Eight weeks to go

Eight weeks to go

The Red Bull Illume submissions window is gently swinging closed – just eight weeks remain for photographers to submit their best action and adventure sports shots. Submissions will close on April 30th so there is still plenty of time to go through your image library and enter your favorites. Photographers are able to submit up to 50 images, five images per category, so there are plenty of slots available to showcase your best work!

When submitting images, photographers will need to pick the most suitable contest category: lifestyle, playground, energy, spirit, close up, wings, sequence, new creativity, experimental and illumination. Careful though, once an image has been submitted, there can be no changes! For help picking the right category, click here.

The overall winner will receive the new Leica S camera, while category winners will each receive a Leica X2. Other prizes will include broncolor's new Move, their portable flash, and the latest strap system from Sun-Sniper. ?

"Red Bull Illume put my work on the map,”  said Chris Burkard, winner of the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest. As well as attracting the top names in action and adventure sport photography, it is always a great opportunity to unearth new talent. This could be your chance to break through and receive global recognition for your work!

Read the latest stories

Shooting skaters in the streets of Brazil with Fabiano Rodrigues

I look for natural light and where possible, I prefer to photograph simpler tricks with beautiful aesthetics to create a sense of minimalism.

© Fabiano Rodrigues / Red Bull Illume

What are your basic stats and how did you get into photography?

My name is Fabiano Rodrigues, I come from Brazil and I was born and raised in Santos; a city 1 hour from São Paulo. I’m based in São Paulo at the moment. I was interested in photography because of skateboarding, and as a former professional skater, I began photographing a lot at the time. I was fascinated by the equipment and loved the theme of photography in skateboard magazines.

How did you get into skating?

My mother gave me a skateboard when I was 12 years old and I have not stopped since. At this time I was surfing and skateboarding in Santos.

How was it being a Red Bull Illume finalist for the ‘enhance’ category back in 2016?

I was very happy with this; Red Bull Illume has the best photographers on the planet and being among the finalists is great motivation. It is not a matter of competition or being the winner, but an indication of your trajectory and the recognition you get from it.

What have you been up to since?

I now have ten years of photography experience. During this time I had the great opportunity to be a photographer for Volcom Brazil and shoot their skate team which has taught me a lot. Parallel to this, I worked hard on my personal projects which are influenced by contemporary art. My photography work has also been exhibited at many great galleries in Brazil and Europe.

How would you describe your photographic style when it comes to skating?

I try to shoot non-standard photos without following any rules. I look for natural light and where possible, I prefer to photograph simpler tricks with beautiful aesthetics to create a sense of minimalism. I also love black and white!

What inspires you to shoot skating differently to how we see it in the magazines?

Architecture and unconventional places!

You’ve also been shooting self-portrait skate photos right? Where did you get the idea and how did you do it?

I started this project back in 2011 as an experiment. I just wanted to shoot some skateboarding with my own look. It’s a project where architecture comes first. To my surprise, I was invited to art exhibitions, I won many awards and it opened a lot of doors for me. I was invited to galleries and institutions both in Brazil and in other countries like Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, France, Morocco, Jamaica and Japan. The equipment I used was a Hasselblad H4D with an 80mm lens, a 30mm fish eye and a wireless remote control.

Usually skaters go to a spot with a photographer – why the different approach?

This project is not about tricks but rather about a moving body versus architecture, so it was something I needed to do alone. It takes a great deal of research and I do not know other photographers who would understand what I had in mind.

What are the biggest challenges you face when shooting these self-portraits? 

The remote is a little delayed when I click, so I needed to think a few thousandths-of-a-second ahead to take the shot at the right time. This was a big headache!

What sort of photography do you shoot outside of skating?

I love shooting portraits and street photography. I also have another project called ’Autocollage’, where I transform myself into a collage using only photography. You can watch a short film about it here.

You’re involved in video work too… tell us about your latest film VPS #1?

This is a personal and independent project focused on skateboarding. It’s a series of portrait videos featuring skaters I identify with. The video is simple and there are no interviews. It’s produced in just one day with one camera, one lens and focuses only on lifestyle and behavior. The idea is to produce 12 films, one each month. You can watch the first episode here

What are your plans for the future?

I'm developing collages with my film photography negatives but it's still early stages and just an experiment. I want to make more movies and I enjoy doing commercial work as well. There’s also a book in the works.

Any advice for aspiring photographers, artists or skaters?

Just do what moves your heart and what you truly believe in. Find inspiration, but go your own way!

Want see more work from Fabiano? Check out his website.

Check out Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Gallery: 8 Action Sequences You Need To See

One of the biggest challenges for any adventure and action sports photographer; how to convey the motion of an athlete in a single static image. One solution is sequence photography, a technique in which a series of images are shot and then layered to show the athlete at different stages of successive motion. From sick flips to air acrobatics, we've put 8 of the best sequences you'll ever see into this gallery.

© Daniel Vojtech / Red Bull Illume

Feel inspired? Tag us on Facebook or Instagram to show us your sequence!

The adventure of urban ski shoots - Felix Rioux

"One of the maintenance guys saw us and instead of kicking us out, he was super stoked! He was a big X-Games fan and even offered to turn on the lights."

© Felix Rioux

What have you been up to lately?

I’ve been busy focusing on my photography career. Ever since I started photography, I always had other businesses that would take most of my time. In the 90’s it was a clothing brand and an events company, and then in the early 2000’s I co-founded D-Structure Proshop, which was the first 100% freeski shop at the time. After that it was iF3 (International Freeski Film Festival), which I sold about a year ago. All these projects would take 80% of my time and I never really got to properly develop my photography business. I also have a family now, and after spending the past 20 years mostly on the road, I’m happy to stay home and see them grow up. 

Have you been working on any adventure and action sports projects?

Last season I spent 10 days on an urban shoot in Quebec with skiers JF Houle, Emile Bergeron and Jules Bonnaire. They were shooting a mini film for the french clothing brand Picture Organic.

What were the best moments from the trip?

I think for me it was the session we did at the Chateau Frontenac slides. The set up was amazing and took place at dawn at a historical landmark. The guys had already done most of the set up days ahead working on the take off and landing. One of the maintenance guys saw us and instead of kicking us out, he was super stoked! He was a big X-Games fan and even offered to turn on the lights under the slide’s arches.

What are the most challenging aspects of these kind of shoots?

Definitely the cold, when it’s -20c celsius without the wind factor, it’s really hard to be focused and creative. You’re just trying to keep warm and your gear is not always working properly, especially lighting strobes. Then snow can get really hard and icy, which makes it difficult when shovelling.

Do you think your background as an architecture student influences the way you photograph urban environments?

Absolutely. I learned about composition and vanishing points when I studied architecture. It’s also where I got my style. I like symmetrical lines and making sure everything is nice and level. A few years ago I started shooting action with landscape/architecture panorama techniques. It consists of using a special panorama tripod head and shooting really tight on your subject, then shoot your overall composition before stitching the images in post. This gives you unique perspectives that your usual lenses can’t offer, you can shoot very high ISO without all the noise downfall and the final file can be printed in a super large format.

What do you prefer? Shooting in the city or shooting in the mountains?

I have to say both. The city gives you so much diverse material to shoot, while the mountains are such a peaceful and majestic environment. However, a lot more work, planning and energy goes into shooting in the great outdoors.

Does your camera set up change depending on whether it’s an urban or mountain shoot?

Since that shoot was in Quebec, I was able to load up my car with as much gear possible. I prefer having it easily available, instead of needing something specific and not having it with me. However, it’s quite different when going on a long distance trip. Weight and space is a big factor. I’ll bring mainly zoom lenses instead of all my prime lenses and more speedlights instead of bigger strobes. 

You do a lot of commercial work too, what kind of projects are you doing?

Yes, that is my main occupation now. I’m super lucky to be working in-house for m0851, a high-end lifestyle and fashion brand based in Montreal. I cover all their photo and video needs from studio work and social media to ad campaigns. It’s a part-time gig that has allowed me to open up a whole new style in my portfolio.  I still do sports work with brands like lululemon, TNF, Picture Organic plus national retail chains MEC and Sports Experts. I’ve also been doing quite a bit of architecture/design photography. 

How big of a role does commercial work play in your photography?

Pretty big, probably 90% of my time. Since I don’t spend half the year on the road anymore, I don’t get to shoot action sports and make a living from it like I used to. When I do, it’s more for my own pleasure than anything else and a chance to hang out with my friends.

What is an important lesson that photography has taught you?

To be a citizen of the world.

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

Find work as photo assistant. Learn from senior photographers about how they run their business. Then find your style. That’s something I wish I had done when I started out.

Like what you see? Check out the video from the urban shoot here, or find more of Felix’s work on his website and Instagram.

Images © Felix Rioux

Shooting board sports with Alex Papis

"The craziest thing was when Markus rode a line and triggered an avalanche. He almost got buried and lost his glove. Then Arthur released another avalanche trying to pick up the glove Markus lost before!"

© Alex Papis / Red Bull Illume

How have things been since entering the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016?

It was great to see my photos make it to the semifinals at Red Bull Illume. It showed me that my work is on a good level, but there was no impact on my work situation resulting from it. Times actually got pretty hard for me in the past two years. I had bad luck with the companies I worked for who either don’t exist anymore or just don’t have the money to afford a professional photographer. It’s also tough to find new clients in the board sport industry as the market is decreasing. Luckily there are new doors opening and I find myself working on different subjects nowadays, but I am still trying to stay in the action sports photography game because that’s where my heart and passion is.

You just got back from a snowboard shoot, how was that?

Yeah, I still keep a foot in that door and whenever I get the opportunity to go out and shoot with professional riders I grab my gear and go for it! I was shooting with Elias Elhardt for his next documentary movie alongside Arthur Longo and Markus Keller - three really amazing and talented riders. We went to the Dolomite mountain range in Italy. The move was pretty spontaneous as the snow conditions changed a lot and this was the best area to go at the time.

How was it shooting with those guys?

I knew the guys from before but shooting-wise I was only with Arthur some years back. There is always a big difference between shooting alongside filmers and going on photo-only missions. As this is a movie project, filming comes first and I capture what I can. It’s pretty challenging being in the right spot to shoot without being in the shot of the filmer - and there were three filmers at the same time!

But I think I got some really good shots that tell a decent story about this part of the trip.

Any funny or crazy stories from the trip?

Ha, yeah, a couple… Elias found this crazy, narrow gap between two huge rocks to ride through. The crack was about 20m long and the narrowest part was just two widths of a board. Super sketchy. Elias was going pretty fast to drop into a landing right after the exit. On another day we barely made it down from the mountain. At first Markus lost his phone at the end of a long shooting day. It took us about an hour to find it (thanks to a phone tracker App) and then Arthur set up a nice little bonfire so the filmers got all crazy and we ended up staying until it was completely dark. We had to find our way back without any lights. The craziest thing was when Markus rode a line and triggered an avalanche. He almost got buried and lost his glove. Then Arthur released another avalanche trying to pick up the glove Markus lost before! He grabbed it on the run with all the snow coming down behind him. Crazy dude!

You’re also planning a surf project, right? What’s the concept behind it?

Yes, that concept has been on my desk for two years and there is always something that keeps me from bringing it to life. I am planning on a surf trip, but specifically a boat trip with Europe-based surfers. The concept is to bring surfers from each generation on the trip to showcase how the sport has changed everyone’s approach to a professional career, especially here in Europe. My idea for such a trip came up with a surfer and friend I have known since he was born. He is Austrian but moved to France and became one of the most talented kids out there, winning competitions and starting to make his way to the main events. I began to think of the effort it takes nowadays to get to the top, and I want to know how it was and how it will be for the generations to come.

Where and when will the project be shot?

I am still trying to get things lined up. It is always hard to pick the right time window with guys who are doing contests around the world. I hope to do it in September - I have some good contacts but it still needs more preparation to pull it off. I want to keep it under the radar until it is for sure.

Is it a personal project? Any brands involved?

Yeah, I mean it started very small. I first just wanted to do a photo project but then the idea got bigger. Now there are more riders planned, at least two filmers and it looks like it is going to be a documentary-style project. Here I find myself in a completely new role like a director. This puts me in a position where I have to start looking for brands who want to back the project. I am still looking for partners which is not the easiest part nowadays. 

You shoot a lot of board sports, namely snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding. Does each one require its own approach or are there common rules?

The one common rule is there are no rules! Each sport works differently. The sports are different and every single shoot is different. I am usually not planning too far in advance because anything can change from one day to another; the destination, the weather, the riders. Actually, this surf project is the first time I put in more planning effort and along the way it has already changed a lot.

Do you have a favorite board sport you like to shoot? Why?

I love surfing so much because you can do it all year-round in any kind of environment. I moved to Portugal part-time to spend as much time as possible at and in the ocean. There is so much beauty and energy combined in this sport.

How did you get involved in surf photography? Austria isn’t known for its surf spots!

Yeah, it’s thanks to my Mom. She sent me to France to get better at speaking French when I was in school. (I was really bad in school!) She had friends there who owned a house close to the ocean - best holidays ever! 

If action sports photography has taught you one thing, what would it be?

Be prepared for everything! Adapt to the conditions that surround you and you will find your way!

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who want to work in this industry?

Its hard to live from this kind of photography. Just get out there and find inspiring, creative guys that rip with style! Know what your work is worth and don’t sell your soul! Always have a backup plan!

Any plans for the future?

Adapt to being a dad!

Want to see more from Alex? Check out his website and Instagram.

What to bring on a mountain bike shoot – Paris Gore

As a full-time MTB photographer, a lot of people ask me what I bring along for the shoot and it’s not a simple answer as it really depends where and what we are doing.

© Paris Gore

There are a lot of times where we have a truck with shuttle access and can hike in about anything to the filming location but for the example today; I’ll be going through what would come with me on an average mountain bike shoot where I would be riding along with the athlete which could end up being a 15-mile ride or more at times. 

Everything fits nicely into my Shimoda camera bag with a medium internal core. Having the right bag is super important to the day as it will make a huge difference to comfort and eventually could wear you down if it doesn’t fit properly. As a previous boy scout, I do like to be prepared and sometimes a little over. Safety is important to me and also not being the person who forgets all the food. A rain jacket in the mountains might save your life, along with a lighter and a small first aid kit. I don’t think many assume this job requires much more than basic photography skills, but to me; the photography is only a part of the job. For the set up below, this would be a bigger kit for a serious shoot. If the ride was longer or less demanding, I might ditch a few items. 

Here we go: 

  • Nikon D5
  • Nikon Lenses - 70-200mm f2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 14-24mm 2.8, 16mm fisheye 
  • Lens cleaning equipment (it gets dirty out there)
  • XQD cards and wallet
  • Spare Battery
  • Snacks (clif bars, shot blocks, trail mix, beef jerky, etc.) Pro tip - Don’t put bananas in your bag and don’t ask how I know this.
  • Camelbak Bladder
  • Bikes tools, pump, tube
  • Headlamp
  • SPOT Beacon
  • Basic first aid kit (larger kit if multiples nights)
  • Light rain jacket or shell  

If I was staying overnight somewhere, I would be packing a few more things but to keep things simple, this is what I would be taking for a day out on the trails. Remember, things happen fast in the mountains and always use your best judgement.

Let’s take it way back - how did you get started as a mountain bike photographer?

I got my start as a mountain bike photographer by actually doing both separately. I’ve always biked, raced and loved the adventure of riding. Around the age of 15 in High School I also got into photography and loved it. It took me well over a year to put the two together and once I did; it felt like a whole new beginning. From there I just took off shooting my buddies as much as possible.

How have you seen the field change/develop over the years?

I’ve been following the field of other photographers for a long time. Back in the 2008 era, there were only a few MTB photographers that were big names in the industry. I remember seeing other guys like Bruno Long and Reuben Krabbe starting their careers as well, before taking off in a big way. It’s a cool feeling to know you’re in that mix of the younger generation of photographers. 

You shoot a lot of high-profile events like Red Bull Rampage, the World Cup etc. How do you prepare for these?

Events like Rampage and World Cups are super physical on your body and take a lot to run around all day, so I took a new approach this year and started doing some more gym training. I think it helped but in the end, there’s only so much you can do. I also like to find other inspiration from F1 or surfing events because it’s shot in such a different way. Also knowing the event, tricks and riders really helps. It’s hard to come into one of these not knowing who can do what or how someone might look in a particular section of the course. 

What’s one lesson you’ve learned throughout your years shooting?

Being kind and skilled off the camera goes a long way in this world. You can be the best, but if you aren’t someone people want to be around then there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get as much work. Also, just being dialed at what you’re doing helps as well, not showing up with half dead batteries and no rain jacket might raise some eyebrows.

Any tips for aspiring photographers? 

When I was a young up and comer; it was hard to relate to the legends in MTB photography. It felt so far away to ever be at that level like Sterling Lorence (it still does). But if I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be that that however much you feel like a fish; those big fish out there were all little fish once in the same waters. They were all groms, they all fucked up, they were all broke at one point and were barely making a living from photography. The successful ones are where they are because they didn’t get discouraged and kept trying their hardest knowing that the reward would come one day. 

Like what you see? Head over to Paris' website and follow him on Instagram so you don't miss a beat!

Gallery: 7 Shots to Illuminate the Darkest of Nights

As an adventure and action sports photographer it pays not to be afraid of the dark. Night time provides a natural backdrop on which photographers can manipulate the light to create something truly epic. We have selected 7 nocturnal images to inspire those who can’t sleep and yearn for adventure.

© Jara Sijka / Red Bull Illume

Feel inspired? Tag us on Facebook or Instagram to show us your own night photography.

Kelvin Trautman's Arctic Expeditions

While being based in Cape Town, South Africa, adventure photographer Kelvin Trautman is no stranger to the Arctic regions and the polar circle. In 2017, he spent time in Svalbard, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and got closer to the North Pole than ever before. Read his fascinating take on working in the Arctic regions below...

© Kelvin Trautman

You’ve been in the Arctic for a few months for a few expeditions. How was that?

The Arctic is a place of such raw and magnificent beauty that in truth it's very hard to do justice to in words and images. It really is one of those places that needs to be seen and experienced first hand.

My take home sentiment from this time in the high northern latitudes though was that as raw and beautiful this wilderness is, it’s also extremely fragile and rapidly changing.

We know you’re big on environmentalism. Why is it important to share these expedition stories?

I truly believe we will only protect those things that we feel connected to. And there are few mediums more adept at invoking an emotional connection than photo and film. Under this guise I feel compelled to use my craft to tell stories of environmental and social importance. With my personal adventure sport background, I’ve been drawn to the narratives of sportsmen and woman turned activists and campaigners.

For the most part, the idea here is to use pioneering expeditions involving these adventure activists performing extreme physical feats as a way to put the spotlight (spark dialogue, connect, campaign for and against) on some of the planets most pressing environmental issues.

We imagine shooting in the Arctic is tough on body as well as gear. How do you stay “Arctic-Proof”?

Working in harsh and remote conditions like the polar regions, where the margins for error are very small, demands that you have the right gear and knowledge of the risks that the surroundings present. This may go without saying, but something I think is overlooked when proofing yourself here, is your mindset or approach. You really need to be comfortable with the idea of adaptability and resourcefulness - things are going to go wrong and break and you need to be ready and happy to change tack and fix the problem. In many ways this is the same approach that we need to adopt when dealing with environmental problems.

From all the places you visited in the Arctic and shot, what was your favorite and why?

I’m not much into favorites as it’s such an all encompassing word or concept but one of the stand out experiences from my time in the Arctic this year was a day spent with Narwhal scientists and Inuit fisherman in the narrow reaches of Eclipse Sound, high up in the Canadian Arctic. We were there filming a super pod of Narwhals. With a drone we could see and document the whales sparring with their tusks and feeding.

We estimated there were over a thousand animals, and knowing the worldwide population sits at a lowly fifty thousand - due in part to climate change related habitat destruction - made the spectacle even more precious. The footage captured that day forms part of a Sky News documentary, called Arctic Peril premiering on the 20th December.

We read about United Nations Patron for the Oceans and cold water swimmer Lewis Pugh biting your arm to climb out of the freezing Arctic waters on a recent expedition. Can you recount the story?

Lewis Pugh swims (in a speedo) in the freezing waters of the planets polar regions in order to urge world leaders to help protect these wildernesses. My role on these swimming expeditions is not only to take photos but also swim safety.

In July, Lewis did a 1 km swim up at 80˚ North, along the edge of the Arctic sea ice. We were 1200kms from the North Pole, and the water was -0.5˚C water. By the time Lewis had completed the swim distance, he had spent just over 20 minutes in the water. This was right at the edge of what he has done before, and you could see it in his body movements. His swim stroke was severely labored, and he hit the water with clawed, cramping hands.

As he came up to the back of the boat at the end of the swim I handed him the rope loop to put his hand through that would aid him to climb into the boat. He missed it completely. He screamed “get me in the boat”. His words were almost indecipherable, as his lips, mouth and tongue were numb. For the next few minutes I wrestled to get him out of the water - the small and awkward confines of our boat meant I was the only one that could help. We teetered on the edge for what seemed like an age, until Lewis, in desperation, used the only other means of aiding his exit, and that was with his teeth. He bit down into my forearm (luckily I had a drysuit on) and hauled himself up.

It worked, and he was bundled into the boat.

For someone from South Africa, you spend a whole lot of time in Arctic regions. Any plans to head back to the Arctic?

I live in Cape Town, and currently the city is going through the worst drought for over 300 years - the city may well run out of water. This is in no small part due to climate change. Having seen and documented the polar regions over the past few years, I have come to understand how these places are the proverbial canary in the goldmine when it comes to climate change - and what happens there will affect all of us, wherever we live. So yes, I have plans to head back to the Arctic, and soon.

Make sure to check out Kelvin Trautman's work on his website and give him a follow on Instagram to make sure you don't miss a shot from his upcoming work in the Arctic!

Red Bull Illume Announces European Indoor Exhibit Tour for 2018

The world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography is hitting Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic

© Robert Fritz

As part of its entirely new exhibit tour, Red Bull Illume is bringing the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography to premium SES retail outlets around Europe. The 55 finalist images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 will be displayed at 15 different European locations in stunning 4K resolution thanks to the Memento Smart Frame™, the most advanced Digital Smart Frames ever developed.

All of the exhibitions are free to the public and can be visited during the usual opening times of each individual venue. The first stop kicks off on January 02, 2018 at Q19 in Vienna and will be on the road until October 02, 2018, travelling through Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

Whether you’re a devout photography fan, or a shopaholic who's in the area, be sure to stop by and take in the world’s greatest adventure and action sports images. Check out the full tour schedule below; we’ll see you there!

  • Q19, Vienna (AT) 02.01.2018 – 12.01.2018
  • MAX.CENTER, Wels (AT) 15.01.2018 – 27.01.2018
  • WEBERZEILE, Ried im Innkreis (AT) 29.01.2018 – 10.02.2018
  • SILLPARK, Innsbruck (AT) 19.02.2018 – 03.03.2018
  • ZIMBAPARK, Bürs (AT) 05.03.2018 – 17.03.2018
  • EUROPARK, Salzburg (AT) 03.04.2018 – 14.04.2018
  • VARENA, Vöcklabruck (AT) 23.04.2018 – 05.05.2018
  • MURPARK, Graz (AT) 07.05.2018 – 19.05.2018
  • ATRIO, Villach (AT) 21.05.2018 – 02.06.2018
  • FISCHAPARK, Wiener Neustadt (AT) 04.06.2018 – 16.06.2018
  • CITYPARK, Ljubljana (SI) 18.06.2018 – 30.06.2018
  • CITYCENTER, Celje (SI) 02.07.2018 – 14.07.2018
  • EUROPARK, Maribor (SI) 16.07.2018 – 28.07.2018
  • HUMA ELEVEN, Vienna (AT) 20.08.2018 – 02.09.2018
  • EUROPARK, Prag (CZ) 15.10.2018 – 28.10.2018

 

 

"Passion is the only thing that will get you through the rough spots."

Jonathan Mehring is a name many skateboarders as well as Red Bull Illume fans will recognize. The theme behind Mehring's photography is often much more than just skateboarding: it’s a representation of spirit, mindset and instinct - all at the same time.

© Jonathan Mehring

First off, it’s been a while since we last spoke. How have you been?

I've been good man, been living in Brooklyn still but working and traveling a ton this fall. Can't complain a bit!

Working on any cool projects?

Mostly I've been doing commercial work lately, which is a nice change from the traditional editorial hustle. But it has still been a mix of both. I did a Volcom trip for Thrasher recently that was super fun. We did a traditional demo tour from Atlanta to Kansas City but traveled in their 1981 Wanderlodge RV which added a different flavor. It's in the latest issue. I've also been trying to shoot more personal work lately, a lot of street photography, which I love, but it's the most difficult type of photography out there in my opinion, so it's cool to give myself that challenge.

As a skateboarder yourself, how has skateboarding influenced your photography?

I've always been keen on freezing action moments. If there's no energy in a photo it seems less interesting to me for sure. I think that's what drew me to skating, in addition to the fact that I skated before shooting photos. I guess the main thing is that you always need is a frame of reference in skate photography, to show where someone is coming from and going to. Or at least imply it. It other types of photography that doesn't matter as much. That's why the skatepark story in everyone's hometown newspaper usually had a "guy in the sky" with no reference to height or difficulty. That kind of thing is pretty essential in action sports photography but may actually hinder you in other types. So it's been interesting, branching out and not necessarily needing to think that way to make a photo that makes sense.

You’ve often been praised for finding spots for photo shoots that others would miss. Is there a secret behind this skill?

Ha! I think there are two main factors. One was growing up in rural Virginia where there wasn't much to skate. We had to get creative and think outside the box. Also because I love to explore new areas and new things, when I follow that instinct, I end up in new and unusual places. I've found that nearly everywhere has spots to skate, maybe not too many, but there's always something. You just have to be willing to take a step into the unknown.

How important is location for a photoshoot? Are there any go-to locations you find yourself going back to for photos?

Location isn't everything, but it's a major factor. I get super inspired by good locations. If it's a strip mall in the IE or something it's probably not that cool looking no matter what the spot is. But never say never... I actually rarely go back to spots. In NYC I do because I live there but in other places not so much. NYC also looks so damn amazing that I don't mind repeating spots occasionally. I could go to the Bond St. gap again and again and not get tired of it.

How would you say your work differs from other skate photographers/more traditional skate photography?

Oh man, that's a tough one. I guess I take kind of a photojournalistic approach that most people probably don't do. I like to show the whole scene, so a lot of wider pulled back shots. I love sunrise photos... I find that all my favorite skate photos aren't lit so I try to limit my lighting as much as possible while still creating successful images. When I do light a shot, I try to do it in a cool way, or a subtle way, or something special about it. I try not to be too formulaic.

What’s one piece of gear you never leave your house without?  

Lately my Fuji X100F is always with me. For skate photography in particular, I'd say my 85mm 1.4 is an absolute must.

Any plans to release a new book following your Skate The World book?

I'd like to do another book with a bit narrower of a scope. The world is a big place. It would be cool to do one that just focuses on something smaller, like a single trip, or variations on a theme.

And last but not least, any advice for aspiring photographers?

Do it for the love. It's an uphill battle and passion is the only thing that will get you through the rough spots.

Make sure to follow Jonathan Mehring on Instagram and check out his website!

Azerbaijan has been Illuminated (Photo Gallery)

The Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour continues its journey around the world, this time stopping in Baku, Azerbaijan. With the breathtaking Heydar Aliyev Center as it's backdrop, the exhibit can be visited daily until January 15, 2018.

© Andrey Pronin / Red Bull Content Pool