From the backcountry to the streets of the Six

Scott Serfas might just be the most well-known Canadian snowboard photographer out there. He took to the streets of Toronto, a.k.a. the Six, during the recent Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour Stop to show some love to the urban streets.

© Scott Serfas

What are some differences/similarities to shooting sport in the mountains vs urban streets? 

There are a lot of differences between shooting in the mountains versus shooting in the streets, but luckily for me, I grew up shooting skateboarding, so I’m quite comfortable with both.

In the streets, at times you have much more time to set up a shot and think more about placing artificial lighting to create dramatic effects.

On the other hand, in the case of shooting photos that will attract issues with the police or security guards you're going to want to set up your lighting plan ahead of time, metering everything offsite, so all you will need to do is drop the lights into place and shoot.

Or like in this case (the photo of Drew jumping gap) you will need to choose the right time of day to shoot all natural light. If that is not a possibility, then you will have to choose an angle depending on light. In the mountains, you're solely relying on what Mother Nature gives you. You're likely working with natural light, so choosing a location and time of day will be more crucial.

How did you shoot the street spots? (lighting, settings etc)

This particular shoot was a more run and gun style of shoot, so I would work around the existing light. Some locations and obstacles worked really well and others bombed.

On a normal day I would have either brought a few lights to help or shot things at a different time of day.

What’s the hardest part of shooting with a pro athlete?

There are three things that come to mind working with a professional athlete.

One, they are professional, so you likely won’t have their talent to blame when you make mistakes.

Two, because they are pro, your subject will likely have a large bag of tricks and will be able to preform the proper trick that looks better from the angle you choose to shoot from.

And three, one of the more difficult things manage as a photographer, likely they will be trying something so difficult that it becomes a “one and done” shoot. This means they will do it once, stick it and leave. So that means you have once chance to get the shot.

For me, shooting a one and done photo adds so much stress to the shoot.

Want to see more Scott Serfas shots? Head over to his website and give him a follow on Instagram!

Read the latest stories

Emerging Photographer: Dasha Nosova

She may have just made Red Bull Illume history as the first monthly winner of the new Best of Instagram by SanDisk Category, but the success of Dasha Nosova has been building for some time. We spoke to Dasha to find out more about the person behind the pictures and for any photographers out there looking for inspiration, this is a must read!

© Dasha Nosova

Give us a small intro about yourself – who’s the person behind the pictures?

I’ve been living in Moscow, Russia all my life, but I was born in Kazakhstan. I mostly shoot in the US or Europe because the industry and all the right people are there. Whenever I’m in Moscow I either hang with my friends and just rest in between trips, or I shoot some random stuff if I’m the city for longer than a week. Sometimes I don’t even take my camera out the backpack when I’m home. That’s weird. Lack of inspiration, I guess.

So, you just won the Best of Instagram Category in February, how does that feel?

I’m really excited that I have reserved my spot in the finals! I’m now looking forward to submitting my photos to other categories in May, to test them against the judges as well.

Do you use Instagram for your career, or more to have fun and share experiences?

I’d say my Instagram account is a mix of everything. It’s obviously made for fun first and to show all the beautiful locations I get to travel to. I don’t mind posting photos of myself and sharing stories of my friends partying, though I’m pretty selective with what I post.

You made the top 275 of Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 at the age of 23, what impact did that have?

Well, it didn’t make me instafamous or anything but it sure did give me some needed motivation to keep doing what I do and gave me a better feeling of what judges are looking for. Also, having a photo printed in the Red Bull Illume book alongside other 274 amazing images simply made me happy. Some friends of mine and people who I didn’t even know would tag me in their stories or send me photos of themselves with the book every once in a while, which was pretty fun.

How did it feel taking on so many established adventure and action sports photographers at such a young age, were you nervous?

I didn’t really stress about other photographers’ submissions. I mean, I expected all those photos to be insane so I just wanted to see how people from a non-snowboard industry would react to my work. Also, I almost blew the submission deadline. That was ridiculous actually. I was on a trip in the mountains when I got a phone call and the guy said ‘Hey Dasha, we saw that you’ve signed up but we don’t see anything submitted from you. And just for your information, we extended the deadline for another 12 hours’. Of course, that was the first thing I did when I got back down to the hotel! I wasn’t sure if any of my photos would make it through, especially when I made a selection so chaotically, but somehow one of them did.

What advice would you give to young photographers that are thinking about entering the new Emerging Category?

Don’t compare your work to other people’s.

From your experience, would you recommend the Image Quest 2019 to young photographers as a way to get noticed?

For sure. Starting with motivation and inspiration that you would get from taking part in this, then some social media hype, and ending with a possible exhibition traveling around the world is all together a great exposure and experience.

Did you choose snowboarding or did snowboarding choose you?

Good question. I’ve never been asked about snowboarding this way. On the one hand, it’s me because I was studying at university and was trying to go snowboard once a month and eventually I escaped and combined snowboarding with photography which led into having a job as an action sports photographer. On the other hand, I didn’t know snowboarding existed until I was 16 years old or so. I quit playing tennis and fell in love with snowboarding after randomly watching some of the snowboard movies and magazines and actually trying to ride down the hill outside of Moscow.

Are you excited to see women making big moves in the sport, both in front of and behind the camera?

Always! Especially in front of the camera. The girls are seeending it these days. So much progress within this winter season, it’s crazy!

Describe a typical day shooting…

I’m gonna describe one of the days from our trip last week; Landed in Sochi, Russia, took a car and drove it across the border to Abkhazia at 7am, just over 2 hours later we were at the lake at the bottom of the mountain, then we got picked up by two sleds where we had another 18km ride deep into the mountains, reached the base at around 12pm. After lunch, we grabbed our snowshoes/splitboards and went up to explore the mountain, got a couple shots and rode back down to the base at 6PM. Then we made a stove, ate dinner, went to bed. We had no hot water due to low water level in the river the whole time we were there so that was quite a challenge. We were seriously in the middle of nowhere with no phone service for 5 days, but I loved it!

See more from Dasha.. follow her on Instagram!

Want to join her in the finals? Submit to Best of Instagram by SanDisk

February Best of Instagram by SanDisk Winner Announced!

The first month of the new category is in the books, the community has voted and we are more than happy to announce the winner: Dasha Nosova! Dasha tells us everything about her shot, and what it means to be the first of the 55 Finalist Images of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest!

© Dasha Nosova / Red Bull Illume

While it’s quite the honor, it’s no surprise for the talented photographer from Moscow, Russia, who focuses mostly on snowboarding. Dasha´s image is now guaranteed to be one of the 55 finalist images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019, and she will receive an invitation to the Winner Award Ceremony. She also has the chance to become the category winner and to win the overall contest with this very image.

Check out Dasha's winning image on Instagram:

www.instagram.com/dashanosova

About the shot:

“We traveled to Folgefonna, Norway for some summer snowboarding, which is kind of a tradition for many of us. That summer it was raining a lot. We were there for seven days and it rained for five days straight, so we basically only had the last two days to shoot anything and just one day to make this jump session happen. 

“This shot was taken during a short one or two-minute window when some light finally broke through the clouds. It was around 11:30pm which is sunset time at this time of year in Norway, so I set up a flash behind the jump to make the rider really pop. Orange and pink skies are pretty typical when shooting at this location, so in the end I was pretty excited to get more of a unique look with the dark clouds in the background. I’m thankful for the stormy weather, and to the guys for still wanting to hit the jump!”

The first month of this category was a success and the new concept is a total hit – there’s already so much incredible stuff to see. From over 3,500 submissions, 25 amazing images were chosen by the Red Bull Illume internal judging panel – including photos shot just a few days before being submitted. See the full shortlist right here!

Submissions for next month begin tomorrow, March 1, 2019 at noon (CET), and the submission phase will last two weeks, followed by a one week voting period.

Want to join Dasha as one of the five monthly winners of the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category? Make sure to submit your most-gramworthy moments to the category by simply tagging @redbullillume and #rbi19submission on your post

The New Red Bull Illume Best of Instagram by SanDisk Category Starts Today!

Submit your most gram-worthy adventure and action sports images on Instagram by tagging @redbullillume and #rbi19submission now!

Photographer: Corey Wilson Red Bull Illume 2016 Category: Spirit Athlete: Mick Fanning Location: O'ahu, Hawaii, USA

Photographer: Corey Wilson Red Bull Illume 2016 Category: Spirit Athlete: Mick Fanning Location: O'ahu, Hawaii, USA

Red Bull Illume, the world´s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest, returns for a fifth edition with the entirely new Best of Instagram by SanDisk category which starts today! This category is for photographers most gram-worthy moments of show-stopping adventure and action sports submitted on Instagram. This category begins on February 1, 2019 which is three months earlier than the submission phase for the main contest and each month a winner will be chosen by the community. However, and this is important, the category is an essential part of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 and is not separate to the main contest.

From February to June 2019, photographers can submit their images within the first two weeks of each month, from noon on the 1st until noon on the 14th (CET). They only need to tag @redbullillume and use the hashtag #rbi19submission in the caption on their Instagram post. After the submission phase a shortlist of 25 images will enter the public vote (link to page) which is open from noon on the 15th until noon on the 22nd (CET) of each month. The monthly winner will be announced at the end of the month.

Best of Instagram by SanDisk is considered as an official Image Quest 2019 category; the five monthly winning images will automatically qualify as one of the 55 finalist images of the overall contest and will be on display at the Exhibit Tour. Winning photographers will also be invited to the Winner Award Ceremony at the end of November 2019 and have the chance to become the category winner as well as the overall winner of Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019.

Remember, Best of Instagram by SanDisk means exactly that; the Best of Instagram.  If a photographer has a great image that’s not best suited to the Instagram category, no problem. From May 1 until July 31, 2019 this image can be submitted to the main contest with 10 other categories that make up the Image Quest 2019.

So, whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer it’s time to submit your images!

Make sure to tag @redbullillume and #rbi19submission to enter!

Red Bull Illume is back! And it’s easier than ever to enter

Red Bull Illume begins again – the contest that was already at the pinnacle of adventure and action sports photography is taking things even higher.

© Chris Burkard / Red Bull Illume

Good news, photography fans: Red Bull Illume returns – and it’s better than ever.  The adventure and action sports imagery contest has evolved – but it’s still the ultimate window into the world of outdoor athletes and the incredible lives of those who document them.

Two incredible new submission categories
There’s two great new categories (yes, including one for video) that bring new challenges to image creators everywhere – and inviting a whole new world of incredible action into the Red Bull Illume ecosystem. The next new category brings some of the best news – it’s easier than ever to enter! For the new Instagram by SanDisk category, with just two tags - @redbullillume and #rbi19submission -on your most gram-worth shots, you’re in – it’s that easy. Learn more here – and start submitting your best Insta stuff ASAP!

Submissions start May 1 – but Instagram by SanDisk starts sooner

For the general contest, the submission period opens on May 1, and ends July 31. As in years past, just register here at redbullillume.com to submit your images for the contest. But for the contest category Best of Instagram by SanDisk, you can start tagging and submitting as soon as February 1 – more on that here.

New Partners arrive, good friends return

A contest of this scale simply wouldn’t be possible without some help from our friends – we’re happy to say that Sonyis on board as a major sponsor, specifically for the Innovation by Sony category – as well SanDisk standing strongly behind the Instagram by SanDisk category.

Other sponsors include Skylum – producers of next-generation photo-editing software – and photography accessory and apparel brand COOPH.

The categories of competition

One of the defining marks that set Red Bull Illume apart as a photo contest was the unique categories for submission. These carefully chosen themes helped shape the atmosphere of the contest, challenged photographers, and helped judges narrow down their selections from thousands of incredible images.

2019 Categories

  • Creative
  • Energy
  • Innovation by Sony
  • Playground
  • Wings
  • Spirit
  • Masterpiece
  • Moving Images
  • Instagram by SanDisk
  • Raw
  • Emerging

A quick note: Raw is a category for images is aptly named after industry term for files ‘straight out of camera’ – RAW. Distilling the requirements means no post-processing – so it’s all about it getting the shot, in camera. Composition, exposure, timing. How good can you get?

The Emerging category is something we’re particularly excited about – it’s for content creators aged 25 and under, who we believe bring a fresh new look to photography and imaging.

Red Bull Illume – now every two years & global exhibitions

2019 marks the fifth edition of the contest, which began in 2006. We’re happy to announce that Red Bull Illume will now happen a little more regularly – with submission phases opening up every other year, with exhibition years following. Exhibitions will be more global than ever before, with three tours running in parallel, including both the famous nighttime outdoor exhibitions, and the new indoor exhibitions – all touching down in capitals and cultural hubs worldwide.

The best Red Bull Illume yet

With all these changes – plus all the stunning images Red Bull Illume photographers have been shooting over the last 2.5 years – we’re absolutely confident this will be the best Red Bull Illume yet. So, don’t waste any time – start shooting and gathering your images for submission now – and maybe drop a couple into the Best of Instagram category right away!

For up-to-date information on the Best of Instagram, make sure you're following Red Bull Illume!

Infographic: Your guide to Red Bull Illume 2019!

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest is back for more! With new categories, new submission dates and more. To help you keep up, we have put everything you need to know in 2019 into one handy infographic!

For up to the minute updates - follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Youtube!

Video Teaser: Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019

Red Bull Illume is back! The world's greatest adventure and actions sports imagery contest returns in 2019 for a 5th edition... and this one is set to be better than ever!

In this video we introduce to you what’s new, what’s returning and how to enter the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019!

We are social! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Youtube!

Gallery: 9 Ice Cold Images from Red Bull Illume History

Shooting epic photography in icy conditions is challenging, but that makes it even more rewarding. Here's 9 of the most stunning ice images from Red Bull Illume history that show you why!

© Kirsten Quist / Red Bull Illume

Shooting epic photography in icy conditions can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding jobs in all of adventure and action sports. Whether you’re in an ice cave, or climbing the north face of a mountain, it’s definitely not an activity for the sun chasers among us. Ice formations and landscapes, however, provide one of the purest aesthetics in photography. Add to this a human aspect, and suddenly you have a powerful visual metaphor of the relationship between people and nature. So, find a warm space, get comfortable, and enjoy this gallery of 9 of the most stunning ice images from Red Bull Illume history!

Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the 2019 Image Quest!

A new year, a new Red Bull Illume!

A new year is upon us – and this new year brings a lot of change to the most respected Image Quest in the adventure and action sports world.

Red Bull Illume 2013: Morgan Maassen, Lifestyle category winner

© Morgan Maassen / Red Bull Illume

The first Red Bull Illume edition happened in 2006 – and while it’s just over a decade ago, it’s safe to say the world of photography has changed significantly in that time. How? Let’s talk about it.

The first ‘digital’ photo contest

The first Red Bull Illume that spread across 2006 and 2007 was a smashing success – largely thanks a revolution in print-quality digital photography. The ability to shoot practically unlimited amounts of images with no concern for the amount of film to develop brought down the cost and difficulty of photography. This meant that adventure and action sports – typically happening in far away or difficult to access places, with the key moment only happening for an instant – saw a flood of incredible images from established photographers, and new ones.  While images shot on film were (and still are) by all means allowed, the digital revolution played no small part in the number of images taken and shared – and seen. Why? Because in 2007, the smartphone appeared – ushering in a totally new era of media consumption.

A new standard set, a global audience

Coupled with an explosion of interest in adventure and action sports, Red Bull Illume quickly gained notoriety as the place to see incredible images. The number of submissions grew ever higher, and so did the standards – to make it as a finalist, an image had to be not great, but unforgettable. The unique ten-category format gave images the opportunity to uniquely stand out from other similarly fantastic images – and what quickly became clear at the global exhibit tours was that people couldn’t get enough of great photography.

The ultimate career Launchpad

For young, aspiring photographers looking to make their name in an increasingly competitive industry, Red Bull Illume became a take-off point – finalist images caught the eyes of photo editors and marketing managers everywhere. Surf photographer Chris Burkard’s winning image from 2010, entitled ‘The Perfect Day’, established him as one of the most widely-known surf photographers on the planet.

Working for the photos

In 2013, a sharp eye would notice a slight shift in the best photos: rather than submitting their best shots from being at the right place at the right time, photographers were going out to shoot specifically for the contest. It was in this edition that we saw the first winning image from German photographer Lorenz Holder, whose images are notable for the amount of research and work that goes into making them happen. With an eye for finding unique landmarks to frame his action, plenty of planning, and some patience he’s managed to take home top honors for the last two contests in 2013 and 2016.

Bigger, better, broader

Like the art of creating images, Red Bull Illume has done nothing other than evolve. As the numbers of photos being submitted grew, so did the contest change. In 2016, an 11th category was added, in fitting with the times: the mobile category. This category is for shots taken only on a phone, challenging photographers to think beyond their equipment and truly get to the photo itself. As a result, the fourth edition saw a record 34,624 breathtaking images submitted by 5,646 photographers from 120 countries.

2019 will mark the fifth edition of the contest, and after a three-year break, we can’t wait to see what images are out there simply waiting to be seen. And in the spirit of evolution, this year’s contest will bring some unique new challenges. Exactly what? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the 2019 Image Quest!

Gallery: 12 Mountain Sports Images That Will Light Up LUMEN!

To celebrate the opening of an exhibition of the world’s greatest mountain sports photography from the four previous editions of Red Bull Illume at the brand-new LUMEN - Museum of Mountain Photography, we wanted to give you a little teaser of what visitors will see.

© Christian Pondella / Red Bull Illume

So here we present a selection of 12 of the images that will be lighting up the ‘Adrenaline Room’ for the next three years! The museum is now open, so get your adventure gear out and meet us at the peak to see the rest of the exhibition set against the incredible backdrop of the Alps!

Red Bull Illume enlightens the new LUMEN - Museum of Mountain Photography with a permanent exhibition

The new partnership of Red Bull Illume and LUMEN will include the opening of a permanent exhibition to display the world´s greatest mountain sports photography from all four previous editions of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest.

Mountain life is something deeply ingrained in human history. For hundreds of years, men and women have tried to tell the story of this ever-changing landscape by capturing light through photography; a story in which adventure and action sports photography has played a large part. Now this story has a home; LUMEN – the Museum of Mountain Photography which opens its doors on December 20, 2018. On this note, Red Bull Illume, the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography contest is delighted to announce its new partnership with the LUMEN Museum.

Located on the top of Mount Kronplatz-Plan de Corones at an altitude of 2,275m, the Lumen Museum lies in the heart of the South Tyrolean Alps and the Italian Dolomites. The legendary Kronplatz offers 119 kilometers of ski slopes, attracting thousands of visitors every day during the winter season. In summer, the resort transforms into a colorful paradise for mountain bikers and hiking enthusiasts. Best of all, LUMEN is perfectly located next to the Messner Mountain Museum, just a few hundred meters away on a neighboring peak.

The museum will showcase a range of stunning mountain photography from different perspectives such as alpinism, tourism, politics, spirituality and history. Visitors of the museum will be treated to a captivating exhibition space which spans the past, present and future of mountain photography. All of this is set against the incredible backdrop of the Alps and the museum’s stunning architecture.

The new partnership of Red Bull Illume and LUMEN will include the opening of a permanent exhibition to display the world's greatest mountain sports photography from all four previous editions of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest. This unique exhibit will be found in the museum’s mind blowing ‘Adrenaline Room’. In total, around 50 images and videos will be displayed on lightboxes and screens, providing an interactive digital experience that is both visual and audible. The exhibition will run for an initial three years and guarantees an unforgettable visit to a truly innovative exhibition space.

The LUMEN Museum at an enormous 1,800m2 in size will also act as an event venue perfect for conferences, product launch events, seminars or workshops. Additionally, visitors can dine in the AlpiNN Mountain Restaurant with mouth-watering cuisine by Three-Michelin-Star legend Norbert Niederkofler. Sound good? Then get your adventure gear out and join Red Bull Illume at the LUMEN Museum of Mountain Photography! We’ll see you at the peak for true enlightenment! 

More information on the LUMEN Museum can be found on their website.