There's just one month to go before submissions open for the next Red Bull Illume. The defining images will no doubt illuminate, inspire and leave the viewer in awe. But for any aspiring category winners out there, two-time Red Bull Illume judge Paul Sanders has some tips.
"Keep it simple," he says. "I'm a great believer that the simplest images are the most powerful. It shouldn't need special tricks or over processing."
He cites Camilla Stoddart's shot of BASE jumper Josie Symons caught elegantly mid-flight as a classic example of a shot nailed to perfection. "When I looked at that, I just thought, 'wow'," says the former Times photo editor. "It may not have won, but it's just so serene, beautifully composed and yet also very simple," he says. He also cites Tim Korbmacher's shot of Stefan Lantschner riding inside an industrial pipe.
"The composition is not over-complicated but all the elements just suck you in — the lighting, the perfect shadow, the timing."
Of course, in action sports photography, getting the timing right is essential he adds. It's all about capturing the energy of the moment, whether a cliff diver seemingly motionless in the air or a skateboarder at the top of a turn. "That's what makes it look beautiful," says Sanders.
However, what sets the action sports genre apart from regular sports photography is the way photographers clearly work with athletes. As a final tip for anyone looking to impress the judges, Sanders adds that the best results only come from working hard with the athlete so that they understand the idea behind the shot.
"It's quite different from mainstream where sports photographers are often seen as a pain in the neck.
"You can't make a good picture without total co-operation. The athlete has to understand your vision."
There are 10 categories in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest, so whatever your vision, whether a lifestyle shot or something experimental, think about putting in an entry. Submissions open December 2012.