studies at New School of Social Research, New York City where I also completed a number of internships, crucially one at Jane Magazine which led me into photo editing.”
Work at other publications and websites followed, including at Outside magazine which she describes as a career defining moment. “It completely changed the kind of photos I worked with.”
“The best thing about my job is its balance: It’s equal parts creativity, collaboration, and organization. A photo editor wears many hats so it doesn't get boring. I think you also have to be pretty darn social because you talk to many, many people every day.
“You manage tons of details and tons of personalities. It can be draining but very rarely is it boring.”
National Geographic magazine was first published in 1888 with that iconic yellow frame. With a worldwide circulation in thirty-two language editions of nearly nine million, more than fifty million people receive the magazine every month.
The magazine became famous for exclusive pictorial footage after 1905 when it published several full-page pictures made in Tibet in 1900–1901 by two explorers from the Russian Empire. As director of photography and video, Melissa Wiley has to ensure that the magazine continues its tradition of having the best photo-journalism on world culture and nature.
“As a true lover of photography, it was a real honor to be asked to join NationalGeographic. It was definitely a career defining moment for me to see my name in print on the magazine masthead for the first time.”
After being at the magazine for three years, what is a typical day like? “I spend a lot of my time working closely with photo editors reviewing new projects and overseeing new work to be published on NationalGeographic.com. I also work closely with our video producers on new content creation. As a Director I am responsible for representing photography and video online to various internal and external partners, as well as setting the editorial direction for photography on the National Geographic web sites.”
What does she love about photography? “It's about capturing a moment in time, carrying it with me, and share a part of the world that others might never see. For me, a great photo is one that captures a moment that tells me a story.”
National Geographic was one of the first publications to use color photography in the early twentieth century when the technology was rare. These days, National Geographic has quickly shifted to digital photography for both its magazine and website. What does Melissa think of the changes in photography over the last decade?
“The thing that seems to have changed the most is the way in which we consume this medium. I have seen a great movement from print to web. A photograph is a photograph, whether it’s captured on film, digital, or even a phone.”
Why is she interested in Red Bull Illume? “Adventure photography is so much a part of the National Geographic brand. I am very excited to extend my experience in this genre to this contest.”
Light in the Dominican Republic has a unique quality that accentuates colors and shapes with vibrant rhythms that fill your soul. This, obviously, has always been a major influence throughout my life and led me right into graphic design. During my ten years as a graphic artist, I became involved in the processing and retouching of pictures, which boosted my sensitivity towards detail, composition, and lighting; increasing my curiosity about the expressive possibilities of images. It was unavoidable for me to pick up a camera, and for the last five years I have kept learning by myself every day.
My photography had a way of finding room in my drawers and on my hard drive until spring 2005, when I joined an online photographic community under the alias Pindaro. The feedback received from this exposure, in addition to the work of so many talented photographers from all over the world, enriched my photographic perspective and helped me create and strengthen a personal style.
Menzo is the only bi-monthly magazine in Belgium that combines lifestyle, sport and top photography. Art Director De Weerd is responsible for the creative output.
“I collect all artistic footage. I am responsible for the photo choice and produce outprints from image material. The variety in my job makes my day exciting!”
De Weerd is a seasoned pro, and her knowledge and expertise with images come from years of working in the industry.
“I studied graphic arts at St Lucas, a well-known college in Ghent and continued my studies at KASK Ghent. After graduating, I worked as an Art Director for various magazines. For the past ten years I have been working at Menzo magazine.”
De Weerd loves variety in photography and many different photographic approaches appeal to her.
“I love different styles, from a strong static black-and-white portrait right up to striking action photos!”
In De Weerd’s view, and the best photos contain narratives.
“A photo must fascinate and give the viewer a certain feeling. A great photo captures a moment in time and tells a story.”
De Weerd is particularly delighted that action sports photography is being showcased in an international competition that gives credit to the artists.
“Red Bull Illume is a fantastic project and gives photographers the chance to show their talent to the entire world! I’m really curious and I am looking forward to judging the submissions!"
Skateboarding magazine Wood was created by Jelle Keppens and a few other like-minded people who had all run magazines before. Being a photographer, Keppens loves to go out on photo shoots, and works as a staff photographer for Volcom.
He knows the value of good photographs in a magazine.
“I think good quality photos and tricks are important for a print mag, because that’s where we can still make a difference against the internet! And with everybody being able to pick up a digi camera nowadays, it’s even more important to only select the good stuff out of the overload of photos you get to see.”
Keppens keeps in mind a number of elements he looks for in a skateboarding shot, “A good combo is: trick, location, frame, sharpness, lighting and style of the rider.”
Analog and film shots are particularly close to Keppens’ heart.
“Call me old fashioned, but I always find myself falling in love with stuff shot on film, like the good old days. But that’s probably just because I used to be a film nerd and I guess I still am. It just has a certain feel that you can hardly create with a digital photo. It’s also way harder to shoot a good skate photo on film than a digi one, so that probably makes me appreciate it more. I also think people should stop trying to make a digi photo look like analog, when it’s shot with a digi. It’s a digi, so accept it!”
Desillusion is an independent bi-monthly magazine that covers the culture, fashion and lifestyle shared by the surf, skateboarding and snowboarding community. Started by Sebastien when he was at high school, it has grown to be the magazine it is today.
“We have quite a large scope, and that allows to us to search and discover unseen, different, weird and interesting stories and photography inside the culture!”
As a photographer who shot action sports for eight years, Sebastien has spent the last two years focusing more on action, culture and lifestyle as well as street photography.
“I’m in love with all the unstaged pictures – all the pictures that say: this moment has really happened and the photographer was there at the right time.”
There is a fine balance between good and great photography.
“A great photograph is unique – one that you can or cannot explain. It could be an attitude, an action, a reflection or simply something beautiful but, for me, it needs to be unique, unseen. If it’s good, but I have seen something similar, it’s not great.”
Photography means a lot to Sebastien and plays a big role at Desillusion.
“Photography and video have always been a big part of our culture, a central part, and is the only way to share a lifestyle. Good photography spreads the word, feeds the soul and in a certain way keeps our spirit alive.”
SOUL is an acronym for Secrets Of Urban Life. "Our magazine is interested in talent, creativity and energy, regardless of particular areas of occupation," says senior editor Dimitris Karathanos. "My position requires being able to opinionate on everything. But given the opportunity to choose, I prefer interviewing artists, reviewing books and writing about photography, which is among my strongest passions.
Even the most eloquent, precisely authored feature is nothing without the impact of an impressive image. It’s simply what draws you in or pushes you away."
He says a great photo reveals beauty in the ordinary things we tend to overlook. "No medium other than the camera offers the ability to freeze time, location and sentiment to such an extent."
Although a big fan of 'textured, overlaid and post-processed photography' Karathanos says he can't help being thrilled by street photography.
"I find that people are truer to themselves when they’re acting unconsciously. Candid photography, from the greatest masters, such as Cartier-Bresson up to modern urban shooters keep fascinating me with their determination to be out there, capturing those fleeting moments that resonate hope, optimism and visual poetry."
He's also a fan of action sports photography. "I love the effort, courage and determination in those pictures."
His tip for anyone looking to impress?
"I love textured, distorted, gritty photography as much as I appreciate point-and-shoot simplicity. Complicated or not, realistic or surrealistic, what I look into when viewing a picture is the emotion and meaning it conveys."
As a photo editor for SportWeek, the weekly Saturday supplement for Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Mancini is well versed in action sports photography. She reveals that the publication also deals a lot with the lifestyle aspect.
“We like to show our readers unexpected sides of sports and sportsmen that they normally don’t see in the media, like their social and private life or extraordinary experiences.”
She loves to meet new photographers and find out about their work.
“I meet a lot photographers, almost every day. They come to show me their portfolios and we talk about stories they would like to do or offer features they have already shot. I love seeing new pictures and hearing their stories."
The photo editor is heavily involved with photography and no stranger to competitions.
“I am also a member of Grin, the Italian association of photo editors that promote press photography in our country with exhibitions, meetings, and the photographic Award Amilcare G. Ponchielli. I usually take part in international photography festivals, portfolio lectures and contests.”
Her love of photography extends deeper to the interest in historic trends.
“I think that action sport has always been one of the best subjects for photographic and visual research.”
Mancini’s advice for photographers looking to produce something special?
“Apply your personal language to photography!”
Steve White joined Action Asia as a Staff Writer in 1998 after working in editorial roles in a variety of other – mostly less interesting – fields. An inveterate traveller, he knew at once that he had landed in the right place and today he oversees all aspects of the bimonthly's content.
“Photography is vital to make our adventure travel content work: the pics inspire our readers and make them want to delve into the words,” he says, “That they continue to do so hopefully says we are getting the right pics!”
For White, a good photograph is one which brings questions to the mind of the viewer.
“A good shot invites the viewer to imagine themselves as photographer. How did they do that? How did they get to that exact spot? How long did they wait for that instant? Could I do that too?”
“The ultimate in action photography is surely wildlife photography where the unknowns are so much greater. The photographers who accommodate these variables well are the finest craftsmen in their field in my opinion.”
The Action Asia Editor-in-chief is not a huge fan of some current trends in photography though.
“Today it’s not real until it’s hyper-real it seems, it’s not cool if it’s not Instagrammed. I hope a return to more realism is around the corner.”
He especially appreciates gritty, close-up imagery of adventurers doing their thing: “I love to have those chewed-up hands and feet, frame-filling faces and lovingly shot gear smacking me in the eyes!” he says.
As a commissioning editor for FOTO Monthly, Staszak was promoted after his publisher saw his keen interest in photography.
“My publisher offered me a job after two years of watching me get involved with certain activities in the field of photography. In those days I dealt with the preparation of the photographic festival, an edition of the national photo contest and my involvement with school photography.”
Staszak spends a lot of time keeping up-to-date with developments and trends in photography. The next edition is always on his mind as he browses portfolios and photo albums on the net. His keen eye is drawn to images that appeal directly to the viewer and provide a narrative.
“Photography that tells a story is worth more than a thousand words.”
The editor believes that technology will totally change the face of photography.
“Photography will change with the evolution of technology. It will become more accessible, faster and more accurate. The image resolution will increase and the technology will be packed into smaller and smaller cameras until they are replaced by biotechnology. We will take pictures with a blink of an eye. Literally.”
Offering advice for beginners, Staszak believes the best images are taken with patience, and by changing positions.
“Watch. Try to blend in with the surroundings, be invisible, let time pass and then press the shutter. Look for frames. Sometimes changing the angle by crouching or lying down makes the frame better, and the subject captured perfectly.”
The Photo Editor of TransWorld SURF spent eight years at the publication, left for three years to work as a marketing manager but returned and has worked at the surf publication for another four years. The return comes as no surprise when Checkwood describes what his day involves.
“Surfing, ping pong, looking at pretty surfing photos.”
‘Pretty’ surfing photos is quite important for his publication.
“Quality of photography is the key to a successful surf publication," he says. "Surfers want photos that make them want to surf and that’s our job.”
He knows what photographs are most successful.
“When you open the page and say to yourself, ‘Wow’!”
The photo editor has a keen interest in actions sports photography himself and believes it’s important to stay in the game.
“It’s a part of the job and keeps the passion going.”
When asked about what is next in photography, Checkwood jokes, “Creativity!”
Any tips for photographers wanting to impress the humorous Checkwood?
“Twenties and hundreds!”
Involved in photography from a very young age, Kerrigan first learned how to develop and print in a darkroom when he was about seven. At 15 he started working at local camera stores and studios and learning from the photographers there. Later he studied photography in college and naturally became a photojournalist both as a staff photographer and as a freelancer for newspapers for about eight years, before starting to work as an editor.
In 2007 he arrived in Abu Dhabi to help launch an English language newspaper called The National and head up the photography department.
For Kerrigan, a great photograph causes something to stir in the soul.
“I think a great photo needs to cause some sort of emotional response in the viewer. It’s not just about composition, exposure and the mechanics of the process, it’s about having something register inside."
He may be inclined towards photojournalism, but Kerrigan has a full appreciation of the art form.
“Clearly photojournalism and visual story telling is my main focus," he says. "But much like music, as long as it’s done well, I appreciate just about any form of photography."
The digital revolution in photography has resulted in countless copycat projects, and Kerrigan thinks creativity is key.
“With the incredibly high volume of photos being produced in the last few years thanks to digital photography being in every aspect of our lives, I think we’re in a real battle for originality," he adds.
He recommends taking a step away from post-production.
“Back away from Photoshop. Getting it right in-camera always looks better, and authenticity resonates with the viewer. Just because you can do something in post production, doesn’t mean you should!"
Oliver Tielsch started out in front of the lens and being covered in magazines. This led to working with photographers a lot, organizing trips, writing stuff for different magazines. After a few years, he switched sides and is currently the Editor in chief and photo editor for Monster Skateboard Magazine.
The magazine likes to keep it natural.
“We like to push harder, push the skaters to do their best, push the photographers so we can create something that sticks in people’s minds and helps our scene. Apart from that, we like to keep skateboarding in the streets. I'm not a big fan of artificial surroundings.”
Photography is an important part of the culture and keeps print alive.
“Good photography is one of the main priorities in my work. It’s one of the reasons why print still makes sense – there is a big difference to me seeing a photo in between some banner ads on a web site and having it printed in a decent layout.”
But Tielsch is still a skater at heart.
“I shoot stuff every now and then, but since I’m still trying to skate as much as I can, I try to leave it to other people. I can still do some shooting once my legs start hurting too much!”
He offers simple advice to capture that perfect shot.
“Go for that perfect feeling, rather than the perfect spot or trick!”
Richard Brooks began photo freelancing in Japan in the early 90s, working for the US television broadcaster CNBC in Hong Kong before switching to the AFP photo desk in early 1998.
“AFP is an international news wire that publishes stories in six languages, from breaking news to sports to feature stories," he says. "The photography we produce provides clients with images to match these stories, as well as stand alone photo features.”
Photographic trends are slowly changing the industry.
“The transformation from stills to video is already upon us in the news industry. Whether it means using stills from video (for news purposes), or photographers needing to multi-task and shoot both video and stills, I see a shift on what a photojournalist needs to do nowadays.”
According to Brooks, a number of factors need to happen for a good shot.
“First: good planning. Second: strong composition and good timing. Third: a bit of luck.”
He also offers a few reminders for those who get a bit carried away.
“Work with available light, shoot from a different position but sometimes it's important to keep things simple.”
Bugge Holm Hansen was climbing Pik Lenin in Kyrgyzstan in 2001 when he met the Italian editor and adventurer Emilio Previtali. After spending some time together he realized that his goal in life was not only to climb and ski for his own pleasure, but also to spread the word about the joys of outdoor life.
“I still owe him a beer for that awakening!” laughs Hansen who is now the chief editor of LUKSUS magazine.
“LUKSUS Magazine is written by and for people with passion for an active outdoor life. Luksus means luxury in Danish. Not bling, but putting the ultimate value on choosing the outdoor lifestyle. The magazine focuses on mountaineering, free ride skiing and adventure travel.”
The magazine relies on compelling images.
“Good photography is everything. Because the stories we tell are all about the experience and photography captures the very essence of that.”
The chief editor loves grittier photographs.
“Being very honest, I love the trends of action photography today. A few years ago all the pictures looked very polished, today there is more dust, tears and sweat in them. I think that this movement will grow even bigger in the future.”
Naturally, Hansen's favourite subject can be found in the mountains.
“I do have a soft spot for pictures capturing old experienced mountain people. The ones you can see have been touched by nature for years.”
Jym Wilson started as a two day a week lab technician at the Burlington (VT) Free Press in 1977 and as he says, ‘it spiraled out of control from there’. He finally became a photo editor in 1997 after 20 years shooting.
Jym now works at USA TODAY which is is known as “the nation’s newspaper”.
“I work in the Life section where the emphasis is on entertainment coverage. It’s impossible to imagine USA TODAY without good photography,” he says.
Wilson admires a variety of styles and work.
“I am inspired by the portraiture of George Hurrell, the versatility of Joe McNally and the story telling history of Eugene Smith and on-going work by Sebastio Salgado — not to mention the work of the small but steady team of photographers at USA TODAY!”
The photo editor would prefer a bit more thought to go into photography:
“Between the huge impact of today’s digital cameras, huge memory cards, still photographers shooting video and all the ways to get photos seen, I’d like to imagine a quieter, more thoughtful style of working coming around again. But it seems unlikely,” says Wilson.
Has the former shooter given up photography?
“Well, I know I’m nowhere near good enough to attempt to do it professionally anymore!”
Launching the magazine with her husband 23 years ago, Corinne 'Coco' Tâche-Berther is the Editor-in-Chief for 7sky and the passion behind the magazine is still intact.
The magazine is focused on snowboarding, surfing, skating and eco & awareness. “With each issue, we take our readers on a journey to the essence of the scene. In 2012 the themes were: Silence, BE! Forward and Upward, going with the current energy stream. In 2013 we’ll focus on Revelations, Revolution and Evolution,” says Tâche. “We cover people, projects, stories and companies who have been imprinting our boardsports with their vision and love. They are the inspirations who have set the tone for others and the generations to come through their authenticity and caring.”
The magazine relies on the photography.
“Great photography is everything. The mag can definitely only be as good as it’s images!” she says. "They need to provoke a sensation you can feel in the center of your heart – an emotion.”
Tâche-Berther loves a particular kind of action and adventure sports photograph.
“I am passionate about photos which take you right into the action, and give you this great sensation about being ‘part’ of the story that it tells.”
The editor is not phased by new trends and techniques in photography.
"I love lightwork, color-work, and I’m not at all opposed to rendering the image exceptional with re-touching. I’m keen about NEW angles, NEW colors, NEW creations!"
After college Alan Davis went into engineering, but photography and his love for two wheels steered him towards journalism ten years ago and he hasn’t looked back. For the past three years Davis has worked as an editor/senior photographer at Decline – a magazine that focuses on the gravity-enthusiast niche of mountain biking – downhill, freestyle, all-mountain and the culture that surrounds it all.
Photography plays an essential role in Decline.
“It is a large format magazine that prides itself on being like a coffee table book so the photography is super important,“ says Davis.
The editor knows what he looks for in a photograph. “Assuming an image has the basics down – exposure, focus and composition – I’d say the other two most important things are point of view and if that photo can communicate some sort of narrative that can elevate a good photo to become a great one.”
According to Davis, photographic developments now place the onus in the hands of photographers. “All of the new mirrorless cameras like the Sony Next or Olympus PEN models are affordable, compact and create very high quality images. Cameras rarely ever limit the photographer anymore; it’s all up to the user to think of an exciting and creative way to use them,” says the editor.
Red Bull Illume photographers will need to capture a few elements to impress Davis. “Since this is an action sports photography contest I think it goes without saying that dynamic, or implied, motion and compelling illumination are imperative. And like I mentioned before, a unique point of view and a narrative will push a good image over the top, but of course this is a high stakes contest so everything else in the images has to be spot on perfect. No pressure!”
Prior to writing for magazines for the last nine years, Adam Scorey spent 10 years working as a professional photographer for TV (BBC) and for newspapers. He switched to writing as it had always been a passion of his and started out as a junior editor on one of the magazines he now manages.
“For a creative person, being able to express yourself in both words and pictures is a gift I am grateful for. I love what I do; I feel I have the best job in the world – well, apart from being a photojournalist for National Geographic!” he says.
“My magazines cross the spectrum of photographic ability, from the keen hobbyist through to the working professional, in all photographic genres. Yes, beautiful, creative, insightful and thought-provoking photography is essential to everything we do. Period," says Scorey.
According to the editor, it is up to the photographers to impress: “Photography has opened up massively; the limitations now seem to be on a photographer’s imagination and time, not kit.”
Photographers will need make an impact in order to catch Scorey’s eye. “I’m looking to be inspired; image impact comes first and then the technical elements. As long as I feel or respond in some way – good or bad; ambivalence is fine, apathy is not. I also like to read good captions… failing that, a clever title,” he says.
James Mullinger has been the Photo Director of GQ Magazine for over twelve years, intitially arriving at GQ for a week’s work experience. “I knew that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I grabbed every task with both fists and made it so they couldn’t not offer me a job. A few months of unpaid work, then I was offered a junior picture researching job. Within a year I was the photo editor!” he says.
It’s a demanding industry, and Mullinger has to keep pushing the limits. “Every day is manic, as we are constantly juggling up to 30 shoots at a time, sourcing thousands of pictures, and there are just two of us on the picture desk. When I get through the month without dropping a ball, I feel satisfied for a second or two. And then it all starts again,” says the photo director.
For a magazine, photography demands context and relevance. “Editorially, what makes a photo great is it fitting the brief. Beautiful photographs are a wonderful thing, and in a gallery you can hang what you like. In a magazine you have to publish what is relevant to the story, and sometimes that means not running what is aesthetically the best photograph.”
For Mullinger, being original and authentic is key and winning the Red Bull Illume will require something special. “Shoot pictures unlike anyone else. Bring something unique to every picture you take. Force us to take notice of you!”
Ryan Hughes, currently the photo editor at Snowboarder Magazine, has been photographing snowboarding since 99. He spent most of his time freelancing and working with many different crews in the field. During this time he also worked with snowboard teams and developed relationships with all of the snowboarding magazines over the last decade. A typical day for Hughes includes a lot of judging, “I look at hundreds of photos from contributors, key wording and request high res images from those that make the grade!”
For Hughes, taking a special photo comes down to a simple recipe.
“In a general sense making a great photo takes vision, forethought of equipment needed, creativity and patience.”
According to the photo editor, the next big trend will come with lighting,
“Watch out for hyper syncing with flash equipment,” he says.
Hughes offers simple advice for photographers looking to impress,
“Get those crazy angles, and go to those new spots!”
David Langran, the creative director for Racer X Illustrated, was once an aspiring motocross racer. “I grew up racing motocross in England and like a lot of people that race, once I realized I wasn't fast enough to make a living from riding a motocross bike, I turned my attention to doing the next best thing which is working in the industry,” he says. In late '99 Langran finally ended up with a job at O'Neal motocross as their main gear designer, which was a dream come true, and was later offered the job of designer at Racer X magazine.
He describes each issue of Racer X Illustrated as a ‘blank canvas’ and spends a lot of time finding the right visuals. “Photography is very important to the magazine and we are lucky to have some of the best photographers in the industry working for us. You can have a great story, but if it isn't backed up by great photos then it falls flat,” says Langran.
The creative director is a fan of photography that really draws you in: “I like photos that really show the scale of what is going on in the image. A photo of a mountain range where it may take you a second to realize that there is actually a mountain biker on there charging a descent.”
Langran has noticed certain changes occurring in the industry. “I think action sports photographers are becoming more creative with the composition of their photos. It's about showing these sports in a way that people haven't seen before,” he says.
Daniel Novakovič works for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), a comprehensive press agency in Slovenia that mostly covers local events but also a wider scope of current affairs. “I found myself in this project, a result that was thanks to a certain set of circumstances and hard work,” says Novakovič.
The chief of staff believes perceptions of quality have changed radically due to technology. “We live in a world of image inflation caused by the digitalization of everything, not just photography. Also because of this, quality is perceived differently today than it used to be. Quality is no longer the one and only objective,” he says.
“On the contrary, rather than being measurable and touchable, quality is something that hardly fits a label or definition, yet it is exactly for this reason that it attracts attention. It is not a final(ised) attribute of an image, but a category in a circuit between the one that produces, the one that distributes and the one that consumes images. Sometimes quality simply means difference,” he continues.
Novakovič is hoping development slows a bit in photography as the change in the medium has been radical. “In the past 15-20 years, the photography overcame, at least from a technical perspective, the biggest change since its first appearance. All of us who experienced this metamorphosis in person can be very glad. But at the same time it needs to be understood that this change is only a result of other structural social changes. Thus I truly hope – now being conservative on purpose – that we will not see significant new changes soon,” he says.
Hannah McCaughey started off her career with Rolling Stone and stayed for seven years before moving to Esquire as a deputy art director for two years. She then made the move to Outside Magazine where she has worked for the past 11 years.
McCaughey currently holds the position of design & photography director.
Outside Magazine is about inspiration, “We cover all the stories that motivate our readers to live healthy, active, adventurous and mostly fun lives. It's ALL ABOUT the photos to inspire people to get OUTSIDE!” she says.
The design and photography editor thinks post-production trends will change: “I think the next thing is going to be minimally retouched images that feel really real and intimate.”
McCaughey thinks a great photograph is composed of several elements: “A surprise, big or small, a real gesture and beautiful colors!” she says and adds some advice for photographers competing in the competition: “Be true to yourself and good luck!”
Al Nadi newspaper is one of the top 3 daily newspapers specialized in sports and a sister to the "Okaz" the highest circulated newspaper in Saudi Arabia. It is published in Jeddah and distributed to the Arab readers in whole Saudi Arabia and Middle East by Okaz Group, one of biggest publishing house in the region.
Al Bukairy likens a typical day in the office to a football match. "You start with strategy implementation, increase the rhythm and apply tactics, there are attacks and scores, then triumph when you get the issue printed!"
"Photos are integral parts of the stories published," he adds. "Also, a photo by itself can create a whole story without even a single word.
"Photography is adopting and absorbing digital innovations quickly. The new high tech equipment now satisfies the need of both serious photographers, via digital cameras and people who just need a beautiful photo to share on Facebook or to Tweet, via a mobile with a built in camera.
"But a great photo," he adds, "should reflect a high quality, tell a story, show details, be visually stunning and emotionally engaging."
His tip for would-be category winners? "Show me a photo that engages me emotionally and stays in my memory forever!"
As the Bogotá photo editor of the Associated Press, one of the world's leading press agencies, Mazalán is often on the road covering the most important stories of the day. A seasoned pro, he has shot many of the world's major conflicts in the last 20 years from civil war in Somalia to the drug wars of Colombia. He has also covered numerous sporting events such as the Olympics, soccer World Cups and Formula 1 races.
These days his work involves organising other photographers in the field, ensururing local desk editors get the best coverage possible of the day's major stories.
"An international news agency covers a wide range of stories, from important political news and international sport competitions to wars; from international arts and entertainment to local daily life. But everything is about good photography," he says.
Like many editors, he's concerned by how technology threatens credibility.
"As more people becomes familiar with digital manipulation the faith of the audience in photography as a truthfull format declines. The credibility of the messanger remains key," he says.
But he says he's still able to pick out a good photo when he sees one.
"It's the moment of the action, the moment of the light, the intimacy, the right moment… the moment that generates emotion."
He adds: "A picture is something you don´t need to explain. It is a visual impact and must be understood at first sight."
Kim Scott-Clark is a picture editor on one of the world's most popular newspapers and before that was picture editor of the Daily Telegraph.
"I have been involved in newspapers for all of my career, firstly as a photographer and then as a picture researcher/editor." he says.
During a typical working day he can look at up to 30,000 images.
"The Daily Mail covers every story from hard news to light hearted material. The quality and content of photography is vital. If given the right display a great image or set of photographs will stand out across the entire news run of pages, often being used as a spread."
A great photo requires two things, he says. "Firstly it needs the 'wow' factor — an image with drama, action and intensity will stop the reader in their tracks. Secondly and perhaps more importantly to me is if the image persuades me that I want to be there — stunning lighting, composition, human engagement or just pure excitement. The image must ignite my own imagination so that I forget other thoughts."
He adds: "I love all forms of photography — I can be surprised and excited by an image on an iphone as I can by a black and white landscape created on medium format. To me it is about the user and not the equipment.
Different styles and types of photography can produce stunning end results; but the images that stand above the rest are the ones created by people with thought, planning, accurate execution and often 'pushing the norm'."His advice for anyone looking to impress? "Try not to second guess what the judges like. Believe in yourself and your ability."
As soon as Javi Muñoz finished his university degree, he plunged headfirst into surf photography. After meeting Sergio Villalba from the Canary Islands, the pair followed their dream and founded We photo agency two years ago.
Red Bull Illume is the perfect fit for the photographer: “Action sports photography is pretty much my life, and I feel so lucky to be able to work in such beautiful playground like the sea,” says Muñoz.
A great composition doesn’t always guarantee a good shot for the Spaniard. ”Light is essential. You can have the best frame or capture the best moment, but if the light is not good that photo is ruined. So, I think choosing the right time and angle to shoot is pretty key to have a great photo.”
The photographer is driven by photography: “I love lifestyle photography. When I travel somewhere to take surf photos I like to stay a day or two to document the place, the people and capture those extra sensations,” he says.
What kind of shots will impress Muñoz in the Red Bull Illume submissions?
“Personally I love to see action combined with landscape, so my advice is to send something pulled back. Close enough to see the action, but far enough to appreciate the atmosphere of the place!”
Caren Firouz was covering a news event in Tehran when he was approached by a Reuters cameraman asking if he had any interest working with a wire service. After starting as a stringer, Firouz is now chief photographer for Iran coverage and assists on stories throughout the Middle East.
Wire service photographers are expected to produce good pictures and transmit them right away under any circumstances: “Not only must the pictures be good but the selection should cater to the needs of the conservative client as well as the more off the wall,” says the photographer.
Photojournalism is never dull, says Firouz: “It is rare that you get bored with your job because it changes from day to day. There are different types of people from presidents to the homeless whose stories you tell. The action of war or sport to the monotony of waiting for a press conference to start… Not many other professions give that diverse an environment.”
The photographer enjoys covering sporting events: “The two sports which I enjoy photographing are equestrian events and Formula 1,” says Firouz. Photography must make an impact: “A great image is an image that stuns and holds the viewers attention.”
Firouz predicts the internet will change the way events are covered: “I see the future leaning toward multimedia coverage of events. Where technology will take us will be interesting because I see smaller teams providing packages with text, pictures, video and graphics from the field to satisfy the needs of the internet,” he says.
The Red Bull Illume judge offers some advice for those looking to shoot the winner:
“Stunning colors, heart stopping action and luck but don’t change your style to try to impress others!”
Christian is an editor at Fri Flyt AS – a Norwegain publishing house pulling the strings of 6 different international magazines and websites within the action sports and outdoor realm.
He started out as an athlete, competing in free-skiiing before getting involved with watersports like windsurfing and kiting. Because of his sporting background, Christian soon became curious about the power of photography and story telling. After freelancing as a writer and photographer for numerous sports and lifestyle magazines, he was hired as the editor of action sports magazine Ultrasport. Soon after, he found himself working as the online editor for competing magazine Fri Flyt – an important institution for action sports in Norway established in 1999.
In his own words, Christian’s love for action and adventure sports photography comes from a fascination with how “you can combine nature with human athleticism in many possible ways. I like it when a photographer manages to capture a unique moment of nature or an expression in a face.” As for advice about what impresses him most when judging images, Christian says, “keep it real, yet unique and maybe a little mind twisting. Make me stop for a reason.”
Asked whether he thinks contest like Red Bull Illume are important to the photography scene, he cited “I think a photographer gets better at what he/she does just by entering and picking out their contending pictures. They also inspire people and other photographers of course.”
Image credit:©Frode Sandbech
Editor-in-chief Sérgio Branco has been in journalism for 32 years, working at Fotografe Melhor magazine for the last 12 years. The publication is considered the most relevant photo magazine in South America. The experienced journalist is also a photographer, and began when he was 17 years old.
For Branco, what makes a great photograph changes according to the field: “It is complex. In photo journalism, it can be Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment. In nature, it can be the result of years of waiting. In fashion, it can be a special light or an unprecedented location. There are lots of great photos made in many different ways. For all, what makes them great is to be admired all over the world,” says the experienced editor.
Modern technology is resulting in a blurring of the lines between moving and still photography: “Photo, video and movie language are moving closer day by day with the arrival of HDSLR cameras. In the near future, there will be a creative mix of still and moving images,” says Branco.
In order to impress Branco, photographers will need to reveal an understanding:
“Knowledge about the subject needs to be shown. Creativity and attention is needed in order to capture the decisive moment. Without these attributes, there is no way to produce great pics in action sports,” reveals Branco.
José Pequeno dos Anjos Neto graduated in Graphic Arts and started to read newspapers and magazines at a very early age. Interested in arts in general and having a strong connection with photography, he started his career in print media and very soon directed his energy towards magazines.
In his long career with roles at a number of prestigious publications, José is currently the creative director at GQ Brazil.
Photography is important for him: “GQ is a male magazine focused in fashion and lifestyle, dedicated to a high level consumer. And good images are important tools; as they are part of the magazine DNA,” says José. The creative director is in constant contact with photographers and is always exchanging ideas to ensure everything happens in the best way possible.
According to José Pequeno dos Anjos Neto, photography is in a very exciting era: “The high-res cameras have begun a revolution in terms of how you capture, cut and see images. We are in an evolutionary process where everything is running faster and faster, in a very creative way. We are in a new image era, where everything is and will be possible.”
The creative director is passionate about portrait, photo journalism and fashion photography, and urges photographers to combine imagination and creativity. The Red Bull Illume judge is particularly impressed by images that possess a few vital characteristics: “Elegance, simplicity, graphics and drama!”
Myles McCutcheon has been involved in photo editing since 2000 when he was an assistant photo editor at the weekly magazine Saturday Night. Since then he has worked at Toro as photo editor as well as a producer for numerous shooters. Two years ago the idea for a new national biweekly sports magazine was pitched to the TV Network Sportsnet. Since then they have been ‘gang- busters’ – having a lot of fun and putting out some pretty great work.
The photo editor is emphatic about choosing the right photographs for Sporstnet Magazine: “Photography plays a HUGE role in the success of our magazine. Sports, regardless of type, is fuelled by emotion, action and moments. The still image has the power to stop a reader on a page. It should draw them further into to the story. Great photography is essential for our success,” he says.
McCutcheon looks for certain technical and visual elements in a photograph: “Idea, execution, emotion, lighting... One can also never understimate the power of the moment,“ says the photo editor. “I am also a sucker for great environmental portraits. Honest photography that tells a story – whether in a single frame or as a group – also makes me smile. “
Does McCutcheon take his own photos? “I leave the taking of the pics to the real pros. I do have a huge interest in action sports photography – particularly winter sports and climbing. I have been known to go blank in a daydream while staring at some epic shots that have been submitted to me before. I love those moments!” says McCutcheon.
Ralf Zimmermann studied photography at the Bayrische Staatslehranstalt für Photographie in Munich. Later, while working as a photographer Zimmermann became very interested in the work of others, so he became a photo editor, first at Quest Magazine in Berlin and then for SZ Magazin in Munich.
SZ-Magazin is the weekly supplement of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s biggest daily newspaper: “It’s edgy and intellectual, and the magazine tends to cover stories that are unusual in the German media landscape. It has won several international awards for extraordinary visuals and layouts each year. Good photography is essential for us,” says Zimmermann.
The photo editor needs to be engaged by a photograph – regardless of the subject: “A great photo provokes a strong emotional reaction in the viewer. I am passionate about photography that tells us something about the human condition. This can be in any style.”
According to Zimmermann, the volume of modern photography has taken on a new meaning: “Every two minutes mankind shoots the same amount of images that were taken in the whole 19th century. Photography tends to become a form of direct communication,” he says.
He also identifies a movement back to the roots: “I also see a trend back to traditional analog photography and the desire to bring back some magic to the process,” says Zimmermann.
Daisuke Nogami participated in many competitions as an amateur snowboarder but retired due to injuries and joined a publishing firm. While working on a snowboarding magazine, his focus was on renewing the brand image and the article layout. After being headhunted, Nogami became the editor a year and a half later, and was promoted as the chief editor six months later.
For TransWorld SNOWboarding, good visuals are important: “Good photography is expected on every page. We also introduce snowboarders in different situations – in addition to action shots, we select culture and lifestyle shots, as well as fun shots in order to have a good balance,” says Nogami.
According to Nogami, the best shots are the ones worth fighting for: “From my experience, all great photos have an interesting story – from difficult access to the location and rough conditions while trying to find the best timing for shooting and so on,” he says.
The editor-in-chief also offers some advice to action sports photographers: “In order to take a great photo, is not just about the photography – it is essential to have a partnership with a great rider,” he says.
Nogami believes that still photography offers more than moving images: “Photography portrays the “moment” that movies can’t express. Photographs have high value while movie content is overflowing on the internet and smartphones nowadays. Photographs provide an opportunity for excitement – the viewer can imagine the action flow of the piece, and the image can express emotional feelings of the photographer and the subject,” he says.
Wellingtonian David Read is an anomaly – somewhere between AV club nerd and bogan. He’s a self-disciplined perfectionist who prefers the company of Upper Hutt metal refugees to Welliwood glitterati, although his chameleonic charm ensures he can tete-a-tete happily with either. Fifteen years ago David helped give birth to New Zealand’s leading skateboarding and snowboarding magazine, Manual.
The mag features national and international coverage of skateboarding, snowboarding, music and art, with an emphasis on quality photography, illustration and graphic design: “Original and inspiring photography is the backbone of what we do with Manual. It’s integral that the imagery is created by people with a passion and complete understanding of their subject, whether it’s skateboarding, snowboarding or music,” says Read.
Read looks to be transported by photographs: “A great photo draws you in, wows you and gives you a sense of being in the place and sensing the thrill that the athlete or artist is feeling themselves,” he says.
The Kiwi creative offers some advice to new photographers looking to get creative: “Utilising inventive techniques and new equipment to capture a moment or convey a strong idea is great, as long as the gear doesn’t become more important than the idea (or the final image) itself,” he says. When impressing the Red Bull Illume judges, it’s all about belief: “You are sure to impress if you have conviction in your ideas and your craft,” says Read.
For the last five years, Anna Merenova has been working for Maxim magazine. With experience at top publications like FHM and Madame Figaro, the Russian photo editor knows how to pick the freshest and most interesting images in order to intrigue readers. Maxim is an international's men's magazine, and the visual content needs to be appealing to keep their demanding target market happy!
It is clear the Red Bull Illume judge has a weakness for an image that invokes feeling, and photographers would do well to submit a shot that speaks to the heart. According to Merenova, a great photo stirs up emotion in the viewer 'even if it's for only a second': "It is not important what the subject is – the photograph needs to contain an element that causes a human reaction," she says.
The photo editor is happy to be involved in Red Bull Illume: "Sports photography inspires millions of people on the planet, and it's so positive and uplifting. I particulary enjoy snowboading and longboarding shots!" says Merenova.
Merenova offers some excellent advice for young photographers looking to get into shooting action sports: "Be as fearless as the athletes you shoot! Love your work as much as they do!" she says. The Red Bull Illume judge is looking forward to seeing all the exciting photographs when submissions close.
Once upon a time, Marc Gafen wore a suit and tie every day and worked in IT Risk Management while the partners and the managers at the firm tried desperately to train him to think along the lines of "yes sir, no sir, three bags full."
Thankfully they failed. And after only a handful of years in the corporate world, Marc decided to take a significant change in direction. In late 2000, he left the corporate world to join the photographic fraternity. While assisting some of Australia's most respected advertising photographers, he also began his writing career. He became a regular contributor to Capture magazine in 2003 and in July 2007, Marc was appointed to the position of editor. The publication is highly regarded among both working professionals and emerging photographers as a valuable business resource designed to help them better run their own businesses. Audited figures for the magazine just 18 months after his appointment showed a 26% increase in net paid sales making the title the fastest growing in Australia at the time.
During all this time, Marc continues to focus on and grow his photography business. Having dabbled with corporate work, portraiture and the odd wedding, including two commissions to the Greek Islands, he is best known for his unique brand of on-location dog portraiture and trades as The PhodographerR.
After studying marketing and with experience in the newspaper industry in Switzerland, Christian Bugnon started a travel magazines called Newland in 1996. Later he founded sports magazines, such as Skippers (sailing magazine), Mountain Report magazine (High mountain magazine) and then 30 degrés, a sport and lifestyle magazine.
The publisher fully understands the value of photography: “More than 60% of the magazine content is about great pictures. I strongly believe that photography is the soul of the magazine,” says Bugnon.
Bugnon will be a fan of the Playground category: “I am always impressed about the integration of the sport in its specific location (such as the sea or in the mountains). The photo should perfectly reflect a location or a moment. It should fill the viewer with emotion,” he says.
As a photography enthusiast, Bugnon is pleased to be involved in Red Bull Illume: “I think that it’s a great international photography competition that gathers the best sport photographers!”
Evgeny Tchebotarev is the founder and CPO of 500px, a wildly-popular photo community and photography marketplace based in Canada and the USA. With offices in Toronto, New York and San Francisco, 500px focuses on discovering, sharing, buying and selling inspirational photography, powered by creative people from around the globe.
It’s his passion for images that led Evgeny to start the company as a hobby in 2004. “I was trying to connect the best photographers, and reward and enable visual creativity,” he says. The business soon outgrew his wildest expectations. Now in its 11th year, 500px has a huge online photo community of 6 million people worldwide. The company also publishes its own online magazine – 500px ISO – reaching 1 million readers monthly.
As someone who’s seen his fair share of quality shots, Evgeny understand the value of great photography, “500px is built on our community and great photography is critical to the success of our clients, who license the photos. It’s also important for our tens of millions of viewers, who enjoy the photos on their smartwatches, TVs, smartphones, and computers.”
Asked about the value of mobile photography in the digital era, he’s enthused by the possibilities, saying, “I think mobile photography has definitely levelled the playing field, allowing hundreds of millions of people get into photography and test the limits of their creativity. It’s great for the world!” He feels the same about the role of social media, “For better or worse, we are living in a connected age, so you see things in near-real-time, and it helps you feel more immersed.”
As a Red Bull Illume judge, Evgeny will look for more than just striking technical and visual elements in a photograph, “I think the most important thing about the photo is how it makes you feel. If you have a strong emotion due to the image, it’s great — it captures and conveys the message well. Some photos are technically perfect but soulless, and I’m looking for photos that convey soul. I don’t look for sharpness or perfect lighting, but I like to see photos that make my heart sink to my feet!”
In 1994 Laurent Belluard started Grimper, the world’s first magazine exclusively dedicated to mountain climbing. Soon after, Editions Nivéales was formed. The following year, using Snowsurf as a model, Belluard participated in the launch of Skieur Magazine as its editor-in-chief. The magazine was also ahead of its time since only Powder covered off-piste skiing. Then, based on the Skieur concept, Big Bike was brought out for downhill mountain biking. For the past three years, Belluard has been in charge of all Nivéales mountaineering and snow sports publications, while continuing to work as editor-in-chief of Skieur, which keeps him involved in the operational side of the business.
Belluard’s publications rely on the functional side of photography: “We’re mainly interested in photos, but for the stories they tell or their newsworthiness. Most importantly, photos must serve a purpose, which means that our readers must find them useful,” he says: “Magazines have little use for artsy photos unless the readers find them useful. You may find this surprising but it is a fact that too many press publishers overlook. It’s very nice to have extremely high quality pictures, but it never sells any copies. Photographs must be useful, which does not mean they can’t also be creative, startling and beautiful,” adds Belluard.
Laurent Belluard has a history of pioneering in sports photography: “With Skieur, we invented a way to photograph freeride skiing at a time when no one in Europe was doing it. Similarly, we recently changed the manner in which alpine skiing is shot at World Cup races, with Skier Racing and photographers such as Stef Candé, Dom Daher or Jérémy Bernard. I love to break conventions, whilst sticking to the rules I mentioned earlier!”
In order to impress Belluard, hopeful Red Bull Illume photographers will do well to capture the human element in a shot: “Create an emotion. Don’t show how hard it was to make the shot or what technical resources were used, just the resulting emotion,” he advises.
Belluard is a fan of Red Bull Illume: “It’s a super opportunity for everyone. It creates a unique venue for photographers to show their work and for others to find out what’s currently being done.”
After a year of world travel, Rudi Übelhör began work at the picture desks of different Austrian daily newspapers. This included working at a football magazine called GOAL in Vienna, creating a partnership with Swiss Publisher Ringier as well as having a short stop at Vanity Fair in Berlin. Übelhör moved back to Vienna to work at “NEWS”, the biggest Austrian news magazine. Two years later he moved to the Red Bulletin, where he’s been working at since.
As a photo editor, Übelhör understands the value of photography: “The Red Bulletin covers mainly action stories, portraits, arts and music. It’s a very visual magazine so I guess the photography is probly the most important thing for us.”
You’ll need to make an immediate impression on him: “A photo has to catch me on the first view. The combination of light, subject and composition makes the difference between a great photo and just a normal image,” says Übelhör. But go easy on the HDR: “I like classic photography, less is sometimes more, and I don’t like obvious HDR photography and fisheye lenses. I personally prefer analog photography,” he adds.
Rudi Übelhör knows a picture is worth a thousand words: “The experience of a sport is hard to explain in words – for example, imagine trying to explain wind surfing to someone. Outstanding action sports photography is able to immediately communicate this experience to the viewer,“ he says.
The photo editor is thrilled to participate in Red Bull Illume as a judge: “It’s a great opportunity to show the exceptional work of a great community. It brings people together and honors the best of them,” he says.
Any tips for a photographer looking to impress Übelhör in the competition? “Do what you love to do, you will be the best in what you love most. Don’t try to be Terry Richardson, be yourself!” he advises.
Gina Batlle started interning at Complex in 2009 and moved up from there. She became the Photo Editor in December of 2011, and spends her days going through photographer’s portfolio’s and arranging shoots, or ‘the whole nine’ as she puts it.
Complex Media is a men’s lifestyle magazine and media network, and photography naturally plays an important role: “Good photography is essential to what we do because the images need to illustrate the stories we are telling. Our images inform and engage our reader on any given subject, so it is important that they be compelling,” says Batlle.
According to the Photo Editor, one of the most important aspects is the photographer’s message: “A photograph should have a point of view. You have to consider the subject, but it is also important to stay true to what you are trying to say. Without a point of view an image doesn’t really have value,” she says.
For any photographers looking to impress Batlle, they will need to take a few risks: “Be original, take chances. Don’t be afraid to be different!” advises Batlle.
Jacques Deydier was hired as a photo editor by the sports daily L’Equipe in 1983. In 1988 he was put in charge of the photo desk and in 1994 became production manager at the photo department. Deydier was appointed head of the photo department (production, photo editing, photo desk and agency) in 1998.
Deydier explains the importance of photography: “We cover the general news in sports and work for all L’Equipe Group publications (L’Equipe, Le Magazine, France Football and Vélo). It is therefore essential for us to have photos that illustrate the news and highlights of a sports event. We must also have complete sets of photos from an event to satisfy the needs of all of our publications,” he says.
The Frenchman is impressed by storytelling: “A good photo is newsworthy and has aesthetic value. It must show a competition’s key moment from an original angle. I’m partial to action shots but also appreciate portraits that probe deeply into their subjects,“ he says.
The head of the photo department thinks photographers will return to a more photojournalistic approach: “I believe that we’re going to return to wider-angle photos. For the past few years we have favored tight shots, sometimes excessively so and they fail to show the context of the event.”
Deydier is happy to join the panel of Red Bull Illume judges: “The images are of a very high technical and aesthetic quality!” he says.
Adam Taylor knows that a typical day working for a newspaper can be a challenge – he is always ready to switch from one style to another and do it several times a day with no notice or time to prepare for a shoot. Whether it’s court jobs, protests, bushfires, two minute portrait shoots with celebrities who do not always want to play ball or 80 minutes of running the sideline at a game of football, Taylor needs to stay ahead of the play to get the picture.
The deputy picture editor has a wide variety of experience: “I'm passionate about anything that makes a stunning photo although I do like telling stories through a series of pictures. I've been lucky enough to cover stories like Daniel Geale's title fight against Anthony Mundine, where I had complete backroom access to Geale's pre-fight preparations. I also covered stories like the last Australian troops being withdrawn from East Timor and countless other assignments!” says Taylor.
Getting the perfect shot is difficult, according to Taylor: “A great photo consists of many things, it's about capturing the moment you are trying to show obviously, but doing it in a way that balances the quality of the light with a background that does not distract from the image while making an emotional connection with your audience,” he says.
Taylor is thrilled to be involved in this year’s Image Quest: “Red Bull Illume is a fantastic competition which I am very proud to be part of and you only need to have a look at the images from the previous competitions to understand why it is one of the best in the industry,” says the deputy picture editor.
Back in the late 90's, Takara Mak enjoyed sourcing all types of books and magazines but couldn't find any locally, so he decided to start his own magazine with a couple of friends. They cast their nets pretty wide, covering ‘everything but politics’.
Naturally, photography is important to him: “Photography plays a big part in my life as well as in my work, but it doesn't matter to me if it's good or bad. It just has to be interesting. In my opinion, if you like one, then it's a great one. It's all about how you see it in your eye.“ says Mak.
Similarly, the publisher is not a fan of any particular style: “I believe a photo holds it own merit, no matter what 'style' it is in. I just appreciate beautiful things. I always prefer something soft and natural.“
“I think it's great to see so much talent in one place at one time. It shows how much talent there is worldwide and how innovative people can be simply using a camera, that anybody can buy. It's a great form of expression and Red Bull Illume is a showcase of this,” says Mak.
Eva María Tomé has over 17 years experiences in three major areas of the photography industry – production, distribution and researching. Eva has the demanding task of sorting through awesome shots for El Pais’ weekly traveller magazine El Viajero.
She became interested in photography at the age of 5, when she started cutting out pictures she liked from magazines and newspapers. She went on to work for those newspapers and later moved to the editing table, where she spent 10 years as a photo editor. Two years ago Eva started working for El Viajero – a wildly popular travel mag.
The importance of good photography is a crucial part of her job, with light playing an important role, she says, “the work with the light is the most important thing, because it can make a great image or destroy all the work done.”
Eva claims to be fascinated by behind-the-scenes photography as well as close-up sports photography, saying, “I love extreme close pictures – photos in which you capture the person's face from the chin to the end of the head. The proximity and closeness are just amazing.”
For someone with tons of experience with more more traditional sport photography, how does she feel about mobile photography? “Obviously, the speed and ability to capture images with a mobile tool explains that the use has multiplied. There are great photographs shot and edited on a mobile. Why not? I meet many photographers who use this tool to create a story board.”
Asked what makes a great Red Bull Illume photo, Eva replied, “I prefer pictures with saturated colors and the sports shots. I am sure that a lot of pictures from Red Bull Illume will leave me impressed.”
Rudolf Stáhlich started his professional and editorial career as one of the founders of Reflex, the biggest social magazine in the Czech Republic in 1990. In the years that followed, he was involved in the rise of more than 60 publishing and web projects mainly focused on people, culture and photography. One of these projects was the rebranding and redesign of photography magazine Advanced. The publication was renamed to FotoVideo and quickly established itself as the top selling monthly photo magazine in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“The magazine focuses on the most modern digital techniques and the best of Czech and international photography,” Rudolph says. “It’s aimed at people who love photography and appreciate the beauty of a great picture as well as those who are interested in new technologies and who follow the fields of photography, video and imaging.”
Asked about the importance of quality photography to his work, Rudolph is resolute: “My magazine cannot exist on low quality images. There is a historical tradition of quality in Czech and Slovak photography, with photographers like Josef Sudek, Jan Saudek, Josef Koudelka, Antonín Kratochvil, Dan Vojtech and many more.”
Even though he’s been in the industry for more than two decades, Rudolph understands the importance of social media in the photography scene: “As a photo magazine, you cannot survive without social media. A large part of our readership is active on social media platforms. The rise of the medium has also helped us find many new photo talents.”
Rudolph’s advice to entrants is simple: “Live, think and be one with photography. Remember, a picture without a story isn´t a photo – the idea needs to be visible.”
Working as a photo editor since 2008, Rudi Übelhör has been involved in several daily and weekly publications in both Austria and Germany throughout the years. He’s been in the photography biz for more than eighteen years and learned a lot during his time working as an assistant for various photographers.
He’s currently the Deputy Photo Editor of Red Bulletin – the active men’s lifestyle magazine covering athletes, celebrities and feature stories around the world of Red Bull. The magazine is published in twelve countries around the globe with a huge focus on striking images. Rudi works with some of the best photograpers in the world and believes that great photography is crucial to his publication, saying: “We give a lot of space to the photos in the magazine. Visual story telling is a big topic, I think it’s very important! A great photo works immediately, but keeps you looking. Good photography is fascinating, it tells a story.”
Working for a massive action and adventure sports publication, Rudi simply loves the genre: “Action photography includes so many things. Locations, timing, people. Surf photography is a very good example for bringing the best ingredients together and crown them with a lot of luck and passion to create something that is unrepeatable and unique.”
Natural images are likely to impress Rudi in 2016: “I like it real. I’m not a big fan of overdone colorgrading and lots of post production. I don’t think that’s something a good picture needs.”
His advice to up-and-coming-photographers? “Following your personal interest and finding a niche is key. The best climbing photographers in the world are better climbers than the talents they shoot. Professional photographers spend a lot of time on their passion, so it’s also smart to share experiences with people and things you are interested in. Being in a community makes networking much easier – and that’s sometimes a bigger job than pulling the trigger.”
Caren Firouz was busy covering a news event in Tehran when he was approached by a Reuters cameraman asking if he had any interest working with a wire service. After starting as a stringer, Caren moved to Iran and more recently, Pakistan and is now the Chief Photographer for Pakistan.
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, operating in at least 200 cities in 94 countries with 2,700 journalists, supplying news text in about 20 languages. Photographers for the Reuters Picture Service cover everything from breaking news to sports, fashion or daily life. As Caren says, “It all depends on the day and where you are at the time.”
Caren says that good photography is an essential part of the work he does, saying: “I spend more time editing other photographers’ work these days and without good pictures my hands are tied. A good photo will catch the viewer’s eye and make them feel emotion. A striking disaster photo will provide just as much emotion as a beautiful sports image; it will just strike a different chord.”
He has photographed many sporting events during his time with Reuters and understands how difficult it is to capture good sports images. He suggests that social media plays a crucial role in a modern photographer’s life, “We are experiencing the start of the next big thing in photography. A great picture in your camera is only great for you, but with tools like social media and increased internet access everybody is now able to show their images to the world. It is no longer limited to the pros. “
Asked what it would take to impress him during Red Bull Illume 2016, Caren said simply, “I would like to see images that make you want to keep looking at them. Stunning colors with action and emotion.”
Editor-in-chief of Polish magazine Foto-Kurier, Krzysztof Patrycy’s journey into photography started when his father gave him his first camera, a Smena 6 – made in the Soviet Union – when he was a child. He’s been taking photos with a variety of cameras ever since. In 1991, while still a student, he co-founded Foto-Kurier, which is now the longest running photography magazine in Poland. He started as editor-in–chief and remains so today.
Being a judge for photography contests isn’t new to him. Along with playing this role often, he has written many of articles about different fields of photography for Foto-Kurier as well as for other magazines such as Amateur Photographer, Focus, National Geographic Traveller, and Voyage. In his travels to 48 countries, he’s taken photos from different points of view, ranging from underwater, in the mountains and from the sky.
“Good photography is like the very essence of my work,” he says. “For a photo to be great it must have soul, must tell us the story not only about main subject but also about the area around the subject. It must show us the atmosphere present at the moment when the picture was taken.”
He has no particular favorite style of photography, only pictures that are good. The general high quality of action and adventure sport photography impresses him. He enjoys the intensity of emotion captured in these sports. Red Bull Illume brings this emotion to the public, he says, and shows them amazing action and places from around the world.
For “serious photography”, he says “serious cameras” are still required, but he appreciates how the rise of mobile photography is helping people to capture incredible moments. Social media is allowing instantaneous sharing of images, but because many social media users are not discerning when it comes to good photography, competitions like Red Bull Illume are important to distill the very best for the public to see.
As a judge, he will be looking for fantastic moments in time that reveal emotion in the faces of the athletes they capture.
Naima Mancini has worked as a photo editor at La Gazzetta dello Sport, an Italian weekly sports title, for the last nine years. Naima and her colleagues try to show their readers unexpected sides of sports people and events, sides they don’t usually see, such as their social life and extraordinary situations. “We always publish some double pages with best pictures of the week,” she says. “We also do reportages from all over the world and cover extreme sport stories.”
Naima studied visual arts at the University of Milan and was instinctively drawn to photography as a pursuit. She first worked with photo agencies and then moved into editorial where she began co-ordinating photojournalists and editing their projects. In 2006, she joined SportWeek magazine and worked with respected Italian picture editor Giovanna Calvenzi until 2011.
Naima is passionate about photo-journalism and visual storytelling which is why as a member of Grin, the Italian photo editors association, she works to promote them at international photography festivals, fairs and exhibitions, portfolio lectures and through contests.
She’s fascinated by action and adventure photography because it highlights the relationship between man and nature and the ability to surpass human limitations. Good photography is crucial to La Gazzetta dello Sport and can be defined by the relationship it creates with its viewers. “It could be an emotion, but not only that, it could bring up questions and offer answers around that photograph.”
She’s excited about the new mobile photography category in this edition of Red Bull Illume because mobile photography has been “a real revolution, opening many possibilities in the future”. Social media, she says, has also been a game changer. “Now everyone is photographer and photography is a language that people use as an alternative to writing,” she says. Her tip to photographers looking to impress her in the competition? “Be faithful to reality.”
Publisher, owner and president of Identity Media, Petros Bourovilis has been in the media business for 30 years. Identity Media, now three years old, publishes men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines, such as Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines, and many other titles, in Greece.
Petros began his journey into action adventure sports when he took up windsurfing during military service just after graduating from university with a chemical engineering degree. It was 1983 and he and his friends were beach bums windsurfing the Greek waters of Schinias, Rafina and later Paros and Mykonos. “The epiphany came: ‘why not knock together a magazine about surf and ski and photo-shoot and write our own stories, to share our experiences with a bigger audience’?” he says. “So we did and that’s how I got involved with the media business and I’ve stayed with it ever since.”
Long fascinated by action adventure photography, Petros says like all good photography it’s about telling a story. But after that it’s a different ballgame.
“By its nature adventure sport photography is more gripping since it involves some of the most remote and challenging places on earth, more demanding because it’s all about reacting and timing and more laborious because it requires the artist to be familiar with the sport so he or she is able to capture the moment,” he says
As a publisher and editor-in-chief of multiple titles, Petros believes the choice of photography can make or break a publication. As an editor, he values the written word, but says when it comes to magazines they can be successful without the need for words. “More often than not pictures can do more to tell a story than words and more often than not we have featured stories or given them greater prominence purely on the basis of a great picture,” he says. “If it catches our eye, it catches the reader’s eye.”
So what makes a great photo? He says one that helps people to not only see, but to feel. And this depends on having a strong underlying composition.
“In photographic art, it's rarely or never about the subject; it’s always about the underlying structure,” Petros says. “Subjects should be chosen because they support or create a structure, not vice versa. A great photo must have a strong enough structure so the latter is obvious to the subconscious. That's how you grab people to get the OMGs.”
When it comes to Red Bull Illume, Petros is a huge supporter because it shines a spotlight on the whole genre, rather than individual sports, and gives recognition to the men and women behind the camera who share with the world the amazing and inspiring moments they capture. “It’s great for the genre, promoting as well pushing the creative style limits,” he says.
His advice to up and coming photographers is to have devotion and constant attention to detail. “Quality is nothing more than constant attention. It’s always the result of great attention and focus, sincere effort, clever orchestration and skilled execution.“
Editor-in-chief of the most widely read photography magazine in Sweden, Kamera & Bild, Calle Rosenqvist is fascinated by action and adventure photography because of the intense energy it captures. “It is amazing to see what it takes to get one picture – a lot of coordination, planning and sportsmen doing the impossible.”
After studying engineering, he decided he wanted to have a more creative career and work with creative people so he studied photojournalism and then worked as a photographer, photojournalist, editor and designer for some of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. Eventually he found his way to Kamera & Bild where he started as a technology journalist, testing cameras and writing reviews, and a year later became editor-in-chief. “Our aim is to make our readers better photographers through in depth interviews with many undiscovered and upcoming photographers all around the country, but also established ones, who have worked as photographers for a long time.”
Good photography, Calle says, is easy to confuse with photos that have benefitted from “good technical skills”. But the two aren’t the same, and it’s important to distinguish between them. “A good photo has a meaning, something deeper to tell, rather than just being perfectly structured pixels,” he says. “For me, a great photo is a moment in time that can broaden the timeline to tell a story – what happened before? What will happen after? Even better is if the feelings to explain the situation can be transferred to the beholder, so the story can be felt, too. In that way, a photo will grow with time, and get a broader meaning the more we look at it.”
Red Bull Illume, he says, pushes the boundaries of action and adventure photography, inspiring new ideas, new methods and new ways to get different results. “Finding your own way of expressing yourself, without doing the same as everyone else,” is his advice to upcoming photographers. “You have to continue to do what you believe in, and what drives you. “It’s cliché to say “be unique” but if you twist around your first idea for a couple of rounds, I’m sure you can find something one of a kind that also has your personal twist.”
Image credit: ©Gordon Andersson
Passion, hard work and dedication are what drive Leon Arhire in his work as owner and manager of MTR Press in Romania, which produces Luxury Magazine and Photo Magazine, among others. “We cover all kind of stories, ranging from environment, social issues, war, animals to sports,” he says. “We try to cover all the interesting stories that bring emotion and understanding to our readers.”
Leon has always loved to capture moments in time, whether action and adventure sports, nature or people. Travelling is his passion and wherever he goes he always has a camera in hand. “I am a very active person, have been involved in snowboarding, motorcycling and other adventure sports, so it it’s natural for me to try to capture these amazing moments.”
For Leon, good photography is of immense importance because no amount of writing can have the same impact as a powerful image can. A great photo is one that uses light well and makes its viewers feel intense emotion. His favorite styles of photography are street, people and nature.
He is a big supporter of Red Bull Illume because no other contest does as much to promote action and adventure sports photography. “And also because we need more inspiration for the young generation,” he says.
Mobile photography has brought accessibility and diversity to photography so it now “belongs to the world”. Because of social media, photography, he says, is now “a language understood by everyone”.
His one, simple tip to photographers looking to impress in Red Bull Illume 2016? “To bring emotion to their images.”
As senior editor for publishing house Grupo Expansión in Mexico, José Luis Castillo decides what images make the cut for 17 magazines and websites, plus a number of books. A photographer for quarter of a century, he began working as a photo editor 10 years ago for Chilango, a prominent magazine in Mexico. Since then he’s worked in this role for titles such as Travel + Leisure, InStyle, Elle, Aire, Accent, Quién, Life & Style. He also continues to work as a photographer, taking care of Grupo Expansión’s photo studio and sometimes shooting for cover page images and portraits of VIP people. “My main mission at the company is ensuring a high quality of the images we publish,” he says. “I always push my people to improve the photography on each session.”
A great photo for José has the best possible lighting, excellent composition and captures a special moment. This could be a facial expression for a portrait, the best angle for food photography or the pracise moment in an action shot. The key ingredient is passion. “A good photo reveals the passion of the photographer. When there’s no passion, the image reflects it.”
While portraiture and travel photography are his thing, he has huge respect for action and adventure sport photographers. Their sense of timing, he says, must be perfect.
“I deeply admire their sixth sense to smell the action before it happens. The eye must be amazingly fast and the photographer must have great control of the light and the skills to capture the precise moment of the action.” For him, Red Bull Illume represents some of the best documentary photography around.
Advancements in camera technology and in post production methods impress him, but he would like to see photography return to its basics: simplicity, great composition, deep and shocking expressions in portraits, beautiful light and “stories that tell us who were are as generation on this planet”.
Impressing him as a Red Bull Illume judge, as a result, will be no easy task. “Be totally passionate and look for the impossible image,” he advises. Look for the best angle, the one that nobody would expect to see; the best light, and of course, take total control of your composition. If you don’t like it, erase it and try again. Always force youself to get memorable images.”
Good photography is absolutely everything to Krishna Madhavan Pillai, who says he is “passionately, inexorably, crazily drawn to the making of an image.” He’s chief editor of India’s 19-year-old Better Photography magazine. “Photography began for me as it did with most other people – half a dream, a feeling for what was in the frame, some idealistic fervor, lots of work and missteps, and plenty of helping hands and mentors along the way.”
Better Photography, a member of TIPA (Technical Image Press Association), reviews gear, interviews photographers from around the world, publishes articles about the legends, and introduces its readers to different forms of photography. The magazine includes a section dedicated to mobile phone photography and, as an advocate of the fast emerging field, Krishna says he’s happy to see it included in Red Bull Illume 2016.
“For sports lovers, it changes the way sports photography is seen, perceived and consumed. It lets a new breed of imagemakers actively participate in the process of recording and sharing moments.” Likewise, he says, social media has expanded the reach of photorgaphers from what it was even five years ago.
What makes a great photo, Krishna says, is hard to pin down to one or two things. Rather, it’s a combination of many factors from capturing a fleeting moment, communicating meaning and intent, to the impact value, a sense of space or place, movement, and how it guides the eye. “Sometimes all that matters is a subtle expression, a flicker in the eye of the subject, or a powerful emotion.” Portraiture and streetphotography are Krishna’s favorite genre’s, but the “incredibly fluid, fleeting and momentary nature” of action and adventure sport photography also fascinates him.
Red Bull Illume gives credit where credit is due, Krishna says, which is important because platforms to recognize action and adventure sport photography was “always lacking”. “Action sports photographers go to great lengths to get the perfect photo, sometimes putting life and limb on the line. Red Bull Illume offers them the recognition they deserve. What is truly appreciable is that Red Bull Illume exhibits winning and nominated photographs around the world, putting photographers on a pedestal, and, in effect, building their careers.”
His advice to upcoming action and adventure sport photographers? “Know the sport, the lay of the land, and the athletes. It will allow you to get to the right places at the right time, predict outcomes and make better pictures. Get lots of feedback, and in the process, make new friends. And of course, participate in Red Bull Illume.”
The photos that remain in the viewer’s mind, says c't Digitale Fotografie editor-in-chief Jürgen Rink, are the ones that don't reveal their secret at first glance. These are his favorite images and it’s this, along with emotion and storytelling, that will impress him as a Red Bull Illume judge.
Jürgen came to photography after starting an academic career in physics. He worked for a publishing house where he received on-the-job journalism training eventually leading him to develop new magazines, including c't Fotografie. The six-year-old magazine covers all aspects of photography, highlights the portfolios of promising photographers and provides its readers with robust gear reviews. It also publishes unique and indepth feature articles that run from 12 to 20 pages long. Jürgen is fascinated by action and adventure sport photography because of the combination of skills it demands.
“You have to be fast, you have to master your gear and you have to be lucky. Sure, sometimes you get a lucky shot, but usually you need a lot of experience to master this combination.”
He’s excited by a range of new photography disciplines, not only mobile phone. Copter, drone and action cam also interest him. However, he’s less enthusiastic about the impact of social media on photography. “This generation has to learn how to look at photographs for longer than a millisecond. We have to teach them how to look. If not, photography will lose part of the impact on society.”
His tips to upcoming photographers? “Don't make the mistake of thinking people will follow you because of your photos,” he cautions. “Build a brand, play the important media channels and find a niche where you can excel.”
Kathrin Kosaca, deputy editor in chief and art director of German magazine Stern’s monthly VIEW photography magazine, sees more images than she could possible count. She and her team go through about 30, 000 images every day and sometimes only find one or two, sometimes none, that are right for the magazine.
“Each month VIEW offers a unique vision of the world with its selection of spectacular and emotional images. The reader always gets new impulses from a variety of unique images and is guided through different levels of emotion with each one.“
Visual story telling – which is an image that tells a story without the need for explanation, she says – is the most important tool of her job and the very heart of the magazine and which is why she relies heavily on good photography. “I love images that are emotionally moving for the observer.”
Kathrin fell in love with photography while working as a photo assistant, which led to her studies in visual communication. After graduating, she landed a job as a designer for a Gruner + Jahr magazine and in 2002 began freelancing for many high profile magazines, including Stern, Stern Fotografie, GEO, GEO Spain. Brigitte, Amica and Best Fashion.
In 2005, Kathrin, along with Tom Jacobi and Hans-Peter Junker, developed Stern VIEW and two years later she became its art director. “VIEW,” she says, “became the perfect opportunity for me to combine my passion for photography with design without having to work as photographer myself.”
Kathrin is fascinated by action and adventure photography because it often brings into perspective how small human beings are in the scheme of things, as well as expressing our innate freedom.
Her tips to upcoming photographers? “The most important thing is that each image tells a story and that it moves you in an emotional way in any direction.”
As a photo editor for Bolshoi Sport, the Russian publication covering local and international sport, Alexandr Ermilov describes his typical day as being like that of a Formula 1 racer. “In addition to Bolshoi Sport, I help create 3 other monthly magazines – so processes here move very quickly!” A seasoned pro of 12 years in the role, Alexandr claims to know what makes a perfect shot, saying that light, pose, exposure and composition are all equally important.
Though Bolshoi Sport might have changed over time, one thing remains consistent to the publication’s success – the importance of great photography. “I think, it’s the main thing. Our designers are very creative people, we discuss a lot, and sometimes disagree, but we always do everything possible to find and publish the best possible photos for every article.”
Like many editors, his advice to photographers is to be critical of your own work. "Take pictures. Every day. Then trash them. If you get only one great photo from all your sessions after the year, it will be a great day for you. Be critical of your photos. Digital gives people this feeling that everyone can be photographer. No! It’s about doing it the hard way and using the erase erase button on your camera," he says.
He says he's drawn to a simpler approach to photography. “I like more natural photos. Everyone is tired of massive retouching. He adds: "Soul makes a great shot. And an eye for location. The camera is a stupid machine – only photographers who have a wide mental outlook can create great shots.”
Maohua Fei is the Deputy Director of the Sports Photography Department of Xinhua News Agency, China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China, covering global daily news, including politics, social affairs, culture, economy, sport etc. He’s been with the agency for more than 20 years since graduating from university in 1996.
Maohua’s first taste of photography came in 2003 when he was selected as an overseas correspondents and sent to work in Nairobi, Kenya in 2003. “I was given a Canon D30 when I left for Africa. I not only fell in love with the vastness and beauty of the Kenyan Savanna, but also the art of photography.”
After returning to China, he was transferred to the photography department to focus on sports photography. Maohua’s work in the sports news photography department focuses mainly on events, activities and athletes all around the world.
“At the moment my daily routine involves selecting images captured by our sports photographers. I choose, sign and issue selected photographs, which are then sent to our domestic and international clients through our online system. Sometimes I still go out into the field and take photographs of major events like the Olympic Games.”
Maohua says that great photography holds historical significance. “Good photography means it captures a moment of history – it’s a piece of history seized through the lens. It allows people to understand this moment and even the history through the power of images.”
He claims to value uniqueness above all else, because public sports events and activities lend themselves to plenty of coverage. “Because everyone is exposed to the same scene, the ability to show the uniqueness in their work given the same circumstances is truly remarkable to me.”
Asked what it would take to impress him, he says: “The work should touch the viewer – I’d like to see the courage to explore the unknown.”
National Geographic Russia Editor-in-Chief Alexander Grek is most impressed by photostories about people who inspire their viewers to greatness. He’s well suited then to being a Red Bull Illume judge. When Alexander is not in the office pouring over some of the finest photography in the world and editing articles, he might be on a shoot in a far flung place, like, for example, when he climbed Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, to document Red Bull athlete Valery Rozov jumping from the summit and flying away in his wingsuit. “That moment of incredible tension in an attempt to become a winner is what fascinates me about action and adventure sports photography,” he says.
A physicist by trade, Alexander turned to writing about science for Vedomosti newspaper shortly after graduating from Novosibirsk State University. He became head of the newspaper’s science and technology section and was involved in launching magazines Popular Mechanics and Best Life. He’s been in his current role since 2010.
“We are telling stories about the diversity of the world around us, and about its people, to open new horizons. In Nat Geo we have a very simple rule – our goal is to film something that has never been filmed before, or do it in the way, no one has done it before.”
Alexander expects new technologies to continue allowing photographers to capture the world from fresh perspectives. In 2015, he says, it was drones that changed the game, and this year he thinks autonomous underwater camerabots will be the next big thing.
Mobile phone cameras and social media have also had a big impact on photography.
“Mobile cameras brought a new standard of speed,” he says. “Now any picture can be shot and distributed instantly. Social networks are the main platform for distributing the photos.“
To impress him as a judge, Alexander offers the same advice he gives to the photographers he works with: “Try to show anything you shoot from a different angle. Surprise the spectator.”
Chief executive editor of CHIP FOTO-VIDEO Digital magazine in China, Deng Dengdeng is committed to a lifelong process of learning about visual media. He’s been in the game for 10 years, majored in photography at the Beijing Film Academy and is now completing a masters degree in fine arts. As a photo editor he’s worked with outstanding photographers from China and from around the world. Fort he last three years he’s also hosted a television show about outdoor photography.
Established in China in 2005, CHIP FOTO-VIDEO Digital is the first professional magazine on digital photography in the country. It covers photography analysis, photography skills, equipment and post-production techniques. “Good photography should reflect the time and era in which it was created,” Dengdeng says. “Technically a good photograph should be outstanding in the composition, lighting, the capturing of a perfect moment, and it should contain an emotion that touches those who view it.”
While documentary photography is Dengdengs favorite style, he’s fascinated by action and adventure sport photography because of the athletes it captures and the way it reveals mankind exceeding its limits and connecting with the natural world through adventure. “Red Bull Illume is important because it enbales us to know ourselves and the world better,” he says.
Dengdeng is particularly excited about the contest’s new Mobile category. Photography, he belives, is no longer the domain of a priviledged few with technical photography skills. “It is becoming a way that people record their daily lives,” he says. “The art of photography might remain with those who have the skillset for professional photography, but the act itself will be something that everyone will obtain.”
His advice to upcoming photopraphers is short and sweet: “Just concentrate on your works. If it’s gold, it will glitter sooner or later.” He is equally concise with advice about how to impress him as a judge: “Try to create something less formalistic and with originality and depth.”
Wang Jie has seen it all during his photography career, having covered massive international and domestic events such as the Thailand Tsunami in 2004, the Earthquake in Indonesia in 2006 and the Wen Chuan Earthquake in Sichuan in 2008. He’s currently the Head of Photography of the Shanghai Morning Post – a newspaper covering stories about city-life, international affairs, social life, education, economy, culture and of course, sports.
Good photography plays an essential role in the Shanghai Morning Post. “Good photography combines spirit, emotion and visual beauty together. It will encourage people to contemplate and associate with our publication,” says Jie.
With more than 15 years photo editing experience, he certainly knows what he looks for in a photograph. “Excellent photography should have a certain theme, photography skills, the correct color of light and shade, clear images, perfect visual presentation and captures a decisive moment. ”
When asked about what fascinates him about action and adventure sports photography in particular, Jie says simply, “Movement joined with adventure. It’s all about combining man and nature in a harmonious way.”
According to Jie, the rise of mobile photography is an exciting development because of its broad reach. “Mobile photography enables more people to understand photography, learn about it and improve people's ability to appreciate the work. The internet is changing people's appreciation and dissemination of photography. It allows more opportunities for the improvement of the medium, and overall, I think it’s helping the development of photography in general.”
Red Bull Illume photographers will need to be adventurous to impress Jie. “Try to explore with your work. But never expect to be successful with only one photo.”
Salt Magazine’s readers are “trail seekers and happy dreamers” and the person who picks the best images to entertain them is Laura Luykenaar. She began as a graphic design intern with Salt 10 years ago, but discovered along the way her real strength lies in image selection and editing. “So my job naturally became more and more about that rather the design job I went to school for,” Luykenaar says.
Salt covers a wide range of outdoor adventure related stories, from interesting trips and profiles on inspiring people, to eco-minded articles and humourous pieces. As a small title, only a few people work on the magazine full time. “You can have the greatest writers or the most adventurous story, but without good images our magazine wouldn’t be where it is today. You need images to seduce the reader. To have them pick up the magazine and dive into the stories.”
What makes a great photo is difficult to boil down to one thing, she says. It needs to be “just right” in terms of its composition, light and focus. Out of 100 pictures, she says 95 might be okay, four rubbish and just one will have that right mix of components.
“I love photos that tell a story, photo’s that can give you a feeling that you are there on the spot,” Luykenaar says. “I enjoy a sports trick or jump image, but my personal favorites usually offer a broader perspective.”
Rather than being just a ‘last year’ happening, Luykenaar expects mobile photography to continue making a big impact. Mobile phone camera, she says, will have more and more features and better specifications, offering people an accessible means to discover photography, leading many non-photographers to take it up and potentially become serious about “real photography with a real camera”.
“I won’t say that everybody can make perfect pictures, but with a keen eye and the right amount of luck you can get very nice ones!” To get noticed as an upcoming photographer, Luykenaar advises to use social media intelligently; picking the right tags to go with the right images will expose you to a new crowd.
Impressing her a Red Bull Illume judge? “Tell a story! Make sure the photo gets the viewer thinking”
Ariane Dayer is the Editor in Chief of Swiss publication Le Matin Dimanche. As the only French language Sunday newspaper in Switzerland, Ariane and and her team cover a range of topics, from economics to lifestyle, with a special focus on national politics, local stories and of course, sports.
When she first got the job, one of her main priorities was to improve the quality of the images they print. “There is no story without good photography. Even though we have improved a lot, we are still working on it. I have created several pages dedicated solely to photography,” she says.
Asked specifically about action and adventure sports photography, Ariane says that emotion plays an important role. “Action and adventure sports photography is often the most dramatic – you have action, you have incredible landscapes, and you have basic human emotions like fear, joy, etc.”
She also feels that mobile photography is an area that has changed the way photography is being viewed. “There’s an opportunity for anyone to take a photography right now and to share it with the world. You don’t need to be a professional to have the chance to be at the right place at the right time, take a picture and spread it.”
Tips for photographers looking to impress Ariane this year? “Show us not only the action, but also what it takes to get there and how athletes feel when they succeed. And when they fail, of course.”
Klaus Polzer’s journey to life as photo editor at freeski mag, Downdays, was an unlikely one – he spent his 20s studying and gaining the equivalent of a masters in physics. “But I liked to spend my winters in the mountains,” he says.
His passion got serious and he began competing in the first freeride comps back in the 90s. Just when he looked set to get a proper job where he could put that masters to use, he was asked to join a German freeski mag. He stayed for seven years.
These days he’s at the helm of Downdays. He passed on the role of chief editor, preferring to work as photo editor, ‘my biggest passion in making magazines’, and production manager.
As an athlete turned photographer Klaus has an interesting perspective on what makes a great action photo, which depends on what standpoint you’re coming from. “A photo of a trick is disregarded by most action sports participants if the style is not ‘right’ – say the grab is at the wrong place, even if the photo is great,” he says.
“For me, a great photo is one that makes me feel what was going on at the moment the photo was taken. When a photo can make you re-live those moments, it’s great.”
At the office, his day is divided between various coffee breaks interspersed with some editing and managerial stuff. “But what I prefer,” he says, “is to get up, get a coffee, pack my ski and photo gear and head out into the mountains.” Who can argue with that?
Peter Hove Olesen is a photojournalist for Politiken, the Danish publication covering everything from political issues to leisure and portraits. With more than 13 years experience, he’s pretty clear about his favorite style of photography – photojournalism. “Candid. On the spot. Unaltered. Taken at the right moment.”
Good photography is naturally important to Peter. “It’s essential. I suppose I would get fired if it wasn’t,” he jokes. “If an image moves you, it could be a good photo. Of course there are some general rules to follow, but a good photo can be taken by anybody. It should make you cry, smile or be angry – as long as the image evokes a reaction.”
What fascinates Peter about action and adventure sports photography in particular is how it takes you inside the action. “It can put you right in the spot of the athlete or adventurer. It’s fascinating to see.”
Asked about the role of mobile photography and social media, Peter says, “It only changed everything. The business will never be the same. Suddenly we can see high-res images from everywhere in the world, the sheer mass of documentation is overwhelming. I do feel that sometimes the world moves too fast – news becomes old news in a matter of hours. And that means that really big stories are forgotten, because the Kardashians got a new kitten.”
His tips to impress him in Red Bull Illume 2016? “Be a good photographer – you only become one by working hard. Let other people see your photos and listen to what they have to say. Good photographers have strong eyes and big ears. And lastly – do not alter the photos! Photoshop is a great tool, but too much of it can ruin everything.”
The “one common message” of action and adventure photography is the reason Christof Kalt believes Red Bull Illume is so important – it inspires photographers and athletes to “dream bigger”. “Most people could never dream of having the kind of extreme, or action adventure experience that’s captured in this contest,” he says. “Red Bull Illume gives the athlete and the photographer a chance to share that experience.”
Photo editor at Switzerland’s Blick Group, Kalt’s day begins chasing news from overnight. Morning meetings decide what’s newsworthy and what will be published that day, then Kalt works with journalists to decide the mood of a story and the best images for each one. “Good photography, especially in the case of visual storytelling, has the ability to tell the story itself. It’s is at the heart of what we do.”
Before starting at Blick five years ago, Kalt studied at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York and after graduating worked as an assistant to a photo journalist and then as an assistant photo editor in GEO Magazine’s New York Office.
The photography that wows him reveals a facet of the photographer’s personality. “Especially those who have a clever sense of humor and communicate it in a witty and indirect way. Creative risks often are what sets great photography apart from just good, or average photography.”
Not being afraid of taking creative risks is an essential attitude required to gain exposure as an upcoming photographer, Kalt says. As is the ability to confidently do old-fashioned networking. “Get out there and see what people are doing – give and receive constructive criticism. Be inspired, and in doing so provide inspiration for someone else.”
While social media is a great way for photographers to promote and share their work, Kalt cautions people to be informed about its pros and cons and copyright laws. “Don’t rely on one form of communication with your audience – but find the balance that works right for you.”
Fabio Marra is the photography editor on Brazil’s largest national daily newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo. “It’s a challenging and amazing role in the aspect of visual information,” he says. And demanding. Fabio regularly puts in 12-hour stints at the desk, editing photos for print and web, and organizing the day-to-day work of local and freelance photographers. He’s always had a creative eye and before that was art editor at the paper for eight years.
Good imagery is everything, he says. “The adventure and sport pictures can describe the events without words.” It can also take the reader to heart of the action. “It has the ability to put you in the exact location of the event and to give you the adrenaline feeling just like you were there,” he says.
As a newspaperman, Fabio is used to the high-speed demands of news and is all too familiar with the immediacy of social media. While he’s ok with smartphone photography, it shouldn’t come at the expense of composition, he says. “The problem is losing angle quality, creativity and inspiration. Being fast should not be the same as losing quality.”
As for any tips for aspiring Red Bull Illume winners, he has just two words: “Boldness and creativity.” “Say no to the same angles and treatments,” he adds.
As photo director at Sportsnet magazine, Canada’s only national sports publication, it’s a fair bet that a lot of images cross Myles McCutcheon’s desk on a regular basis. But an image has to really stand out for him to notice. A great photo he says is one that ‘makes me pause and think’. “It should make me ask ‘why or how’ or make me say ‘Holy Sh*t!’”
“Without good photography we do not stand out as a publication; without good photographers I am out of a job,” he adds.
Although he’s been in this role for five years he’s been working as a photo editor and director for 15, ever since joining the business straight after school – when he was ‘thrown to the wolves’ as he puts it!
A typical day is taken up by the various jobs of a photo director – fielding editor requests, brainstorming ideas, commissioning photos and illustrations, on-set direction for both video and photo shoots, research… “And of course meetings that could always be 20 minutes shorter.”
Myles is open-minded about the opportunities of recent developments in photography, including smartphone use. “Instagram in particular is an amazing tool to showcase and discover. Everyone is a photographer now and talent will shine through regardless of the means used to capture the image.” But there’s one fad he says he’ll be glad to see the back of. “I will be happy when the overuse of HDR disappears,” he says.
So if you’re looking to impress, keep it real. “Shoot from the heart,” he adds.
Brazilian Wiland Pinsdorf began in his journey into the world of action sports covering motocross, windsurfing and triathlon for cable television. He directed an impressive short film that mixed footage of Parkour with stunning cityscapes of São Paulo. Innovation has always been central to his approach – he was a pioneer in using 60 DSLRs to recreate the striking Matrix effect in a skate bowl, for example.
The world of adventure sport photography has always been important to him because of the challenge of capturing unforgettable moments in time. “This involves a lot of study, planning, technical field skill and especially instinct,” he says. “It is your instinct that allows you capture the essence of action sports.”
Wiland says photography that has a sensory quality and transcends the ordinary boundaries of everyday life. He believes we live in a “dictatorship for hyperrealism”.
“I love to see the picture more and more as an art form where you cannot distinguish what is real or imaginary.” A great image is as much about story telling as it is about the technical aspects of photography. “A great photo must be able to tell a story and at the same time have a visual appeal that makes you want to see more,” he says.
For him, Red Bull Illume is important because it celebrates experimentation and transgression and recognizes action sport photography. To impress him as a judge, he says you must be willing to bear your soul. “I think every photographer should seek their identity and somehow let it show in each picture. Photography is the mirror of your soul and the photo needs to have soul and purpose to sustain itself.”
Wiland is the director of Canvas 24p Films, a production company specializing in film, documentary and action sports. A man with more than 23 years of experience, Wiland works with some of Brazil’s largest television channels and advertising agencies on a daily basis. He has also led numerous film projects for Red Bull Media House in 10 countries across 4 continents.
Editor-in-chief of Action Asia magazine, Steve White, got his first taste of publishing editing scientific reports on the disposal of nuclear waste. He never found out if the rumours about the boxes of materials piled in the corridors were true but this temporary role wrought lasting change. After returning to a degree in computing, he lasted two years in that profession before buying a one-way ticket to Rio.
“That trip led to me arriving penniless in Hong Kong the best part of two years later, in early 1994. Financial and educational editing positions got me solvent again and then I landed Action Asia: a magazine that has allowed to me see large chunks of Asia, fired my passion for volcanoes and turned my spare room into an Aladdin’s den of outdoors gear.”
Action Asia covers adventure travel across the Asia-Pacific, stretching the definition of Asia as wide as possible (the Orient has long been a slippery concept, he says) while focusing on sustainable, non-motorised ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Photography that captures textures downy pillows of powder snow, clouds, grains in rock and wood is White’s favorite style. And the interplay of a moment in time and timelessness capturing something fleeting that also reveals something lasting is what fascinates White about the genre of action and adventure photography.
Red Bull Illume, he says, alerts professionals to what’s hot creatively and creates a buzz around photography, which at times is seen today as second-best to video. The next big thing in photography will be augmented reality, says White. But while he believes that will give mobile photography a new lease of life, shooting with a mobile has its pros and cons. “For the better: democratisation of image capture. For worse: an obsession with selfies and food, and oversaturated colours.”
He offers a nice clue on how to impress him as a Red Bull Illume judge: “The rise of done-in-a-day adventures and urban adventuring shows how you can make discoveries everywhere. This makes it easier to show the confluence of the everyday and the extraordinary. Just look at the last Red Bull Illume winner for affirmation of that.”
It goes without saying, but when you’re the editor in chief of a photography magazine the pressure to find great images is high – your readers know a bad photo when they see one. Fortunately, that’s not a problem for Digital Photographer’s Amy Squibb. “We are lucky to work with some fantastic photographers who take some really phenomenal shots,” she says.
The editor, who has been at the helm of various photography titles for a decade, says good photography today is more important than ever – and not just because they’re a photography magazine. “It’s vital to publishing in general.”
She loves the photography of live music gigs for their raw energy – and says there’s a parallel there with action sports photography. “Nothing beats the feeling of capturing that atmosphere and the mood of the moment. A split-second delay can make such a difference to the moment you capture, and when you really nail it, nothing beats that.”
“The amount of energy some action shots contain make them truly stunning to look at,” she adds. And that’s what she’s looking for. “It’s important that an action shot portrays the sense of energy and emotion from the scene, so I can really feel the high-stakes movement that was present on that day.”
After studying marketing and with experience in the newspaper industry in Switzerland, Christian Bugnon started a travel magazines called Newland in 1996. Later he founded sports magazines, such as Skippers (sailing magazine), Mountain Report magazine (High mountain magazine) and then 30° degrees, a sport, mountain, adventure, lifestyle and travel magazine.
The publisher fully understands the value of photography: “More than 60% of the magazine content is about great pictures. I strongly believe that photography is the soul of the magazine,” says Christian Bugnon.
Christian Bugnon will be a fan of the Playground category: “I am always impressed about the integration of the sport in its specific location (such as the sea or in the mountains). The photo should perfectly reflect a location or a moment. It should fill the viewer with emotion,” he says.
As a photography enthusiast, Christian Bugnon is pleased to be involved in Red Bull Illume: “I think that it’s a great international photography competition that gathers the best sport photographers!”
An ability to make difficult decisions is one of the things we look for in a Red Bull Illume judge. For Lee Morris, owner of fstoppers.com, every day begins with a really tough one. “I wake up late and check the wind. If it's windy I go kiteboarding. If it's not, I come into the office.”
The former wedding photographer started Fstoppers six years ago with Patrick Hall. Today the site covers news, product releases and showcases various ‘how to’ videos.
“I love Red Bull Illume,” he says. “Each image is so different. “I love how exciting it is while at the same time being so broad a genre. It's a public art gallery that everyone can actually enjoy. I've seen a lot of photography contests but nothing as cool as Red Bull Illume.”
He adds: “I’m excited to see amazing locations, angles and compositions. I am impressed by images that make me say, ‘why didn't I think of that?’”
He says the contest helps to focus attention on talented photographers and their work. “We see so much mediocre photography every day that we don't even notice it. When you see an amazing photograph you won't be able to forget it. Great photography makes you take notice.”
He adds that he’s a fan of the new mobile phone category. “It has brought photography to every single person. Anyone is capable of taking an amazing image with their phone and it has also gotten many more people interested in photography as a career. But it takes something special to make us pause and really appreciate a photograph.”
As for taking that next step to going pro, he says it’s the usual advice: “Shoot all the time and then share your work. If your work is good and you make it accessible, you will succeed eventually.”
Austria’s Sportmagazin describes itself as the sports fans’ bible. That doesn’t mean however that its photo editor Jae-Hun “Joe” Yun gets to play god. But he is the guy who’s going through 1,000s of images a day, and selecting not just the most stunning ones but the shots that best tell the key stories of the day. “A good picture should just stun and wow you within the first moment you see it,” says Jae-Hun.
For a busy news outlet that’s crucial as he’ll only get a few seconds to look at a new image, often less. But a photo needs to do more than stun: “A great action image makes you feel the movement and power of the moment and wants you to be a part of that,” he says.
Being a photo editor wasn’t Jae-Hun’s first career choice. “I attended a technical high school for computing and started as a software engineer. But since I was always fascinated by sports and especially action photography, I changed my profession.” He was previously photo editor at Sportwoche before becoming head of pictures at Sportmagazin almost ten years ago.
He says he’s a fan of using a mobile to grab shots when it’s the only camera on you but wary of the impact of social media. “The easy availability and number of photos that are shot every day mean that people just scroll through and maybe miss a real good one.”
That’s where Red Bull Illume helps, he says. “Today, we’re flooded with so many digital pictures, so a contest like Red Bull Illume helps to honor photographers’ work.”
Tomáš Hliva is editor-in-chief of FOTO, and his world involves judging all genres of photography on a daily basis. “The magazine should contain only the best of what has happened in photography,” he says.
“We try to cover all the interesting stories and always bring something new and unseen,” he says. His aim at the Czech magazine is to help readers view the world the same way a good photographer might, “showing them a way of looking at the world around us”.
When he’s not sat behind a computer, Tomáš is also a keen bike fan and has his own view on what makes a great action shot. For him, the best action moments are the unexpected and candid ones. “I love snapping unexpected moments, without previous preparation, immediately. For me, candid means breaking through the emotional fortress of my subjects and finding some kind of surprising moment underneath that.”
And sometimes, the best way to capture them is with a mobile. “The best camera is that camera, which is always with you. And the omnipresence of mobile cameras, combined with their unobtrusiveness and discreetness have made them particularly effective at capturing candid moments.”
He says he appreciates the way Red Bull Illume showcases the hard work, courage and perseverance of athletes, but ultimately casts a light on the photographers themselves. “Red Bull Illume gives photographers a priceless opportunity to promote their work to a wider range of people and it enriches both sides, photographers and the public as well.”
For anyone looking to take their photography to the next level, he has some surprising advice: ignore the people who like your photos. “Instead, listen more to critics.”
As a snowboarding obsessed teen, Ed Blomfield’s journey into action and adventure sport media began the classic way – snowbumming it in the French Alps after getting out of school.
After a few seasons of shredding pow there, he realized he needed a better way of sustaining his life in the Alps than cleaning chalet toliets. That’s when he began writing for action and adventure magazines, which eventually led to him landing a job at UK snowboarding magazine Whitelines. “I was thrown in at the deep end – on the first day I discovered the old photo editor was leaving and I’d also be doing his job, which was scary at the time since images are so crucial to a print publication, but actually it proved one of the most rewarding elements of the job.”
Blomfield now heads up snowboarding content at Factory Media which has Whitelines, Onboard, and Snowboarder MBM in its stable and made all of its titles online-only in 2015. He’s also founder of Radshot.com – a reservoir for incredible snowboarding images.
As a digital journalist he wears many hats (“you’re part manager, part writer, part filmer, part photographer, part designer and part IT nerd”) but good photography remains vital to his work and even more so when it comes to snowboarding. “Where a football fan might get excited about stats, our narrative has always been told via imagery that captures the feeling, the tricks and the lifestyle. Unless you’re actually on a hill riding then you live it vicariously through video and pictures.”
While technique is important, Blomfield believes "a good eye" is the key to great photography. "In the end it is the imagination of the photographer to ‘see’ a shot before the shutter is depressed that really makes an image." He’s not a fan of excessive post production and favors images with natural light and a timeless quality rather than heavy flash or trendy preset filters.
Increasingly powerful video cameras, he claims, will be the next big thing to impact photography because they will allow creatives to take high resolution stills from movie clips. Another looming game changer are cameras that shoot multiple apertures simultaneously. “Can we even still call that photography? Just as with the move to digital, it’ll be a fun debate I’m sure.”
To impress Blomfield as a judge, the art of surprise is the way forward. “The best images surprise you, so by definition I couldn’t really tell you what I’m looking for! Just don’t go crazy in post unless your concept really calls for it.”
Director of photography at Newsweek, Japan since 2001, Hideko Kataoka oversees and directs photography for the printed and digital editions of the magazine as well as its special issues. She began working as a photographer for it in 1991, covering national news, social issues and portraiture of world business and cultural leaders.
In 2004, Kataoka launched the Picture Power section in the magazine, a weekly photo essay that captures underreported topics around the world. She is also a lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University, does portfolio reviews and has served as a juror at international photography festivals and competitions, such as World Press Photo and FotoFest.
She is fascinated by action and adventure sports photography because it captures intense moments of human experience, and the beauty of human body in action. “A well run contest like Red Bull Illume raises the bar, improving the quality and understanding of photography. It gives the audience a fascination with photography.”
Kataoka is positive about mobile photography because it has allowed anyone to take a picture and share it worldwide. But it also has a downside. “Unfortunately the proliferation of mediocre photography, highlighting the importance of good editing by photographers.”
She offers simple advice to upcoming photographers: “Just start doing something you know and love, and show it in your own style. Tell a story about the event you are recording.”
Multipage feature articles in a high quality magazine like Terra Mater demand the very best photography. Without it, there’s no story, says Isabella Russ. the German-language magazine’s head of photography.
After studying journalism at university, Russ began working as a picture editor for a news magazine and has worked for various publications in Austria as a photo editor.
A title in Red Bull Media House’s stable, Terra Mater covers foreign cultures, rare animals, historic people and events as well as economics, technology and science.
“Everyday I’m searching for outstanding photographers to send on assignment and for photos that deal with environment, conservation, wildlife, social issues - mostly internationally. “It is important to work really close with photographers. It is equaliy important to work close with the creative director to find the best way to tell a story.”
With most featured stories running from 15 to 18 pages, photos are a deciding factor in whether a story gets published or not.
For Russ, aside from obvious things like composition and light, it’s the right timing and a sense of tension that makes a great photo. “Any photographic style has its charms for me. I love portrait photography as much as the conventional repotage photography.” She’s fascinated by action and adventure sport photography because it makes her part of a world in which people do things she would never do herself.
The next big thing in photography, Russ predicts, will be a trend to move away from extreme editing. And the rise of social media is also having a big impact. “Social media is really important for me as picture editor. It’s a way to get in touch with photo communities, to see how a photographer works. I've been seeing a new wave of photographers who are less competitive with each other and eager to share their friends’ talents with me. It is really wonderful to see a great sense of community.”
For upcoming photographers and Red Bull Illume entrants, Russ advises they find stories with an unsual angle and, most importantly, surprise the judges!
Editor of Capture, Australia’s leading journal for emerging and pro photographers, Marc Gafen had a circuitous journey into the world of publishing. He started his career doing IT risk management for a major accounting firm, but after four years he’d had his fill of the corporate world and decided to follow his dream of becoming a professional photographer. He started assisting well-respected photographers, and began writing for magazines, including as a regular features contributor for Capture.
Soon, he was working independently as a professional photographer, shooting everything from weddings to corporate assignments to his niche of dog portraiture. In July 2007 he became editor of Capture, and has gradually stepped back from working as a photographer as that role grew.
“At Capture we focus on brining stories to photographers that they can’t easily find elsewhere, with a focus on informing and inspiring readers. We pride ourselves on only running the strongest, most visually engaging photography. Mediocre work doesn’t come anywhere near to making it into the magazine.”
Capture covers a wide variety of photography styles and Gafen understands and appreciates the skill required to capture an amazing image, regardless of genre. However, documentary and conflict photography fascinates him, especially when it shows something far removed from his life. Action and adventure photography, he says, blows his mind because of the difficulty of being in the right place, at the right time to get the perfect shot. For this reason, he’s a big fan of Red Bull Illume.
“We’re surrounded by billions of mediocre photos now that every mobile device is a camera. Anything that celebrates brilliant and amazing imagery is important for our industry.”
His advice to upcoming photographers is to focus on shooting as much as possible. “Critically assess your images and seek guidance from a mentor. If you want great exposure, you need to be shooting great work.”
To impress him as a judge, Grafen says the trick is to make him linger over an image. “Make us wonder just exactly how you managed to capture it.”
The ability to sift through thousands of images on a daily basis and select the most outstanding is a key criteria for a Red Bull Illume judge which makes Guillaume Clavières the right man for the job. He is photo director at Paris Match, an extremely visual magazine that covers everything from news to people.
He began as an intern 30 years ago and never left. Today his role at the weekly magazine involves scanning social networks and agency images – “we receive 15,000 images a day!” – meeting photographers and editors and having editorial conferences to decide content.
Photography is obviously crucial. “In this digital world, the image has never been so strong and accessible – it gives you a new perspective towards the world. It is the base of our business,” he adds. “We are constantly searching for the best imag-es to fit any given subject.”
What makes a great photo? “An image that provokes emotions, that attracts, that doesn’t need an explanation to be understood.” He says that, what makes action sports photography so unique is the way it captures those ‘moments of emotion’. “It is the tension where you feel the adrenaline rising – and at the end, the deliverance, victory and accomplishment.”
His advice to photographers and aspiring Red Bull Illume winners? “They should develop their own style, their own ideas and avoid copying what has been done before. They should be good and try to attain the full potential of their ideas.”
Coco Tâche-Berther has been at the heart of the European surf, skate and snow scene for 25 years as an editor, publisher and campaigner of 7sky who believes that the action sports community can be a force for good in the world.
“We were the first multisports magazine in Europe, the first one to talk about snowboarding, and for many years, we were known as the snow, skate, surf, eco & awareness magazine,” she says. “For a few years, we’ve shifted our focus, aiming to unite all people, initiatives and companies working towards a positive evolution of our earth, including our boardsports community. The result is called 7sky.life.
This is now her third time as a Red Bull Illume judge and she’s well acquainted with the contest and the people who make it special.
“It motivates photographers to go that much further, to go for THE shot that has a chance to win,” she says. “I think that many photographers have sleepless nights regarding Red Bull Illume. It’s a huge chance to enter the big photographers’ scene and enter the life of fame!”
Her view on what makes a great photo? “It’s the vibration, the colors, the ambiance, the emotions it transmits.”
But it’s not the images that make the contest so unique. It’s something else, she adds: “The photographers, the love they put into the people and environment they capture, and the heartfelt emotions they offer us with their shots.”
Her parting shot is an exhortation for photographers to show us emotion. “Go for pictures we’ve never seen! Touch our hearts! I love magic in the photos. I love surprises, harmony and beauty!”
Jimmy Wilson is a rare thing. He’s not just a photo editor – but a previous Red Bull Illume winner himself. He was a category finalist in both 2007 and 2013 for respectively, his remote flash-lit shot of Alek Parker riding a wave at night and his shot of surfer Kelly Slater about to enter the water.
Known as the Jimmicane, he’s been at Surfing magazine for eight years, joining as assistant photo editor at the age of 22. Now he’s not only photo editor but in charge of managing their photographers and organizing shoots and travel.
Needless to say, he’s a big Red Bull Illume fan. “It’s one of a kind. I know from experience that it pushes people to think outside the box and create something different.” He says the coolest part is the way it gathers so much talent together during the winner award ceremony. “Our photography is very isolated a lot of the time, so it’s amazing to hear all the stories from peers and legends.”
Great photography, he says, is as important as life itself. “I like getting excited about a photo, about a swell, about a contest, about going surfing, or being with friends and family.” But it’s getting more difficult to succeed thanks to social media.
“I love Instagram and what digital cameras have done for photography but it’s overflowing,” he says. “Everyone sees so much good content daily, it’s gotten harder and harder to be truly impressed.”
So what does impress Wilson? Truly unique angles, he says. “I love stuff shot from above – it blows other perspectives away. There’s also a kid from Australia who’s getting wild angles by towing in behind surfers in huge barrels.” Wilson adds that the next thing will be submarine drones.
As for advice to up-and-coming photographers, he says: “Pick something specific and be a perfectionist. You’ll have a better chance if you do one thing well, than if you do a lot of things average.”
l’Equipe needs little introduction – it’s one of the world’s most famous sports pa-pers and Jacques Deydier is its photo department director. He also has responsibil-ity for other sports titles in the publishing stable – France Football and Vélo maga-zine. It’s safe to say he knows an incredible sports image when he sees one.
Showcasing the best photography is the goal of the entire photo staff, he says. “We have a duty to inform the public.”
Deydier has been at L’Equipe his entire career, joining the staff as a photo editor in 1983 and has been head of the department since 1994. During that time he’s seen a lot of changes in photography but when it comes to catching his eye, technolog-ical advances will be no help. What’s he looking for? “Simplicity,” he says. “It requires more work.” A great photo, he adds, is one that “combines information, emotion and visual appeal”.
He says that social media is great, allowing photographers to gain high visibility – but with that comes a responsibility to stay true. “It also increases the risk of pic-tures being manipulated and requires photographers to work in a truly ethical manner.”
In the world of sport photography Brad Smith needs no introduction. He’s been in the game for more than 30 years and has overseen photo production for nine Olympics, 19 Super Bowls and numerous other world class sporting events.
He was recently Director of Photography at Time Inc, Sports Group, where he was responsible for all photographic content for Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids and Golf Magazine, both in print and digital.
The importance of good photography to his work can’t be overstated – it’s the very essence. “A great photo makes you feel you are part of the story. The next best thing to actually being there, is a great photograph.”
Sports action, including both traditional and adventure sports, is his favorite style of photography, followed by landscape and nature.“There’s an absolute rush you can feel looking at action and adventure photography – it makes you feel something inside, just short of self-participation.”
Red Bull Illume plays an important role in promoting the genre and bringing athletic accomplishment to the world. “Nothing like still photography documents man’s endeavors, be it sport or otherwise. Promoting and documenting athletes pushing the envelope of their capabilities brings these achievements to a larger audience.”
Smith offers concise advice for upcoming photographers. “Shoot everything, make friends, follow people doing interesting things. To impress me as a judge make me remember that event by showing me something I haven’t seen before.”
Most athletes get started on their sport not long after they’re standing upright and walking. And it wasn’t so far different for Denis Balibouse, photographer and editor at Reuters, the largest independent international news agency in the world. His father was a sports journalist and he used to follow him around football and and ice hockey matches, motocross events and various other playgrounds.
“I started shooting local news and sports during my teens and have not stopped since turning pro in 1991,” he says. These days he covers sports, politics and economics, mostly from Geneva, but his favorite genre is action sports photography. “The level of uncertainty,” he says. “There's so much planning and yet you never know how it will be until the athlete goes into action mode.”
His thoughts on what makes on a great photo? “Less is more. I find that a simple idea or composition often makes for a great picture; as a photojournalist it is also very important to convey a news element.”
As for what is next, Balibouse is unequivocal. “It's already here: mobile photography. “You have to take the shot with what you have, which means less choice in the lens department and fewer frames per second.”
Hannah McCaughey started off her career with Rolling Stone and stayed for seven years before moving to Esquire as a deputy art director for two years. She then made the move to Outside Magazine where she has worked for the past 15 years and is currently the design & photography director.
Outside Magazine is all about inspiration, she says. “The mission is to inspire participation in the world outside through award-winning coverage of the sports, people, places, adventures, discoveries, environmental issues, health and fitness, gear and apparel, trends, and events that define the active lifestyle.”
Great photography is ‘crucial’ to the magazine; it features the work of many of the best known names in action sports photography. For McCaughey, what she finds fascinating with this genre is to see ‘the guts in people’.
She adds that a great photograph is composed of several elements: “A surprise, big or small, a real gesture and beautiful colors!” Her advice? “Be true to yourself, show me something we haven’t seen before.”
Founder and editor-in-chief of The Outdoor Journal Apoorva Prasad’s road to outdoor adventure began when he was four years old when his parents went on a road trip to Nepal and he first saw the Himalayas. The sight of those giant mountains, he believes, set him on the path he’s walking today. This is one of the reasons he’s passionate about good photography. “Images can influence and change opinions, and without sounding hyperbolic, they can also change the directions of peoples’ lives, and eventually, change the world!”
Prasad got into climbing as a teen, and found writing and photography could finance his pursuit. This led him to freelancing for media outlets all over the world. After travelling between India, France and the US, he decided to take his experience to the next level, by founding The Outdoor Journal. “I decided to create something that truly represented the global, transnational passion for the outdoors, which I felt wasn’t represented adequately by existing media,” he says.
The Outdoor Journal magazine covers everything from climbing and alpinism, to surfing, adventure travel, and on to wilderness and environmental conservation.
High quality photography is critical to its storytelling, Prasad says.
For him, a great image must meet more than basic requirements such as composition, lighting, and emotion. “At a deeper level, the image should also show an understanding of the history of visual arts and its effect on culture, society, people,” he says. “I believe action and adventure sports photography represents a kind of pinnacle of human spirit and achievement. I feel that spectrum of human achievement can be encapsulated in an action sports image.”
Prasad is enthusiastic about the access, immediacy and urgency that mobile phone cameras have brought to photography, but is more weary of the impact of social media. “The best photography should be viewed physically, in print, possibly large format; social media means people aren’t necessarily always able to appreciate the finest images the way they should be truly viewed. “
His advice for upcoming photographers? “Submit your work far and wide, and don’t have an ego. Some of the best artists and athletes are also some of the most genuine and humble people in the world. The work will speak for itself.”
Mary Anne Potts always dreamed of landing a job at National Geographic. At 23, she found her way in the door and began working as an assistant to the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Adventure magazine, and gradually worked her way up to her current position as editorial director. “It’s been a dream come true – and a lot of exciting, hard work – ever since.”
The magazine is all about outdoor adventure and exploration, and favours stories that combine that in some way with science, culture, conservation and personal transformation. Key to storytelling is incredible photography. “We don’t run a story without it. It is the window into the story and the vehicle throughout.”
For Potts, what distinguishes a great image from a good one, is that it mixes the unexpected with a sense of story. She is a fan of all photography styles, but has a special place in her heart for action and adventure photography. “I am always impressed with action and adventure sports photographers’ depth of knowledge of their subjects and craft. It’s a challenging physical, mental, and emotional formula to get these incredible images—with a high amount of sweat, skills, and suffering. The reward is truly unique images.”
Potts says mobile photography has been a game changer. She is blown away by the quality of images being captured. Social media too has had a big influence. “I think the audience has grown more sophisticated and more appreciative of great photography and photographers as a result of social media—a good thing!”
To upcoming photographers, Pott says being original and authentic is a must, as is embracing social media platforms to promote work. How to impress her as a Red Bull Illume judge? “I’m looking for photos I have not seen before, what that means is up to you!”
Jun Tsuboike is a photo editor at BuzzFeed Japan in Tokyo. Born and mostly raised in Seattle, he graduated from Boston University with a degree in journalism. His work has been recognized by the Boston Press Photographers Association, Looking China Youth Film Project, and the New England Emmys.
BuzzFeed Japan is BuzzFeed’s newest international vertical. It features social and entertainment news from across the globe, and Jun oversees the image selection so stories generate impactful and lasting impressions.
“Good visuals aren’t always the ‘prettiest’ ones,” he says. “Beauty can be found within disorder as long as it’s accessible to viewers. Whether it be a photograph, film, or illustration, there’s something beyond words that speaks to the reptile part of our brains.”
As a judge for Red Bull Illume, Jun says he’s looking for craft. “I hope to see the photographer's uniqueness to shine through the frame and learn something about their vision.”
fotoMAGAZIN is a monthly periodical with a print run of over 80,000 copies. In Germany, the magazine is one of the leading photography magazines and has been on the market for 60 years.
In 1987 Zollner received his degree in Mass Communications at Munich University and began his journalistic career as a film critic in 1987. From 1987 to 1991 he was the editor of several film magazines in Munich and after that he decided to devote himself completely to photography.
He started working with fotoMAGAZIN in 1991 as Director of Photography and from October 2003 to February 2006 he was Editor in Chief of the German periodical Photo Technik International. He returned full-time to fotoMAGAZIN in 2006, becoming the Managing Editor in March 2007.
Ryan Stutt is president of The King Publishing Project, the largest action sports network in Canada. The King Network tells stories about skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing and skiing.
Ryan started off covering action sports at SBC Media and after five years as an editor there decided to start two magazines of his own, King Shit Skateboard Magazine and King Snow Snowboard Magazine. Eight years later, he’s got four more action adventure sport titles in the stable. He and his team are constantly assessing photography as they go about publishing 20 issues every year. Without good photography, he says, there wouldn’t be magazines.
“Action and adventure sport photography is one of the few fields of photography that constantly surprises me with its growth and change,” he says. What makes a great photo is hard for him to say because there’s a “certain unquantifiable element to it”.
“To me, it’s a combination of composition and capturing the right moment,” Ryan says. He encourages up and coming photographers to really study their craft and to quiz photographers they respect about their techniques and approaches. “Practice like hell before you submit photos to publications.”