In the wake: Chris Garrison in Austria

In the action and adventure sport world he’s known as Flash Garrison because his use of light for shooting snowboarding and wakeboarding results in polished, studio-quality images. Chris is constantly traveling the world so we were lucky to catch him for an interview when he visited Red Bull.

© Chris Garrison

What brings you to Austria?
"I'm here to teach at a Red Bull Photography Academy. I will be teaching six other Red Bull photographers how to shoot wakeboarding – the standard style, what’s good practice in the industry, and my style of photography."

What’s your style of photography?
"I’ve got a nickname in the action adventure sports industry: Flash Garrison. Everything I shoot is flash-based. The shots have a studio look."

Who are the other photographers attending?
"Lorenz Holder (Overall Winner, Red Bull Illume 2013), Matthias Heschl, Philipp Schuster, Corey Rich, Tomislav Moze and Vladimir Rys." 

What will they learn?
"The wakeboarding style, the style of the athletes, what the photos need to look like, how the grab should look; basically proper angles for the shots. I’ll be challenging them to push their limits and to become more comfortable in the water." 

Why are these workshops important?
"Because they’re an opportunity to share the inside knowledge you gain from shooting the sport for so long. Plus, there’s also the bonus of learning a different style, in this case my flash-based style of shooting wakeboarding."

What are the greatest challenges of shooting wakeboarding?
"Firstly, you’re working on the water. I don’t know what’s the next hardest environment in the world. Shooting skydiving is obviously super hard because you’re unstable, but water is just as challenging. If you’re trying to set up perfect lighting, trying to get a studio look, everything on the water is moving. And obviously water and electronics don’t like each other much." 

What advice would you give yourself if you were just starting out?
"Stick to your roots and keep your passion there. I've seen a lot of guys go from shooting action sports to commercial and never go back to action. But sticking to your roots keeps it fun, and helps you to take things from one industry and bring it to another. I see a lot of photographers start out working with action sport magazines and then they’ll start working with brands and dump the editorial side because it’s not profitable. But editorial is your free advertising and the fun stuff." 

What was the last workshop or seminar you went to?
"A workshop for car photography. I taught a group of 12 selected guys different styles based around a light painting style that works with a CGI look." 

How do you think things will change in the next five years?
"There are more and more people coming into action sports photography and getting status really quick now. It’s crazy seeing the amount of people coming in, the boundaries that are being pushed and how far people are willing to go to get that extra shot. In five years there’s going to be a lot more people." 

Are photography and videography converging?
"Oh yeah. I can’t think of the last commercial shoot when I haven’t had to work with videography. Budgets are obviously getting cut a little bit here and there, but at the same time they’re trying to do bigger productions and in order to do that you have to put photography and videography together because that saves time and money. More and more clients are saying it’s great when photographers can work with a video crew. It’s the big thing now." 

Thoughts on mobile photography?
"I have a lot of cameras, but I’m always taking photos with my phone because it goes right to Instagram. The mobile cameras are getting better and better. But mobile is more for social, less for advertising. On the editorial side, you barely see GoPro shots, what to speak of mobile." 

Where to from here for you?
"I’ve got months of travel ahead of me. But first I’m shooting Red Bull Flugtag in Louisville. It’s in my top three events of the year."

For more of Chris's work, check out his website or head to Instagram.

While waiting for the unveiling of the winners on September 28, 2016, visit the Red Bull Illume social channels on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for a sneak peek of this edition’s entries. These randomly selected shots showcase just-how impressive the 2016 Red Bull Illume submissions really were.

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Killer shots

During the making of one image he wanted to kill the photographer. In another he was worried about killing himself. Senad Grosic gives us the lowdown of being the subject of Red Bull Illume winner Lorenz Holder’s Masterpiece by Yodobashi and Playground shots.

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

So it’s no secret that you guys spent some time cleaning leaves from the lake?

Oh, I hated him for this! Lorenz I love you but I hate you. It was 5:00am in the morning. I had these fishing boots on and a net and it was -4ºC.  We were there for three / four / five hours. At this moment I was like, Lorenz how can you put so much love and effort and time into one picture? The whole situation was messed up. It was crazy to do this all for one shot. I laugh now every time I tell the story. It took three days to clean the lake, then half an hour to make the picture. 

But it was worth it in the end? 

Oh definitely. We had a really good time. I knew the picture would be good but not that it would be that good! I was super happy to help him.

How is it to work with Lorenz? 

I really love to work with passionate photographers. It’s so good to have someone who is like you on a bike but with a camera. (I would do a trick 100 times to make it perfect.) To see how much power and energy [Lorenz] puts into one shot? It’s crazy. I have super respect for him. 

Did you try other tricks?

The bridge was quite rocky and not a nice bridge to ride. I tried a few tricks but this one looked the best. 

What about the Playground shot of you on that surreal steel structure?

It was way tougher than the bridge because it was really high. I’m not straight on the railing but just behind it. It was super small and slim and we built a small table just behind in case – I really didn’t want to slide out and fall 15m down. Lorenz was like, ‘can you do it’? I was like, ‘yes I can,’ but it was really f*cked up. I would not do it again! I was really scared as it was quite risky. But it’s done and I’m happy we did it.

We’re guessing you did it just one time?

I told Lorenz: ‘I’m not going to do it 100 times. You have to get the shot in one go.’ Just imagine looking at your front tire and 15m down! Afterwards I realised how much more dangerous it was. 

How important is photography to you?

It’s very important! When you land a trick and there’s another guy who appreciates it so much they capture this one special thing in a unique way? This perfect moment of you on your bike is the best thing you can have in life.

What’s your feeling on Red Bull Illume? Have you seen other images in the contest? 

I was in Chicago for the Winner Award Ceremony, so I’ve seen the other images. I would not want to be a judge! I think they’re all winners. It’s just crazy, every single picture is more than beautiful. I love the contest. It’s just unbelievable how many good young photographers are out there – they’re like athletes, just with cameras.

The Winner’s Circle: Vegard Aasen

We caught up with Norwegian photographer Vegard Aasen to discuss the Chicago Winner Award Ceremony and to talk about his winning shot from the Red Bull Illume mobile category.

© Lucas Gilman

How did it feel to win the mobile category? Did it come as a surprise?

Well, it was awesome. It´s not every day I get to win a category in the world’s biggest action sports photo contest. It was a surprise, yes. The other finalists could all have won. But when I made it to the finals, I thought that I had a good chance. If I´m in the top 5, why not win? 

Tell us about the shot.

Last winter some friends and I went to Hakuba in Japan to ski some deep powder and big mountains. The day this shot was taken was a really windy one but the snow was still really good, so we went out into the backcountry. One of my friends brought his DSLR camera, so I decided to not bring my camera because I wanted to ski instead of taking photos.

We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well.

How was Chicago for you?

Chicago was great! It was my first time over there, so I had a good time exploring the city. The event itself was amazing. Cool workshops, good food and great people. The ceremony and the exhibition is something I’ll never forget. 

Did you get to know any of the other finalists?

Yeah, of course. The event was pretty social, so I had plenty of time to get to know some of the other photographers there. It was really cool to get to know some of the photographers that had inspired me even before I knew what Red Bull Illume was.

Do you have any favourite memories from the award ceremony?

The moment they said I was the category winner is hard to forget. My first thought was: "Oh no, now I have to get up on that stage and come up with something to say". The moment when they Illuminated the exhibition was also a pretty cool. Suddenly the whole Millennium Park was lit up by the pictures. 

What does Red Bull Illume mean for you?

It was a big inspiration. Even if it was the mobile category, it kind of showed me that my pictures can "compete" on an international level. So I guess Red Bull Illume gave me a confidence boost.

What kind of an impact do you think mobile photography has on the photography world?

The phones are getting better and better, and now the mobile camera is sufficient for most people. Because everybody brings their phones with them all the time, anyone can be a photographer without buying expensive cameras. And there’s less chance you will miss a great shot because you’ll always have a camera in your pocket. 

Do you think mobile photography will become more common in action sports?

For most people, yes. For professionals, not so much. The mobile cameras will never get as good as the professional cameras. But we will see more and more great action shots as mobile cameras continue to get better. And as I mentioned before, the mobile camera will always be in your pocket if your main camera is back at home. 

What do you think is next for action sports photography?

That´s a difficult question. We’ll probably see more low light action, like the northern lights surfing shot that Emil Sollie and Mats Grimsæth just did. We’ll probably see more drone shots as well. 

Any future plans or projects?

My friend and I have just started up a photography/film production company, so that´s the big project now. This winter we´re going to work a lot with skiing. I´m also just getting into using flashes outside in action sports, which is a new learning process for me. A future plan is of course to make it to the finals of Red Bull Illume in 2019. 

Check out the gallery below for a sneak peek at one of his latest projects. Dig Vegard's work? Head over to the Gallery and vote for him for the Public Choice Award. 

Why Ride - A Tribute to Life

After almost a year of hard work and planning, Lucho Vidales' Why Ride Project is nearing completion! Our partner broncolor caught up with him to talk about what went into getting this project off the ground.

© Lucho Vidales

On November of 2015, Lucho Vidales, Xué Gil and Martin Postigo combined their passions without really knowing what would come out from it.

In the beginning, they were heading on a trip to shoot a series of BMX pictures with a medium format camera at different rare locations in between the cities of Granada and Malaga in Spain.

Then, just over a week before they were about to start their journey. On the evening of November 13th, the world was shaken once again by terrorists attacks in Paris. Amongst the victims that day at Ba-Ta-Clan was Mathias Dymarski ( BMX rider and friend of Martin) as well as his girlfriend Marie Lausch.

Several months earlier, Mathias and Martin were riding together at many of the spots they were planning to shoot at, and despite the circumstances the guys decided to continue with the shoot.

Now their project has turned into a tribute to life; too often challenges and loses are viewed as an excuse for failure or as a way to justify unproductivity and idleness. Martin's dedication showed us, that hard times that life throws at us can lead to great outcomes, if we can focus our energy in the right way.

“I called Martin, not sure what to expect, but he chose to move forwards with the project. We arrived on Thursday, the 19th and began shooting the following morning. Days passed and I was very happy with the material, but when Martin left a message for Mathias on a wall at one of the sites, I began to realize he was paying his friend a tribute through our project," says Lucho. 

"I instantly felt profoundly connected to him and the way that he reacted to the situation – deciding to continue with the project despite regrettable circumstances. Seven years ago I too lost someone close to me, but instead of letting it destroy me, I discovered my passion for photography, and it took me to where I am today."

“Why Ride was a great opportunity to do something productive with our passions and everyone involved in the project showed that."  

"We want to keep pushing this further; make Why Ride as big as possible, to create a lasting impact and perhaps even develop it into an annual project and encourage others to follow in our foot steps. I think in this we have an important lesson to teach others. Too often challenges and losses are viewed as an excuse for failure or as a way to justify unproductivity and idleness. Martin’s dedication reminded me once again that the worst obstacles and hard times that life throws at us can lead to great and inspiring outcomes if we can find it in ourselves to focus our energy in the right ways."

To learn more about the Why Ride Project, head over to the website and make sure to follow the project on Facebook

Meet the star of THAT fall

South African climber Jamie Smith relives that fall – and explains why it’s important for photographers to capture moments like this.

© Micky Wiswedel / Red Bull Illume

How was that fall for you?

It was terrifying for sure, and huge, but it was fairly safe because the wall is so steep. I also had a great belayer who would jump up as the rope caught me. This meant the fall was pretty soft. But yeah if things went wrong, there was a chance that you would swing into the rock and smash yourself up. In fact, when Alex Honnold was here, he bruised his ankle pretty badly falling from exactly the same place.

Walk us through what happened? 

This was a project of mine on Table Mountain that I was trying. It’s this beautiful wall of rock with a blank overhanging prow that has no gear for about five meters. The climbing there is tricky and the holds run out right at the top so I had to get my feet up really high and do this off balance jump to the final hold. I knew that if I missed it, I would kick off backwards.

Did you scream? 

I can’t remember. I think I was too scared to scream! Screaming is a funny thing – sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it happens my mates like to remind me about it afterwards.

What did you think when you first saw the image? 

Yeah the image is amazing. It far exceeded my expectations. It’s a really difficult position to shoot from because the rock is in shade but the background is super bright. I thought I would be silhouetted, so Micky did a great job balancing the exposures. The image also captures both the scale of the fall and the sense of weightlessness that I felt moments before the acceleration kicked in. I knew it was a great shot when I saw it.

As a climber, would you prefer that falls are not shown? 

On the contrary. I think falling off is an important part of climbing. I fall off a lot and I embrace it. I wouldn’t have managed to climb many of these hard routes if I hadn’t been prepared to take falls like this while trying. Falling is actually quite complex, both technically and mentally, and it’s something you need to practice all the time, otherwise it can be a real mental block and limits progress. The more you fall, the more you learn what is safe and what is not. This is super important for risk assessment. You also become better at focusing on the climbing rather than the fear of falling. It’s really rewarding being able to stay calm and focused, while climbing at your absolute limit. 

What makes a great climbing shot in your view? 

A great shot captures the movement and emotion of the climber and the aesthetics of the climb and setting. Bum shots, taken from below, really annoy me.
Can you give a sense of what it takes to be a climbing photographer? Climbing photography takes a huge amount of effort and skill. To get a good shot, the photographer needs to get in position above or to the side of the climber and they need to be able to move around while hanging on a rope. This normally involves either climbing a route or abseiling in from the top. 

They need to be able to ascend and descend the ropes as the climber moves and must be comfortable operating a camera and changing lenses high above the ground, without dropping anything. They also need to control their swing on the rope, which takes a fair amount of core strength. They have to understand what the climber will to do next and what positions look good in a photo. Basically, they need to be a pretty good climber themselves, which Micky is. He had to climb up a route next to me and dangle there for a few hours until the light was good enough to shoot.

Have you come across Red Bull Illume before? 

No I hadn’t but I think it’s awesome to see a role reversal where the photographer gets the limelight. All too often the athlete gets all the glory. Micky is a good friend of mine so I am super psyched for him. 

The Winner's Circle: Daniel Vojtech

Czech photographer Dan Vojtěch is one of the more creative action sports photographers working today – three of the 11 finalist images in the New Creativity category were his. He also won the category last time. He tells us why photographers need to train like athletes – and what skill separates the pros from the amateurs.

© Lucas Gilman

You need to train like an athlete? 

With GoPros and smartphones, everyone’s a photographer. It’s a bit scary, the game is changing so much. You need to stay ahead. You have to improve your level. Cameras are much better now, they shoot in the dark, they’re smaller, you can mount them everywhere and now there are drones which are cheaper and smaller. We see many more photos. 

So how do you stay ahead? 

You have to shoot a lot. It’s like practice, it’s like sport. If you don’t train, you won’t be any good. It’s the same with photography.

What distinguishes the pros from a good amateur?

The best athletes sometimes risk their lives doing tricks. You just have one attempt. If you don’t capture it, you miss it. So those athletes will always prefer professional photographers because they guarantee not just the quality, but to not miss the shot. It’s easy to create one good shot. If you’re an amateur and using a cellphone, and you shoot 100,000 photos, there will be two to three good ones. But if you’re a pro, you need to shoot 10 and have three that are good. For action photography, you need this quality. 

Tell us about your Sequence shot: 

I love concepts, creating stories… The plane was quite small – it was not built for tall people like me! I’m 193cm and it was quite hard to fit inside. But it was a great experience. The action was amazing. I was in the rear plane and the plane in front made a circle. It seems quite far away because I’m using a fisheye, but actually it was only a few meters! 

Did your stomach flip? 

No! I’d already done a few flights with the Flying Bulls in aerobatic planes – I knew what to expect. 

You must be really pleased to win. Again! 

It’s an amazing feeling because it’s like the Olympic Games for photographers. There are thousands of submitted photos, so it’s an amazing feeling to be in the top 11. 

What do you think of the other shots in the contest?

I liked Victor Sukhorukov’s Masterpiece shot of the lighthouse BASE jumper. It’s a really nice picture, nice atmosphere. But all of them are amazing. Every photographer has a unique style and it’s nice to see that. I can’t shoot surfing or motorsports, so it’s nice to see things I cannot do! 

Is Red Bull Illume important to a photographer like yourself?

It’s kind of [acknowledgement] that you are doing a good job. It’s important. It’s not easy to be a photographer. But Red Bull Illume is a big motivation to do other projects – that’s the most important thing. If you win, it’s a big motivation! 

What recent projects have you been working on? 

I was in Hawaii for the Ironman championships. I created a concept to shoot athletes on a large format polaroid camera which was a bit different.

It’s not easy to shoot with this big camera and the athletes were doing a lot of photoshoots and were stressed. But after they saw the image, they were super pleased. It was a great project: there’s almost no value to digital images; you can print many times. But with Polaroid, you only have one moment to capture the image and you have just one print – if you lose or destroy it, it’s gone. 

Kelvin Trautman: What's in the Bag?

The Red Bull Illume mobile category finalist talks us through what he takes on his back.

© Kelvin Trautman

Seems as though there’s as much adventure gear there as camera stuff?

To date, a lot of my work has involved following athletes to remote locations, which means I have to be physically prepared and have the right gear to capture what I need to. I really enjoy this participatory approach.

What gear did you start out with? 

It was during my sailing days – I did a four-year yacht racing stint, which took me around the world and made me enough money to buy some decent camera equipment. The first camera was a Canon 40D and one wide-angle lens. I shot a lot of onboard shoot briefs at the time but I didn’t really have money to afford waterproof housings so I had my gear wrapped in ziplock bags and duct tape – needless to say that green corrosion became a feature on most of my camera gear. 

Any specific reason why you use Nikon cameras?

When all my gear got stolen in South Africa. A determined thief scaled a three story drain pipe, climbed in a window and left with all my camera equipment. I wrote to Canon and Nikon asking for help and Nikon came back with a good deal. I’ve been with them ever since. 

Is there one piece of gear you wouldn’t leave home without?

It would probably be the Nikon D500, the one I took to Iceland and a 50mm prime lens. Having less gear is not always a bad thing –  it means your camera bag is lighter and you are forced to be more creative when taking pictures

What item do you wish you could add to your bag?

A packable drone that shoots medium format images. Most of my photography is about putting humans in perspective in mother nature and aerial images are a great way to show scale. With the advances in technology, this could be a reality soon. Exciting times!

Check out what Kelvin Trautman carried with him on his recent Iceland trip! 

1. Nikon D5002. Nikon 14-24mm3. Nikon 70-200mm4. Nikon 16mm fisheye5. iPhone6. Llama Bars - nougat snack bars7. Spot tracker 8. Favorite sun hat9. Silva Head torch10. Salomon waterproof shell jacket11. Gloves12. Salomon running shoes13. Water bottle14. Stuff sacks

Lucho Vidales x Adam Raga: Cruise Ship Trials

broncolor ambassador Lucho Vidales gets eyes for his crazy creativity and this time it's no different. Check out how he used his broncolor gear to the fullest while shooting trials bike World Champion Adam Raga on a cruise ship.

Hi everybody! It’s Lucho here once again, trying to make some time to share my experience with another great product from broncolor.

I was lucky enough to have been one of the first ones to try the Siros L 800 packs on assignment. I had an upcoming shoot on a cruise ship with Trial Bike world champion Adam Raga thanks to the awesome Black N Rad productions Crew. So I had a call from Txomin from tx-lab and he was kind enough of telling me that he had a surprise… some new flashes that he knew I would like. Which indeed, I ended up really enjoying using. 

Working with this new monolights and the bronControl App was very satisfying, making the workflow have more…. flow. Which from my point of view thats always a great thing.

Being able to move fast in between the different locations inside the ship without having any cables lagging around was also great, making the job easier, not having to worry about having cables stuck to furniture, people’s feet or anything that could cause a mess while being on set. In the end having this tools make a big difference on being able to concentrate on the final result, and doing what we are there for, shooting the pictures and focusing on getting the most out of every different location and action. And being able to do it with the highest quality that we can.

Enjoy the final results and the video from the promo, hope you like them!

"Taxi!" - how Aaron Chase hails a cab!

Riding a bike over a New York taxi cab for Ale di Lullo’s award winning shot? Just another day in the office for pro downhill rider Aaron Chase. He gives us the behind-the-scenes lowdown on the shoot.

© Ale di Lullo / Red Bull Illume

How much fun was that shoot?

Ale had a plan and we locked that in pretty fast. I had an idea about a location in Brooklyn, we rented a car and the party started there!

Guessing taxis aren’t your usual terrain?

I had a little kicker ramp and knew I could ride the windshield as long as it lasted long enough before breaking. 

Were you seriously worried?

No, I knew I wouldn’t go through, I just didn't want to break it and that would kind of screw up the shot ya know.

How do you like the image?

I like the angle from the passenger’s POV of this action. Once Ale and I staged this we knew that the shot was going to be sick. We had the building on the left, Williamsburg bridge on the right, taxi driver locked in and when I hit the windshield it filled up the entire open space, just like we planned!

Generally, how important are photographers to you as an athlete? 

As a rider I need to concentrate on the my job and have full confidence in my photographer that the image is being captured perfectly. It feels so satisfying to land the trick and hover over the camera and double check your style.  

Do you think you’d be where you are without quality images?

In this day and age imagery is everything. I’m definitely known for my images and videos over the years. It takes a team to build quality content and real photographers that can hang with the action and the down time. They end up traveling the world.  

Photographers don’t always get a lot of love. You think they deserve some?

Yes of course, but the photographer’s job is to highlight the action & athlete and not really himself. A photographer rarely gets the recognition that an athlete gets from a photo but that’s kind of the nature of the beast! 

How was it working with Ale? Did you have any creative input into this image? 

Oh yeah, we talked about the shot and the action like old war buddies. Ale is an easy guy to get along with.

Tell us about the collaborative process between athlete and photographer.

It all depends, this photo Ale and I collaborated on no doubt, but in general if out with a photographer I generally do my thing and let him do his.

What advice would you give an aspiring action sports photographer?

Get on Instagram and see what people are doing. Follow people that inspire you and apply some of the grand images to your world. When traveling, I often look at post cards and imagine a bike in the setting, stuff like that.

Have you seen the other images in Red Bull Illume?

I was just saying to Ale that Red Bull Illume is like winning a raffle, all the photos are insane but I’m stoked to come out on top!

What in your mind makes a great image? 

The best photos tell a story.  

Want to hear more about the story behind the shot? We recently caught up with Red Bull Illume Category Winner Ale di Lullo to talk about what went into creating the award-winning shot! 

The Winner's Circle: Dean Treml

Three images in the final, two of which were category winners – not bad for a photographer who doesn’t do set-ups and prefers to avoid Photoshop. Dean Treml explains why he’s stoked.

© Dean Treml / Red Bull Illume


It was quite unexpected to be honest. With photo competitions you never know what’s going to happen. You’re in the audience and they show the finalists and say: “And the winner is.” When that happened the second time I was blown away. 

Was it important that the shots were ‘editorial’?

It is for me! A lot of stuff is created over a period of time with a lot of forethought and planning. That’s to take nothing away from the photographs but that’s just not my way. To have three photos that were taken in real life situations in that mix was pretty satisfying.

Why is editorial different?

The primary thing with editorial is the integrity of the image. It has to be truthful. If someone sees it they have to believe 100% what was in that scene. That involves not setting up the photograph, not creating something that’s untrue, not manipulating it in Photoshop. It’s common place these days to use Photoshop to make your photos outstanding but it’s not so much photography as ‘photoshopography’. Editorial has to be telling a story with an image. It needs to drag you in and make you want to find out what’s going on.

So it’s quite ironic then that you won the Enhance category?

That’s totally not lost on me! That particular venue was kinda cool and abstract but always had the the platform sticking out, which created a distraction. The platform’s necessary but when I was looking at the Red Bull Illume [Enhance] category, this photo jumped into my mind – maybe I could rip the platform out? In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to be a finalist. It was something I did in Photoshop in two minutes: take the platform out, increase the contrast a little bit and send in.

What does Red Bull Illume mean for you? 

From a sports and adventure perspective it’s a big deal. The quality of the photos submitted – everything’s of a really high standard. You can see it’s a worthwhile thing, showcasing fantastic work from all around the planet.

Two of your images show what can go wrong in action sports. Is that important? 

A lot of content tends to be somewhat sterilised. If you get people doing extreme sports you get injury and sometimes extreme injury. It goes with the territory. I don’t think these sports should be painted as something where everything always goes fantastically: people leaping off buildings, backflipping on motorbikes, careering off waterfalls and everyone’s got a big smile on their face. It can go bad sometimes. As an editorial photographer you want to document all aspects, not just focus on the shiny stuff.

And the guys bounced back?

Josh was fairly determined to rehabilitate and he did; he was was back in a kayak one year later. Nicholi took a hell of a spill but was fine. He got up pretty quickly afterwards, continued his run, went down and finished. He had a bit of a cut on his face but is clearly quite a resilient kid. 

What’s next in action sport photography?

The trend for action is to try anything that’s new and hope you can do something different to everyone else.  

Should photographers be worried?

Photographers have been worried for years – so many colleagues have lost work. It’s not valued in the same way as used to be. Publications don’t care about the quality as much as they used to. They want the content and they want to have it cheaply. If you can get something from the guy on the street and stick his name under it, everyone’s happy except for the photographers who make a living from it. Photography’s not a trade where you have a certificate saying, ‘I did four years’. Now everyone has a camera that can shoot sharp and well exposed photographs. I’ve been lucky to work with Red Bull who value photography and see the value of photography. It’s one of the few companies that let you go out and do your job. 

What are you working on? 

Ultimately a holiday! 

The Winner's Circle: Ale di Lullo

Photographer Ale Di Lullo captured one of the most unusual shots in this year’s Red Bull Illume – shooting a mountainbike rider from inside a New York cab. He tells us why winning a category was so amazing – and why photographers need to ‘innovate or die’!

© Lucas Gilman

How does it feel to have four images selected with one a category winner?

Oh man it was awesome and will be so forever. Red Bull Illume is documenting the progression of action sports photography and so to be part of this with a winning shot in the New Creativity category with a shot that I made specifically for Illume? It's just great!

What really went down in Chicago?

What an event! With extreme sports, it sometimes happens that you stay in nice hotels and locations, but to be in that city downtown in a hyper classy fancy hotel, wow. The Winner Award Ceremony was really another experience! It was surreal and the photos displayed at night on those white panels in an area of towering buildings was priceless! 

One funny thing is that I missed the group shot with all the winners on stage as I was already drinking beers and celebrating! They didn't realize I was missing because having Dean Treml and Lorenz holder winning more than a category messed up the counting! 

How was it to win the New Creativity category? 

I'll remember it for a while I think! I was hanging with Christof Kalt, one of the judges and a big fan of my photo. I didn't know which one was the finalist or if there was more than one. I was hoping for the windshield but I didn't know and Christof kept the secret until the end so I really had no idea. 

Then when the New Creativity category was presented and I saw the shot on the screen which had made top 5 I said to him: ‘Man I'm happy already that that shot made top five and three others were in the Top 275. I felt I had accomplished something good already. But then, in a matter of seconds they said, ‘And the winner is…’ and my shot was displayed on the screen. It’s like when you dive into the water – that moment when all the sounds around you change and all your senses adapt to the new environment. I put the beer on the table and ran to the stage. The stage panic almost got me for one second in front of the mic but I was too stoked for panicking! 

Can you describe some of the challenges of getting the shot? 

The big question was, is the windshield gonna crack, is Aaron going to smash it at first try and do we have to go home with no shot. It was in preparation for over a year and the first similar attempt we did ended with Aaron under broken glass. Read the full story on how Ale got the shot here

Was it good to hang with other photographers?

Again, I wish I had the time to meet them all! It was great to put together faces and shots. Big respect for everyone. I hope to see them again somewhere. 

What did you think of the other images?

All the winning shots were just winning big time and in the selection of the Top 275 there are some gems. There are shots that go beyond the action by capturing the essence of the sport. And the progression of photography together with the sports is just amazing.

Red Bull Illume has done a great job with this contest because it's so interesting to see the shots from 2007 and see how different they were back then. And I remember some of the shots that ten years ago were outstanding, they seem to be just more normal now! I believe because they were the first, they opened the vision for others to develop the ideas with new technology and fresh ideas. Red Bull Illume is documenting this evolution and it's awesome.

What is your favourite shot in the contest? 

Probably mine – just kidding.. ahahah! I definitely love Dean Treml enhance category winner, so powerful. It seems to me something like a 2001 space odyssey stage or some 70s sci-fi futuristic comic or illustration. Jody MacDonald lifestyle was also so good.

What’s coming up in your calendar?

I have a couple of assignments in southern France and a three week shoot on the west coast. I always force myself to think of new stuff and find new locations around the world. I'll be also doing a cool project with some badass extreme sports movie production company. That is something I would love to work on more in the future.  

Where do you think the next challenges in action sports photography are?

It's hard to predict. With new technology growing so quickly, still photography could even became irrelevant and obsolete in five years. Hopefully that won't be the case but the challenge is to keep up with the sport, with the technology we have and the progression that photography is having.

With everyone being a photographer now, should pro photographers be worried?

I think we have the chance to still use the most powerful equipment available plus we have a trained eye that is supposed to give an advantage. I believe quality and professionalism pays in the long term. As my buddy the freeride legend Darren Berrecloth loved to say: ‘innovate or die’.