My first cliff diving shoot

Ben Dean at the World Cliff Diving series in La Rochelle

To get gigs as a professional photographer takes years of experience. But how do you get that experience in the first place to learn your craft and shoot like a pro?

Aspiring photographer Ben Dean got the opportunity to fly to the beautiful medieval town of La Rochelle in south-west France to cover the second round of the World Cliff Diving Series through Red Bull Reporter. We caught up with him to find out what he learned.

Ben spotted the request for an event photographer on April 30th at Red Bull Reporter, who regularly give young photographers, writers, filmmakers and presenters in the UK the chance to cover the best sports and cultural events. By May 15th, Ben was in France on his own special assignment.

“My brief was basically to get 30 decent shots of the venue and location and to get a few snaps of the athletes during the competition, mainly focusing on the UK’s Gary Hunt. I was also asked to get behind-the-scenes shots, to give people a taste of what goes on behind the barriers.”

Cliff diving is regarded as one of the purest extreme sports around, being both beautifully simple and extremely dangerous to execute. Divers must be extremely fit, have the reflexes of a gymnast and possess the mental strength to cope with the pressure of competition as well as the risk of injury if they get their timing wrong.

For a photographer then, cliff diving has everything – spectacular dives, great locations, tough competition, drama and some real personalities. When you add in a 27 metre tower and 50,000 spectators at the event in La Rochelle, a photographer has all the ingredients they need for a great shoot.

The biggest challenge for the twenty year old from Devon however was that he had no experience of shooting the sport.

“I’ve been to quite a few events in the past like London Freeze, Red Bull Empire of Dirt, MX des Nations, but never as part of the media as an official photographer. Cliff diving was completely new to me.”

“When I saw the first diver jump off the 27m high tower I was completely shocked! I’ve seen a lot of extreme sports live but this really took my breath away. I had to remember to take photos as I was so transfixed by how crazy it was!”

With no prior experience of shooting the sport, Ben also had to learn fast on the day about how to adjust his lens and adapt to the light conditions to capture the action. Divers spend three seconds in the air and hit the water at 85km/h.

Although it takes years for a photographer to build up their equipment to pro standard, Ben was fortunate to have some good gear for his first big photography assignment.

“I used a Canon 50D with battery grip and a Canon 480 flash. Lens-wise I took my Canon 70- 200mm f4 L series lens for the action shots, a Canon 50mm f1.8 for portraits and a Sigma 15- 35m f2.6 for the background and general shots.”

“My main enemy on the day, apart from not having a tripod that worked, was the weather. One minute it was beautifully sunny, the other dark and cloudy so it was pretty hard to keep adjusting settings to make sure the shots came out alright.”

Ben also had to quickly initiate himself with the competition’s new format. As only the top six athletes after the first two heats made the final, divers couldn’t save their best jumps until last, meaning that Ben had to stay focused during the whole event.

What other challenges did he face on the day?

“The media centre, where I was based, was on the opposite side of the harbor to the divers – so I found myself constantly running around from one side to the other to get photos. On the plus side I did manage to talk my way to some good vantage points during the event, which photographers have to do. I had to get someone to hang on to the back of my jeans while I took a shot over the edge of the tower from about 90 feet up [27 metres], which was scary!”

As well as having to deal with the impact of several huge dives, the biggest in the World Cliff Diving series, the athletes also had to cope with cold water conditions at 14°C. Divers were even struggling to walk afterwards. This gave Ben the opportunity to capture some interesting shots of the athletes as they went through a rollercoaster of emotions during the event.

Was he trying to get any particular type of shot on the day?

“I have a strange love for sequence shots. I feel they show exactly what’s happening in one photo without having to explain anything to the viewer.

“My favorite photo was the one of Orlando Duque just before he hit the water, he must have been less than 30cm off the surface. It was a pure stroke of luck as well. I only found out I’d shot it when I got home and started looking through my photos! It’s a shame the picture wasn’t totally sharp though.”

What did he learn from watching the professional photographers at the event?

“I picked up a lot of things on the day. The main thing is that if you’re shooting the same location for years, it’s your job as a photographer to be able to spot something new and exciting that will set you apart from the rest of the field.”

Even better for Ben was that Gary Hunt won the event, giving him the perfect pictures to send back to Red Bull Reporter in London. The British athlete scored perfect tens on his last dive and received an overall score of 390 points, thereby maintaining his lead in the Cliff Diving World Series leader board in front of Russia’s Artem Silchenko and Colombia’s Orlando Duque.

Considering it was his first cliff diving shoot, would he do anything different if given the chance again?

“I’m lucky enough to work for an underwater camera specialist and I would be able to get hold of some pretty cool kit. If I ever get another opportunity to go to a cliff diving event I’d love to take some photos from the water so I could get a half and half shot of a diver entering the water - that would look awesome!”

Ben admits he has a lot to learn before he can mix it with the pros but he was happy to get some experience under his belt thanks to Red Bull Reporter. If he ever needs inspiration of course, Ben can always check out the online Red Bull Illume gallery in the future to see some of the world’s best cliff diving photography.

Check out the video and picture gallery to see Ben's assignment at the Red Bull World Cliff Diving event in La Rochelle. If you are based in the UK and want the opportunity to photograph for Red Bull Reporter, register at www.redbullreporter.com.

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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!

Time to Celebrate #WorldAnimalDay!

Adventure buddies come in all shapes and sizes, including animals. Whether they're dolphins, dogs, cats, birds, we love them all! So join us in celebrating #WorldAnimalDay!

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume

Behind the Shot: Second Story Drops

Brooklyn's very own Jonathan Mehring teamed up with legendary skater Aaron "Jaws" Homoki on this one while on the road in Boise, Idaho. And the story is a classic; skater and photographer team up, look for a spot, hit the spot, walk away with a banger. Read the story behind this steezy shot below!

© Jonathan Mehring / Red Bull Illume

"There is nothing like looking for spots with Aaron ‘Jaws’ Homoki. If skaters view the world differently than everyone else, then Jaws views it differently from nearly every skater as well."

"The whole crew was in the van looking out the windows for spots. Jaws was in there too, but instead of looking at street level, he was looking up! He’s always on the lookout for a second story drop spot – his specialty. This one, in Boise, Idaho while on tour with the Tumyeto crew, was no different."

"There was a shout from the back of the van: “Guys, guys! A second story drop!” We lurched to a halt and everyone looked around for the spot. After a few seconds we realized what he was talking about. He ran up to check it out and it was perfect. No cracks or rough ground impeding his runway."

"After making sure the filmer and I had our angles set and our cameras ready he went for it, not wanting to try anymore times than necessary. The impact could be felt with each attempt and I kept wondering how many tries he could take. Luckily after five or six attempts he rolled away clean and we were on our way."

To see more of Jonathan's work, make sure to check out his website and Instagram!

Seven Adventure Photographers You Need To Know

From hanging off of sheer cliff faces to catch the perfect shot, to braving the freezing cold because the light is spectacular, adventure photographers go through some serious challenges to bring you amazing imagery. So we decided to delve into the archives and bring you our take on the seven photographers you need to know!

© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Illume

John Dale

So excited to finally be able to share this image of my dad and his pup going for a good walk in the snow that made it to the Top 25 in the Spirit Category of the 2016 @redbullillume Image Quest. Honored and humbled to have my image make it through out of over 34k submissions from the top outdoor adventure photographers in the world. Photography has been a wild and stressful ride but I wouldn’t choose any other path. Thanks to everyone who’s encouraged me to keep at it the past few years, y’all have been instrumental. Psyched to keep shooting and good luck to the finalists! [Guadalupe Mountains National Park, NM - January 2015 - #getoutstayout #solarlife #explore #wanderlust #WeAreAllZeal #ExploreMore]

A post shared by John Dale | Photographer (@johndalephoto) on

Kelvin Trautman

Dave Lehl

Work. #santacruz #surf #california

A post shared by Dave Lehl (@davelehl) on

Tim Kemple

Krystle Wright

Highliner @carlmarrs takes a sunset walk high up in the North Cascades.

A post shared by Krystle Wright (@krystlejwright) on

Jakub Sedivy

Mike Leeds

For more spectacular photos, head over to our Instagram and make sure to hit that follow button!

Gearing Up for Shoots

Denis Klero, winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 Close-Up category, recently completed a gigantic photo-mission: three weeks on the road during the Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme, an ultra-stage bike race from Moscow to Vladivostok. Following that, there were no days off for him, as he headed out to the Red Bull Flugtag. Two completely different photo-missions, two different approaches and he talked us through them.

© Denis Klero

What's your go-to gear setup?

First of all, we need to divide shoots into two types; Active Reporting and Staged Photography.

During Active Reporting, what really matters is mobility, accessibility of gear and a quick response time. This is why I carry all my gear to the shoot in a backpack or rolling bag, and at the site I put it on a harness I attach to my belt (Photos of this are below).

To summarize the gear: I carry two cameras, two powerful flashes and some fast lenses - all of these are crucial to this kind of reporting.

Fast lenses, wide open, allow blurring the background when it's impossible to beautifully link foreground and background because of so-called "rubbish". 

Usually, I carry two Sony A99II, two flashes and four to five lenses; a 24mm 2.0, a 50mm 1.4, a 70-200mm 2.8 a 16-35mm 2.8 and (to be safe) a 15mm 2.8 fisheye.

Staged Photography is much simpler in terms of gear. I try to use one lens: 24–70 mm 2.8.First of all, in some cases it allows you not to distort space (70 mm), and in some cases it adds an effect of viewer's presence in the photo (35 mm). Availability of a large number of intermediate focal distances is an undeniable advantage.

Secondly, I work mostly with fixed aperture, and it is easier for me to zoom on a photo rather than to go forward and back. Contrary to reporting, staged photography makes it possible to work on the scene for a much longer time and to use and elaborate backgrounds for my own purposes. All the above mainly relates to wide-shot scenes. Of course, when I shoot portraits, still life, big details, I use different optics, including prime lenses.

In both cases, I use two cameras. During reporting, they are equipped with different lenses to have a possibility to quickly change the focal distance, simply by changing camera. This takes no more than a second while changing optics on one camera may take up to 15 seconds, which is inadmissible in some cases. The second camera is also a spare one for the case of possible malfunction. During staged photography, it is used as a reserve camera. It would be very hurtful if, due to a camera malfunction, the long hours spent on preparation on arranging the shooting goes down the drain.

What never leaves your bag/what goes with you to every shoot?

My brain! Everything depends on the type of shoot. I always have my Sony A99II in my bag, regardless of what I'm shooting on that given day or during that assignment.

How do you choose gear for different projects?

Surely, it depends on the specifics or, in case of staged photography, on the idea of the project. In case of events, the site size is of importance. It is necessary to understand whether a usual "report" set is sufficient for work, whether focal distances are sufficient. Then, if upper points are available, it is possible to use such lens as tilt-shift. Another important parameter for selection of additional gear is duration. The duration of the event determines availability of time to experiment with filters, lenses and any methods used in photography (long exposure, unusual shooting angles, etc.). Depending on the time of holding the event (day or night), a decision is made to use additional studio flashlights.

And it is possible to use any type of equipment at staged photography: from smartphone camera to a full-fledged analog camera. Everything depends on the creative task.

How different is packing for an event like the Trans-Siberian Extreme and for the Flugtag?

Red Bull Flugtag in comparison with Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme bicycle racing is a rather short, bright, and emotional event, just manage to shoot. Creativity involves usage of unusual points for shooting, that is why I try to get in such places where shooting is not obvious. All the rest is classical reporting: it is important to quickly see the moment and push the button. And the main thing here is that the gear does not fail. So, I rely on autofocus, especially when I shoot with open aperture.

It is simultaneously simpler and more complicated for Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme. The event is time-stretched, and action is the same day after day, so there is a chance to reshoot if something doesn't work. Lifestyle scenes are also quite long, you have time to take in the situation and compose the photo.

The tricky thing is that during 23 days a spectator watching the race is not bored when looking at your photos. You have to use all the potential of your brain and look for not only interesting creative solutions but use different technical means and special effects to create something new, non-standard, and unusual for such race. Here, your photographer's talent is not only fully manifested, but seriously improved due to the tasks solved.

Studio, artificial light, smoke cartridges, water sprays – all this gave the possibility to diversify photos. And at night I had to use additional flashlight.

In comparison with Flugtag kit, Trans-Siberian Extreme kit was upgraded with another camera — a mirrorless system Sony A9 and almost the same set of lenses (not available in the photo). This is the newest camera that came into the market this summer, and we decided to test it in the field. There are also two tripods in the kit, mainly to use at night or to install a remote camera with the possibility to run it at a distance.

Also, in the picture we can see a 220V car voltage converter for continuous charging of batteries of different devices. An Internet router is required to promptly send photos directly from car to web-site. Both kits have a laptop, which is necessary for quickly processing and transferring photographic materials for publications.

The used lighting gear is worth discussing separately.

 

In the picture, we can see impulse light with a possibility of high-speed synchronization, a LED lamp, smoke cartridges for generating fog and other effects, two types of light stands, light generating heads, etc.

LED lamp was used for night lifestyle shootings at stops during rest and for shooting cyclists from car while they are on road. Constant light is more convenient in such cases:

it enables the autofocus to work better, and the final picture does not feature "frozen" parts of moving parts of bicycle and driver, as with impulse light. And such light is just convenient to form a light-and shadow picture, so to speak, online.

At the top of Photo 4, there is overwrap: it was used to protect the lighting gear from rain.

During the race, I used two types of light stands because each one has its advantages: Black stands are light-weighted and compact, and chrome plated C-stands are convenient for use on uneven surfaces which are typical for races.

 

Smoke cartridges made it possible to diversify boring night photos. They added volume to the photo and made the light more visible and tangible.

Sometimes, in search of an unusual shooting angle I have to climb different piles and trees. To climb trees, I typically use usual climbing irons.

If there’s only one body + lens setup you could use for an assignment, what would you use?

Sony A99II + 24-70 2.8

Do you carry anything with you that no one else has?

I think I have nothing special in my bag.

Any items you would like to add to your gear bag?

It would be nice to have additional pockets and sections.

Any tips for starting photographers?

Start small and gradually complicate and increase the number of your gear. Do not think that if you buy all types of lenses and studio light you will get genius shots. You have to know how to use this equipment, I mean not only to study manuals but to understand experimentally how this gear affects the final result. Years may pass... Everything must be gradual. Good luck!

 

To see more of Denis' work, head over to his website and give him a follow on Instagram!

Red Bull Illume Visits Home!

Following stops in Chicago and Toronto, the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour is coming home for the month of September.

© Helge Kirchberger Photography / Red Bull Hangar-7

The official tour-stop home of Red Bull Illume has always been the impressive Hangar-7 in Salzburg, and this year is no different. This unique building, which houses a collection of historical aircraft and Formula 1 race cars is the perfect home for the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour.

The Exhibit Tour officially opens in the evening on 6 September, and can be visited by the public from 7 September onwards. The exhibit can be visited all day, Hangar-7 opening hours permitting, but we recommend going later in the day when it starts to get dark, as that is when the lightboxes really shine!

The last night of the Exhibit Tour will coincide with the Lange Nacht der Museen, which takes place on 7 October, 2017.

Jaakko Posti: What's in the Bag

Mixing emotion and feeling together with elements from travel, sports, documentary, nature and landscape photography, Finnish photographer Jaakko Posti creates some next-level adventure and action sports photos. We caught up with him to see what he carries with him when he goes out into the wild!

© Jaakko Posti

Talk us through your gear. What are your go-to items?

I'm a Sony Alpha Ambassador and I use Sony cameras for my work. I used to shoot with the Sony A99 camera, but then the original A7 mirrorless full frame camera was announced back in 2013. I have been pretty much using the Alpha 7 series cameras since then. The system has matured quite a bit since the first model and now I carry a Sony A7R2 body and their new mirrorless flagship model, the Sony A9. I think that these two bodies compliment each others quite nicely. The A7R2 with its 42Mpx sensor is great for landscape and portrait work or in a situation where I know I have to crop in a bit in post. The A9 on the other hand is a perfect companion in action and sports photography. The unbelievable AF functions of the A9, together with the 20FPS make my job a lot more efficient. I shoot more and more video together with photos and for that I feel that this mirrorless system is great.

The lenses I now mostly use on the wide end are Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 and the Sony FE 35mm F1.4. On the longer end I like to use the Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM and Sony FE 85mm F1.4 GM lenses. What I really like about the Sony E-mount system is the option I have to go small and light if I want to.

I can for example use the A9 body with Zeiss 25mm/F2 + 55mm/F1.8 and 70-200mm/F4G and with those lenses, the system is really light and compact. And then again in situations where size and weight is not an issue and I just want to get the best IQ out of the system, I can add the battery grips to the bodies and use the fastest lenses like the Sony 70-200mm F2.8 GM, the 85mm F1.4 GM, the 35mm F1.4Z or the the 16-35mm F2.8 GM. With those lenses, the weight of the system is quite similar to a normal DSLR system.

Now when I´m shooting more and more video as well, I usually carry the DJI Mavic Pro with me. Drones can really open up your artistic creativity.  

For me the passion to action and outdoor photography started with the passion to the outdoors itself and I feel that with the small mirrorless system in my camera backpack I get to enjoy the skiing, mountain biking, trail running or other outdoor activities more. That was the most important reason I started using the mirrorless system and stayed with it although I felt that there were some compromises when compared to traditional DSLR cameras, but now after the announcement of Sony Alpha A9 camera I feel that there is no compromises anymore. 

Do you remember the first piece of photography gear you have ever owned?  

The first camera I have owned was a small Konica Minolta digital compact camera with a whopping 4Mpx sensor. Before that I had been taking some photos with my parents old film camera.

Is there anything special you carry with you on shoots? 

No, not really anything special. It depends a quite a lot of the stuff I´m shooting and what time of the year it is. Shell jacket is kind of must in the ever changing nordic weather we have here in the North Europe. Also what I usually have with me are first aid kit, multitool of some kind and a cup to drink from. How do you choose gear for different projects? 

Like I mentioned earlier I usually try to have a as compact camera setup with me as possible. But for example in shoots where I don´t move around that much like events or such I can have pretty much all the gear with me. 

On outdoor and action sport shoots I usually think about that where we are going to go and what we are going to shoot. If I know that the shoot is going to be really mobile I will try get the camera setup as small as possible. For example Sony A9 body with Batis 25/2, Sony 55/1.8, Sony 70200/4 is really compact and light weight setup. Also one factor that determines the camera equipment I bring with me is the area I´m going to do most of the shooting. For example if we are shooting most of photos in forest I will bring more wide-angle lenses with me. Also the same If we are for example skiing couloirs. If we are mostly going to shoot over the treeline in alpine I might have more of ”longer” lenses with me and maybe the 35mm is the widest on those kind of shoots.

Which piece of gear would you never leave at home? 

There is no specific camera or lenses I would´t leave at home. It all depends of the shoot. But what I always want to have with me is the Peak Desing camera clips. It is really nice to have the camera on hand all the time and like that you can capture some really cool moments you wouldn’t be able to to get if the camera would be inside the backpack. 

Does your gear sometimes take a pounding to get the shots you’re known for? 

Yeah almost all the time. Specially on winter time the weather can be a bit harsh to the equipment. -30*C degree temperatures and heavy snowfalls will but the equipment under some serious stress. Also I usually like to push my own limits while skiing or mountain biking and usually take a tumble here and there, and of course the equipment in my back feels those ones too. That said I haven´t broken any equipment yet.

Any items you wish you could add to your bag?

Sony Alpha mirrorless system now has all the essential lenses I need in my work. But one fun lens to have if Sony would ever develop one would be their own wide-angle tilt shift lens. I think I have pretty much all the other gear I could think of. I think it is more what I´m willing to carry with me in the bag.

Any tips for aspiring photographers? 

You need to have real passion to photography and shoot a lot of different stuff. I have shot and still do all kinds of commercial shoots, press, events, weddings, portraits, street photography, Landscape, sports and outdoors. I think when you photograph almost everything you will get to a lot of situations where you are not that comfortable with and overcoming those situations you will become a better photographer at the end.  

To see more of Jaakko's work, head over to his Facebook and make sure to follow him on Instagram

In A Flash: Shooting the Perfect Key Visual

Red Bull Illume In A Flash returns with its latest installment, focused on the most crucial element of any commercial campaign; the key visual.

Shooting a striking key visual is no easy task and it's something that comes down to the finest details. Use the pointers in the video above to help you along the way.

It all starts with brainstorming - nail down the concept and the message you want the visual to bring across. What definitely helps is scribbling what you want your final product to look like, this will help guide you while you're shooting.

Organize the shoot - do you need models, a location or props? Will you shoot in- or outdoors? How are you going to shoot? How many people do you need? These are all things to consider before you head out to the shoot.

Spend some time doing test shots. Make sure you've got your settings dialed in, so that when it's crunchtime, you're good to go and you know you'll get the shots you wanted.

Edit your shots. This is where you make your key visual really shine and come together.

Want more photo tips? Make sure to check out our other In A Flash videos by heading over to our YouTube channel!

Wakeboarding meets Architecture

Danish action sports photographer Jesper Grønnemark is known for pushing boundaries when it comes to photography and has an eye for incorporating objects or elements into his photos that you wouldn't think of. For his latest project, he fused elements of architecture with wakeboarding. Read the full story and see the results below...

© Jesper Gronnemark

How do you push the boundaries of what people believe possible in sports photography?

That exact question is the drive behind Jesper Grønnemark, who as a sports-photographer has become used to facing situations with a flexibility and fast thinking only few can brag about.

Location! Location! Location!

The shoot was in a small canal located in front of the Tietgen Residence Hall. A wish to combine sports-photography with architecture contributed to the selection of this very untraditional wakeboard scenario in the heart of Copenhagen.

“I saw this location a couple of years ago, and thought it was perfect for a wakeboard shoot. It is a minimalistic setup, but there is a great contrast between the murky water and the clean lines of the building”.

Did you hear the story about the two guys in the canal?

A wakeboarder in a small canal by the Tietgen Residence Hall is a rare sight and it attracts quite a few curious people. In the different tall houses around the shoot, people gathered in their windows to see what was going on.

Jesper floats in the water in a wetsuit and gets out of the water several times, running around to keep warm; a great example of Jesper’s dedication and hard work getting the perfect image.

The cold and not too clean water doesn’t stop wakeboarder Dres Damgaard either. He gets in as soon as the winch, which will pull him towards the bridge, is on.

“It was quite a challenge I had given myself. The water was very cold, so it didn’t take long before Dres and I were freezing. I had to use a lot of energy not to shake when Dres was being pulled by the winch, and I had to take pictures.”

Patience and equipment

This was an assignment that required patience, endurance and precision to create a great result, but it also demanded having the right equipment.

“This situation puts high demands on the equipment to function each and every time. Since I couldn’t afford to miss a shot it was amazing shooting with the flash system I use, which delivers the power, quality and speed necessary.”

So long, summer!

The Scandinavian summer sun is slowly setting, it has been a tough shoot for both Jesper and Dres. Even though they are tired, wet and longing to go home and take a shower, there is still a sense of satisfaction in the air. The hard work paid off and the images are even better than anticipated.

To see more of Jesper's work, head over to his Instagram, but not before checking out the results and some behind the scenes shots below!