Freezing Free Solo in Cape Town, South Africa

© Kelvin Trautman

Red Bull photographer Kelvin Trautman was handed an adrenaline-pumping assignment a few weeks ago; to document Matt Bush free soloing in and around the picturesque city of Cape Town in his native South Africa. We've got the backstory, including some stunning photographs. 

What was the shoot for?
"The shoot was commissioned by Red Bulletin and my brief was to document Matt Bush free soloing and performing some of his trademark "artistic movements" on some beautifully exposed features around the iconic Table Mountain in South Africa."

Matt Bush looks like an interesting character. How was it to shoot with him?
"Free soloing is a sporting discipline that demands a great mix of human traits, respect and humility, self awareness, courage, tenacity… and Matt has all of these in bucket loads. More so, Matt is a consummate professional. His approach to his sport is meticulous and he works extremely hard. For example, the prep that went into this shoot was huge and Matt was on hand to offer his help at every step. This synergy between athlete and creative is really important and makes working in these pressure environments that much more rewarding."

Sound challenging. What difficulties did you face?
"Aside from the obvious difficulties of shooting on exposed rock faces, the biggest challenge was to ask Matt to do retakes. It is gut-wrenching to ask someone to risk their life for a photo. Prior to the shoot Matt and I spoke a lot about this. I was acutely aware that during the shoot Matt was going to need the head space to focus on climbing rather than worrying about camera angles and crew. We scouted a myriad of different lines, trying to find something that had a balance of the wow factor but that wasn’t the most technically challenging."

Seems like a rewarding experience?
"Yes. I was reminded again on this shoot that if you are willing to put yourself in places that others are not prepared to or not capable of, you then give yourself a great chance at producing unique content."

What equipment did you use?
"On the wall, I predominately used a Nikon D4s and Nikon D800 camera body, Nikon 14-24mm, 24-70mm, 50mm, and 70-200mmm lenses. I loaded this glass into a series of lens cases which were strung to my Black Diamond climbing harness."

What’s next for you?
"I’m in the edit suite at home in Cape Town for the next month. It’s nice to be home for a while after a lengthy 7 week stint away shooting in Papua New Guinea, Japan and Iceland with The African Attachment (an independent production company I have teamed up with)."

For the feature piece on Matt's ascent, head over to Red Bulletin

The world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest is back and better than before with the addition of a new mobile category. Find all information here and mark Dec 1, 2015 on your calendars! That's when submissions open. 

Visit the Red Bull Illume Facebook page for regular updates.

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Shot in the Dark: Alessandro Belluscio

Skiing is too often associated with sunny blue skies and awesome white snow, says adventure and action sports photographer Alessandro Belluscio, who chose to take a radically different approach to doing a brand shoot in the snow. Time to check in on how he made magic happen!

© Alesandro Belluscio

The location was Prato Nevoso, a nice resort by the sea in the South Piedmont Region. And I had the honor to work with big names that made the history of Ski Racing like Giorgio Rocca, Kristian Ghedina, Daniela Ceccarelli and Paolo Dechiesa.

What setup and lighting did you use during the shoot?

To light the set, I opted for the Siros 800 L Outdoor Kit, one RFS 2.2, one Para 88 and a standard reflector. A very basic and simple setup. To make the shoot spicy, we were gifted a snowstorm and some real cold powder at -8°C. And I have to say I was able to complete the shooting with a single Siros battery.

After deciding the track and the angle of the turn, I placed two lights, one on the back right and one on the back left. The para 88 was on my left, inside the turn while I used the Siros with a normal reflector on the right as a backlight. Shooting on the snow is like shooting in a “white room.” The snow can reflect light better than a panel. The difficult aspect of this shooting was to keep the bounce under check to avoid drops in intensity.

During the shooting

The decision to work with a backlight was taken because the outfit were perfect for this light. A dark blue jacket at night on the snow can really be valorized by a backlight flash. If I'd only use one front flash, there would probably be a lot of uneven light, which would result in an overexposed area in the front (on the ground), right light on the subject (even if a little bit flat) and a dark – but not too much – background. Plus the white room of the spray of snow.

The skiers had to ski through the “Bron gate” like a racing track, and the first laps were perfect to take the right line. The HS mode was essential for this shooting. Modern skiers achieve a big acceleration during their turn, and the speed was at least 60km/h at the point where I was shooting. On icy slopes, the acceleration was even higher than on fresh snow, so I was probably lucky!

The slopes had the added effect of illuminating the night sky, but to be clear and safe, I also used the continuous LED light of the SIROS and I have to say it was a very useful plus to the shoot.

The effect of the snowflakes lit with a backlight was amazing, basically it was something like magic, and the skiers were super professional. They didn’t make mistakes during their runs, which meant a 100% focus on the shoots in a very "safe mode." Within a few runs, I was able to say “GOT IT!”.

Then after a few portraits, we finally celebrated the shoot with some beers at the White House.

I hope you enjoy the backstage, cheers!

Follow Alo on Facebook and check out more of his work on his website.

This article was originally published on broncolor.com

7 Snow Photographers You Need To Know About

The holidays are fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, and that really only means one thing: it's shred o'clock! To get you stoked for the rad times that are ahead, we've compiled a list of seven snow photographers you need to know about!

© Tim Kemple / Red Bull Illume

Scott Serfas

Chasing the boys. #BackcountrySnowboarding #AlaskaSnowboardGuides #ValdezAK

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Tim Kemple

Elliott Bernhagen

Gabe Rogel

Never stop snowing (or exploring). Japan. #sonyalpha #skiing #winter #pillowmania

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Lorenz Holder

Soon...

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Clark Fyans

Grant Gunderson

Got some snowshots we need to see? Use #redbullillume and tag us on Instagram!

The Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour Is Coming To Baku, Azerbaijan

The world’s greatest adventure and action sports photographs visit Baku for the first time ever.

© Red Bull Content Pool

The Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour continues its world tour and will be making a stop in Baku. True to the theme of illumination, the 55 finalist images of the Image Quest 2016 will be exhibited on incredible 2x2 meter lightboxes. Alongside the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography will be an additional 5 photos from the local National Mobile Contest. The winners of this category will be unveiled at the official Opening Night on December 19, 2017.

The exhibition will take place at the stunning Heydar Aliyev Center in the heart of Baku. Its elegant architecture is both a symbol of innovation, and a testament to the fascinating history and rich cultural heritage of the nation. Surrounded by towering skyscrapers, contemporary landmarks and the original medieval walls of the old city, the Heydar Aliyev Center is a truly unique venue.

The Baku tour stop promises to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The exhibition runs from December 19, 2017 to January 15, 2018 and will be open daily from 17.00 to 23.00. Admission is free to the public, so don’t miss out!

Shoot. Fail. Repeat. Succeed

Snowboarding beats office life, right? That's what Marc Gasch thought as well, making a quite drastic change from life as a lawyer to becoming adventure and action sports photographer, starting out with an analog reflex camera back in 1998 with a little help from his snowboarding friends. Nowadays, he shoots a lot of bikepacking adventures, so we decided to pick his brain on the topic.

© Marc Gasch

How did you get started in shooting adventure and action sports?

Well, it all happened around 1998, when I was working as a lawyer (yep) after finishing university, but it quickly bcame clear that I was not going to be sitting in an office for a long time. I was snowboarding all the time with my friends back then, and I had a reflex camera. My grandad was a photographer...so all the pieces just kind of came together and I decided that I had to make a change…

When it comes to bike packing adventures, what’s the biggest challenge when it comes to shooting?

I still shoot some snowboarding, but my focus has somehow shifted to bikes and more specifically gravel and bike packing. As the photographer for the XPDTN3 project, the main challenge is that those trips, even if some of them are short, are fully self-supported and self-documented. There are no support cars and no photographers on vans. I have to carry both my bike packing gear and also my photography gear, so the goal is to have a kit that is as light as possible.

3. How about challenges when it comes to packing?

I carry a lot of stuff to the destination, just in case, but once we set up “basecamp” in our first hotel,  before starting the bike trip, I choose only the gear necessary for the next 3 days on the bike.

This usually means I'll bring 1 pro camera (the Sony A7RII) + 1 extra backup P&S (Sony RX100IV) and a couple of lenses. The ones I use most are a wide angle and a 85 1.8mm.

Of course I also need to carry all chargers, batteries, cards, mics and accessories in my pack. Sometimes I move those to the bike packs to get some weight off of my back. A good backpack is key for this, and I normally try to get the smallest one possible. Right now, I'm using the GURU UL from the guys at F -Stop Gear.

What’s the coolest bike packing assignment you’ve been on, and why?

Hard to say, but Iceland and Israel have probably been two of my favorites. Everything just comes together in those places and you travel through some amazing landscapes and very remote areas. It's just pure nature!

You can check out Iceland here: xpdtn3.club
The trip through Israel can be experienced here: xpdtn3.club

What makes shooting bike packing different from other adventure sports?

I think it all comes down to the compromises you have to make when it comes to gear selection. With only one body and two lenses (for photo and video!), you definitely need to get more creative when it comes to composition and really work on the angles.

On some trips, one of the other riders help me carry the a drone for some aerial footage, but to be honest, video makes everything much more complicated! (hahaha).

You can check out a video I did in Galicia, Spain on YouTube.

What is one piece of gear you never leave home without?

A dust blower and the “Capture" clip from Peak Design, which lets me have my camera strapped to my backpack strap, so I don't have to stop all the time and get off from my bike to get photos. This makes for a smoother workflow and allows shooting on the go instead of having to stop the action and the crew every 10 minutes to take my backpack off my back in order to get some shots.

Any cool projects coming up?

All XPDTN3 trips are cool (can you tell I’m in charge of choosing the destinations? :-) and we are already working on a couple of trips in Asia for next spring, in 2 countries where I have never been before, so that’s always cool!

Any tips for starting photographers?

Shoot. Fail. Shoot. Fail. Shoot. Succeed. Non stop.

Check out more of Marc's work here.

Cabin Life: Behind the Shot

It's not your typical Red Bull Illume shot, but it just oozes with character and gives off some major good times vibes. While Harookz is known for his BIG action shots, he likes to take a step back from time to time and capture the moments off the bike.

© Harookz / Red Bull Illume

"As an action sports photographer, I’m naturally drawn to capturing ‘peak-action’ moments. It took some time during the early years of my career before realizing that my passion for mountain biking was more than just the action. The intricate little moments that took place before and after the actual riding played an equally important role in why I devoted my life to bikes."

"It was a classic summer day where we took full advantage of extended daylight hours. A lengthy grind to the peak followed by a ‘soul-shred’ descent with the boys helped us re-visit all of the reasons why we started mountain biking in the first place. As darkness approached, we reminisced the day’s highlights over ice cold beers in a cabin nestled on the coast of British Columbia."

"I stepped away from the cabin to take in the full scene and what I saw struck me immediately. There it was: best friends, bikes, and good times with no obligations, an organic moment and a feeling I strive to fill my life with."

To check out more of Harookz' work, head over to his website and make sure to follow him on Instagram!

From Snow to Sea: Catching up with Vernon Deck

Vernon Deck is the definition of a season-chaser. As much at home in the snow as he is on the open seas, he spends the summer months sailing around the world, while fulfilling his "regular" job as a photographer in the winter. We caught up with him to talk about what's been going on lately.

© Vernon Deck / Red Bull Illume

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

Life is good, 2017 has been another interesting year. The European winter was the worst that I've ever seen, almost no snow and much too warm but I still managed to shoot some great moments and keep my clients happy. Then in May I flew back to Australia to continue my mission to sail around the world in my 37ft sailboat “Lets Live”.

There's a popular saying “you cant change the weather”, well this is proving to be wrong. We have managed to change the weather and its having a pretty massive impact. I see it on both sides of the world, in the mountains and in the ocean.

I try to keep my footprint light and hope that my images will inspire at least a few people to go out and see our beautiful planet and think about their own impact on the world.

Right now I'm recovering from surgery. Last week I was on a photoshoot at Kitzsteinhorn in Austria and ended up breaking my collarbone badly. Back in Zurich they screwed me back together and I'll be fine in a few weeks.

How has Red Bull Illume influenced your career or life as a photographer?

Getting the invite to Chicago as a Red Bull Illume finalist was huge! Just being surrounded by all that talent, I mean the 55 best action sport photographers in the world, that's something! That alone gave me a confidence boost. Generally we fly under the radar, we go from shoot to shoot, images get used widely and the public see a great image but have no idea of who made it.

Red Bull Illume celebrates the photographers. I saw some very inspirational work in Chicago and had the opportunity to speak with some of the photographers and gain an insight into their work ethic and motivations. Obviously it doesn't hurt to be able to tell clients about this success.

What’s it like shooting for a brand with a special mission in mind versus what you would normally shoot? How different is the approach?

I am fortunate enough to have worked closely with Volcom for over a decade now. They give me a very loose brief and leave me pretty much total freedom creatively. This is amazing and I cant thank them enough for trusting me. It also means that I have to continually come up with ideas which in turn keeps everything fresh. I just trust my instincts on this.

I have other clients though that provide pretty exact storyboards for each shoot. They still want my input and personal style but need for example a very specific shot of a girl hiking through the snow at a 40 degree angle to me while looking past my left shoulder in order to portray the jacket well. Working to strict guidelines is very easy in a way as you can tick off images as you get them and be very efficient with your time.

How does your daily life influence your photography? We know you spend summers sailing around the world, so how does this impact your work?

Photography is my passion and I do it all the time, wether I'm getting paid or not. I shoot more photos in summer and dont sell any of them. For me life is all about balance. If I chase every job, compete for every contract and really make “success” my goal then I think I would very soon not enjoy photography anymore.

I feel if I can combine photography with my other passions then I will never tire of it. Sailing during summer, getting away from all the social media and hi-speed lifestyles really calms me down and at the same time regenerates within me the passion and energy needed to stay at the top of my game in winter. I find myself sailing along, its 35 degrees in the tropics and I'm thinking about this icefall drop I want to shoot next winter. Its a perfect balance for me.

What would you say is the coolest project you’ve worked on this year? Either personal or professional?

In early September I flew to southern Australia to join a large crew of Volcom riders at a ski resort called Falls Creek. A lot of prep work was done in advance and when we arrived there was a very cool feature waiting for us. I cant say too much more as Volcom will be rolling out the images internationally in an upcoming campaign. We were a crew of 16 and it was a pretty epic week! Such a mix of individuals, so talented, not just snowboarding, they were also making art, playing all sort of instruments and singing. We just had a blast! On top of all the fun though we created some amazing content that people the whole world over will see in the coming months. These are the jobs that I live and breath for!

What’s your current go-to setup for photography?

I have been using Canon products since 1997. Currently I use a 5D lll with prime and zoom lenses from 15mm through to 400mm. I have a bunch of Elinchrom flash gear that I haven't used in about 4 years.

Canon and Nikon, the two major brands for the last 20 years have in my opinion been left in the dust though. I feel like for 80% of my work now I could literally have a couple of Go-Pros, a DJI Mavic and my new iPhone and that would be fine.

This of course also has to do with the fact that a good proportion of my work these days is really for online use only. The actual quality of the image is slowly taking a backseat to the ability to shoot anytime, anywhere and at the drop of a hat. I don't think the big prime lenses will go away but I just might be carrying them a bit less which my knees will appreciate.

What’s one piece of gear you won’t leave your house without?

These days its my iPhone! I did a trip to Brazil last year and took all my normal 30kgs of equipment. Right before I left I brought an iPhone 7+, it has 2 camera/lenses, shoots 10 frames per second, films 4k and super slomo. During the whole trip I hardly used my Canon gear. Obviously in some situations, bad/low light for example the iPhone cant compare to the Canon but in other situations the iphone was way better.

In Rio, where crime is very high, I felt much safer shooting with a iPhone rather than a huge Canon with that white lens that everyone know costs many thousands of dollars.

GoPro and DJI both make it possible to shoot RAW/DNG format now and I'm sure the next iPhone will have that capability too.

Any tips for aspiring photographers?

If you're read this far you will realize that the entry into this profession is much easier than back when I started. A reasonable setup will cost you about the same as 1 decent Canon prime lens. So the best tip I can give is to go and use that cheap amazing equipment as much as you can. When everyone has access then it comes down to how you use it. Most people are not prepared to lie in the mud or climb a tree to get a different angle. Be that person! Get dirty, the gear is all waterproof now anyway.

And last but not least, will we see you at the next Red Bull Illume?

I really hope so! One of the things I noticed in Chicago was that many photographers there had shot their images specifically for the Illume competition. It's such a huge event that it makes sense to devote part of your year to coming up with a concept and spending time and money to create those images.

This is a strategy that I choose not to take. Its like anything, when everyone starts doing it the results will all start to look the same. In Chicago there were quite a few images that were totally amazing but in reality completely posed. The photographers would find amazing locations and then figure out what element of sport they could add to change it from a great landscape image into an image that would qualify it as Action Sport.

I'll keep shooting real action and submit my best images and hope that Red Bull appreciates that. It would really be an honor for me to be chosen as a finalist in the next edition of the Red Bull Illume!

To see more of Vernon's work, check out his website, follow him on Instagram and watch him travel around the world on his YouTube channel!

In A Flash: How to Shoot a Hike & Fly Adventure

For our newest In A Flash installment, we caught up with Czech paragliding photographer Vitek Ludvik, who shows you some tips on how to get the most out of your next adventure shoot. While the tips focus on hike&fly, they're usable for a lot of adventure photography missions!

While hike & fly photographers like Vitek Ludvik conquer hundreds of metres of altitude just to get the shot, both on the ground and in the air, these tips carry over to just about any type of adventure sports photography, whether trail running, bike trekking, climbing and more.

To see some epic results and to get some cool behind the scenes, make sure to check out the gallery below.

Got some epic adventure shots? Use #InAFlash and make sure to tag us on Instagram to show us your best work.

 

 

National Mobile Contest Launches in Azerbaijan

Want your photo exhibited side by side with some of the greatest adventure and action sports photographers in the world? If you're in Azerbaijan, here's your chance!

With the world's greatest adventure and action sports exhibition opening in Baku, Azerbaijan later this year, the National Mobile Contest has kicked off.

Focusing on mobile submissions ONLY, the contest aims to bring the talent of the best smartphone photographer forward. Mobile snappers are given the opportunity to showcase their talent by entering their best mobile phone images for a chance to see their photos join the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour in Azerbaijan, printed on a 2x2m display and displayed in the middle of Baku, at the Heydar Aliyev Center.

The Azerbaijani National Mobile Contest will run until November 22nd, after which the winners will be chosen by a panel of esteemed judges, including Russian Red Bull Illume Category Winner Denis Klero.

For all of the information about the National Mobile Contest, head over here!

Do that D.A.N.C.E!

Thinh "Little Shao" Souvannarath isn't exactly a photographer you would associate with adventure sports. He doesn't chase the eternal sunlight of the Nordics or travel to Iceland to nail a surf shot. His playground is the street, no matter whether London, Paris, Beijing, Tokyo or New York; if there's a break scene in the city, Little Shao is less than two steps away! And we've gotta say: if we're talking action, he definitely shows it in his photos!

© Little Shao

It’s been a while since we last spoke. How are you doing?

I'm doing well, still traveling a lot, working on so many different and various project but having mad fun doing it...

We can attest to this. Just follow Little Shao's Instagram and you can travel the world with him!

Let’s go back to Chicago for a second. How was it seeing your photo on the lightboxes as part of the Top 55?

It was awesome! Just when I think about these 3 days where we were all together there in Chicago, sharing this amazing experience in this amazing city...that brings me some serious goosebumps. That feeling when you get picked out of 40000 pictures is really dope, especially being there with some of the best photographers in the world, just having fun..

You guys did amazing! The whole organization and all of the activities were on point...One of the best experiences of my life as a photographer...Even better than having your own exhibition actually!!

What have you been working on since the Winner Award Ceremony in Chicago?

I've been doing lots of advertising campaigns for sports brands, been traveling to lots of worlwide dance events, music events, following artists on a tour, lifestyle and fashion photoshoots for sports brands, fashion shows, portraits etc...I'm keeping busy!

Has Red Bull Illume changed your perspective on photography in any way? Has anything changed?

Yes... getting closer to the nature...

Check out some of the shots below and you'll see what he means!

Already planning anything for the next edition of Red Bull Illume?

I'm still thinking of it, but for sure I will dedicate some time for it. I really wanna be part of it again, lol. If I don't, I will quit photography ahahah.

Any tips for aspiring photographers?

Just keep trying to be creative, keep pushing the limits of what has been done before and you might come up with something that actually hasn't been done before.

Will we see you again for the next Red Bull Illume?

YESSSSSSS!

Who should we catch up with next? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram!

Living the nomadic life!

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2013 and 2016 Finalist Dave Lehl recently made some pretty drastic changes in his life, so we figured we'd catch up with him to talk about life since Chicago.

© Dave Lehl / Red Bull Illume

It’s been a while since we last spoke. How have you been?

It's been a little bit of a wild ride lately, but things are going well!  

Has Red Bull Illume been an influence in the past year or so for you? Have you started thinking about photography differently, for example?

Oh, absolutely. The level of ingenuity, talent, and drive that went into all of the photos from last year's Red Bull Illume is hugely inspiring as well as crazy intimidating.

Every time I'm working on a photo I'm thinking in the back of my head, "Is this going to be enough to make it into the finals again?"  but I can never answer that question. The game has been upped so much that I'm always trying to think 3 or 4 steps ahead, but I never know if it's enough to compete with everyone else.

We understand you’ve moved into a van and are now living life on the road. How do you manage that as a photographer?

It's true. My girlfriend and I moved our lives and careers into a 38 foot (11,5 meters for all you metric users) travel trailer in June and have been living the nomadic life since then. We've got a toy hauler type trailer, which means that it's got a garage area in the back which we've turned into our studios. She's a jeweler and has her work area in one side of the garage area and I've got my desk and computer on the other.

As far as shooting, it's been awesome. I was in a bit of a creative rut back in Denver.  Once we hit the road, the new places we went and the people we met helped reignite my photographic passion.  I've shot more in the last 3 months than I did in the last year and a half in Denver.  Not only am I out shooting more but I'm meeting with brands and advertising agencies in all of the major cities that we're going to in order to get on their radar for future projects and campaigns.  There's no better marketing for yourself than face time.

What do you do if you need a studio for example?

That's one of the beautiful things about being an action photographer, I'm essentially a location shooter so luckily I don't need a studio too often. I have friends in or near most of the places we've posted  up, or at least a friend of a friend who can help with location help. If I do need a studio I just jump on Google and do a search and have a list of studios for rent nearby.

Has life on the road changed the gear you carry with you?

Coming from the snowboard industry, I could usually only shoot with what I could fit on the back of my snowmobile, so I learned a lot of tricks to make a little gear go a long way.  I've typically done my best to carry only what I absolutely need, so I've always run a fairly bare-bones setup.  

What’s your go-to setup right now?

I've shot Canon for the past 20 years but just recently Sony has been gracious enough to let me try out a couple different camera setups and I think I'm going to make the switch to Sony soon.  I've been trying out the Sony A9 for a few days now and it's pretty much the perfect camera! I'm hooked! 

For lighting I've been using Elinchrom for the last 12 years and couldn't be happier. I still use my 12 year old Ranger RX packs on every shoot and they've only ever been to the shop once. They've just released a new 1200 w/s flash system that I can't wait to get my hands on that will probably replace my Ranger packs.

Other than those, the only other piece of equipment that I use daily is my Mountainsmith Parralax pack, which I think is pretty much the perfect photo bag. They're a smaller company out of Colorado who make an amazing product and take photo bags very seriously.

Any cool projects you’re currently working on?

I keep a folder of photo ideas and concepts that I add to semi-regularly and dig into for inspiration.  It's on my list of things to do tomorrow to dig through the folder, find an idea to commit to, and contact an athlete here in Portland to make it happen with. Ben Raybourn lives here and is one of my favorite skateboarders, so I'm going to try to reach out to him in hopes of setting something up. Fingers crossed! 

Any advice for aspiring photographers?

In general my biggest advice to aspiring photographers is to assist! Although I studied photography in school, I learned everything I know about shooting from assisting other professionals! It's not always glamorous and you'll mop a lot of floors, but it pays off exponentially in the skills you learn. And also in this day and age it's insane not to take advantage of online tutorials. I'm not saying that it'll replace an actual photography degree from a reputable institution, but there are sooooo many amazing educational sites out there and up-and-comers should be taking advantage of them. I learned everything I know about photoshop from www.phlearn.com. Thanks, Aaron Nace!

Check out more of Dave's work by heading over to his website and giving him a follow on Instagram!