Red Bull Illume submission numbers you should know

Two weeks after Red Bull Illume submissions closed, the dust has finally settled. After receiving a record 34,624 images, our judges have whipped out their monocles in search of the world’s greatest action and adventure sports photographs. See what they've found so far.

Red Bull Illume 2010: Ricky Adam, Close Up category finalist

© Ricky Adam

Here's a look at some of the more interesting numbers to come out of the judging process to date:

11 – the percentage of females (out of 5,642 registrations) who entered Red Bull Illume in 2016. Find out why Krystle Wright thinks the number should be higher.

49 – the percentage of submissions from photographers who do it for a living. 41% claim to be amateurs, while 10% are trigger-happy students.

12 – the amount of different camera brands used to capture the 34,624 submissions.

3 – the preferred camera choices: Canon, Nikon and Sony.

2040 – the amount of submissions stored on G-Technology external drives on photographer's desks. 

45 – the percentage of entrants who label themselves as ‘adventure sports’ photographers. Bike sports, water sports and winter sports are some of the other popular disciplines.

89 – the number of photographers who only started shooting seriously last year (2015).

2 – the amount of photographers who first started capturing images in the 50's – about the same time photographer Sam Shaw shot the famous "flying skirt" image of Marilyn Monroe.

What the stats can never show is the truly breathtaking quality of all 2016 submissions. Stay tuned to in the coming weeks as we introduce a sneak peak of some of the images and the incredible photographers who shot them.

For more regular updates, head to Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

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In Search of Innovation – with Jaanus Ree!

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 has a new category: Innovation by Sony. Nowadays with so many photography websites and apps available, we see more images each day than ever before. So how can you find something truly ‘innovative’ to submit to this category? We asked Illume legend Jaanus Ree!

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume

Tell us a little about you!

I am Jaanus Ree I am from and based in Estonia. I started my photographic career with shooting windsurfers as I did it myself as well. I enjoyed photography so much that I also started to find challenges with other sports. Today I am known mostly as a rally photographer but I do work with some other athletes as well occasionally. 

Your image of the cat in the Image Quest 2016 was one of the most innovative angles we’ve ever seen. How often do people ask you if it was Photoshopped?

Thanks! Often, too often. But to be honest I was expecting that and this is why we also shot the same shot on a film once we had secured it on digital. It was on black and white film and camera jammed after every exposure. I was pretty sure it did not work. Imagine the surprise when I got it back from development and everything was perfect. However, I submitted the color one as it looked better.

Are you always thinking of what could be the next innovative image, or do you prefer to let it come to you?

Both! With the cat photo my girlfriend had asked me to shoot some photos of our cat. So, I thought up something a little different...!
With skate shot everything was there, it was just a quick thought and realization.

With so many images available on social media sites, is it harder to create a newly innovative image now compared to the last Image Quest?

Actually, I think it’s even easier… you have so much of inspiration so easily reachable!

Are there any photographers out there that you think are truly innovative?

Definitely! Lorenz Holder, Dan Vojtech, Dave Lehl and many more! All of the past finalists of the Red Bull Illume competition have something seriously innovative in their works, that’s what makes the Image Quest so great!

What’s the best piece of advice you could give photographers that want to enter the Innovation category?

Take risks to capture something different! 

Will you be submitting to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019?

Yep! First shots already uploaded!

You can submit to the Innovation by Sony category right here!

Innovation by Sony

Decades of innovation have made Sony one of the recognizable names in the camera world – here’s why they are the perfect partner for Red Bull Illume!

© William Struntz / Red Bull Illume

Red Bull Illume is more than happy to have Sony on board for the second time in a row as a key partner to the world’s best adventure and action sport imagery contest. The reason they’re back again? Because it’s a perfect partnership – just like us, Sony is all about excellent photography – and innovation.

Sony’s ground-breaking innovation has kept their cameras in the hands of past Red Bull Illume winners like Chris Burkard. Their dedication to bringing mirrorless cameras up to and beyond the capabilities of DSLRs has earned them an incredibly influential position in the content-creation world – one that they’re furthering every day. They know what photographers need to innovate creatively: Inspiration, athletes who can push limits of possibility, a little bit of early morning or late evening light helps – but one thing that can’t be left behind is technically capable tools.

That’s why they are making cameras ideally suited to Red Bull Illume photographers; perfect for capturing the kind of high-speed, faster-than-the-eye-can-see action in board sports, bike sports, aerial or any other adventure and action sports. That’s nowhere more apparent than in the Sony Alpha α9, their full frame mirrorless body that can pop off a stunning 20 frames per second with no buffering, using one of the best autofocus tracking systems in the world that simply doesn’t blink. Sounds like the ideal shooting companion for you? Well, by entering the Image Quest 2019 you might have more chance of owning one than you think!

Of course, there’s another reason Sony makes such a great partner for Red Bull Illume. They’ve long been video experts, and we’ve now introduced the Moving Image category – clips from 5 – 30 seconds are permitted. Since Red Bull Illume is all about quality and innovation, this isn’t just about mounting an action camera– high-quality tools like a proper camera body and lens, and the skills to know how to use could potentially help content creators score points here. 

But, ultimately, it’s that core value – innovation – also makes them an excellent sponsor the Innovation by Sony Category, where judges will look not only for stunning images, but those that approach photography in a new way. Just what that innovation is? Entirely up to the photographer – it can be technical, artistic, thematic – as long as it shows demonstrates intention to innovate. We really can’t wait to see what you submit!

All the phenomenal shots in this story were shot on Sony cameras! Check them out below.

The Playground Category: Where Photographers & Athletes Play

French Photographer and former Playground category finalist Vince Perraud tells Red Bull Illume why seeking new spots to shoot is in the essence of adventure and action sports photography!

© Vince Perraud / Red Bull Illume

Vince Perraud is predominantly a BMX photographer, who shot to fame in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2013 as a double finalist in the Playground category. His images are a juxtaposition of insane tricks and epic locations perfected through years on the road.

The Playground category is one of eleven categories now open to submission in the Image Quest 2019. It is a dedicated category for epic images showcasing not only the athlete, but the landscapes, locations, platforms, and environments in which they play.

The judges are in a position to elevate each category winner to new heights; with a place at Winner Award Ceremony, and incredible photography equipment included in the prize list (link). It’s vital that your image meets the description of the category perfectly, as each judge will have this in mind when voting!

We caught up with Vince this week and we’re sure that his words below will inspire you to visit, and re-visit many different spots in search of that spectacular Playground shot that could see you crowned as a winner!

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Hey! okay I’ve been taking pictures for about 15 years! I was always passionate about BMX but realized early on that I was better behind a camera. I come from Burgundy which is great for wine but nothing much... I studied art for 5 years but needed freedom so I started going on trips with my friends to document the BMX way of life. I was on the road for almost 8 years working for various magazines, that was the good life! Now I live in Biarritz which is an amazing for location for weather, landscape, people... love it!

How does it feel to work in places where people play?

Haha good question! I have never considered myself to be working while I was shooting BMX, just having fun with my friends!

What motivates you to get out there and find new playgrounds?

I think it’s the essence of adventure and action sports to constantly look at new spots! You always want new stuff to ride. I always liked to explore new areas, cities, even countries... and it’s a great way to build the relationship between the riders and the photographers.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give photographers that are looking for a unique location for a shoot?

I would say don’t scared to be explore a lot! And sometimes to re-check places that you already scouted, places are constantly changing - and so are your eyes..!

Will we see entries to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 from you?

I hope so!!

Have you got great Playground images that need to be shared with the world? You can submit now to this category!

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 submissions are officially open!

Submissions for the world´s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest are open now until July 31, 2019.

© Oskar Enander / Red Bull Illume

Submit your top images to the fifth edition of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019, open now until July 31, 2019. We are ready and waiting for your incredible images, plus the best part is that this year it’s easier than ever to enter. How easy could it be, you ask? All you need is an existing e-mail or social media account to submit your images.

We suggest entering as many categories as possible to broaden your chances of winning, but consider what you enter into each category; it influences the judges’ selection – so choose wisely!

In parallel to the main competition is the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category. All you need to do to is post your most gram-worthy moments on Instagram and tag @redbullillume and #rbi19submission to your account. There have already been 3 monthly winners announced, with 2 more to go. It could be you!

Got your adventure and action sports shots ready to go? Submit as soon as possible – we can´t wait to see your best work!

Submit your images NOW!

Red Bull Illume Grand Prizes: Even More Reason to Enter

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 prize packages include some serious camera equipment and accessories for each category winner and the overall winner.

© Morgan Maassen / Red Bull Illume

This year, the grand prizes get even grander. With the introduction of new categories and sponsors, the 11 category winners will pick up an incredible set of prizes valued at €100,000, to help them take even more incredible adventure and action shots.

Each category winner will pick up this unbelievable set of prizes:

  • The phenomenal Sony Alpha a7 III camera kitted out with the 24-105mm F4 G Master lens.
  • A bundle of memory cards & mobile workflow solutions from storage specialist SanDisk.
  • The award-winning company, Skylum, will provide photo-editing software including Luminar 3 and their Signature Presets. Skylum will also present a special prize for the winner of the ‘Creative by Skylum’ category, welcoming the winner as part of the Global Skylum Ambassador Team.
  • Red Bull Photography will award the winner of the ‘Emerging by Red Bull Photography’ category a spot at the Red Bull Rising Talent photography workshop in 2020. This includes travel, accommodation, and board expenses.
  • To top it all off, COOPH will provide high quality photography apparel and accessories to keep them equipped and protected for upcoming shoots.

In addition to this, the overall winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 will win a shooting experience with the SanDisk Extreme Team and take home the Sony Alpha a9 camera with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens from the G-Master range. The perfect camera for capturing high-speed action and adventure moments. It’s the perfect prize for the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019.

The 55 finalists will earn a place at the Winner Award Ceremony in November 2019; a gathering of the most influential photography people in the world. They’ll also gain immense exposure as their images tour around the world in the Global Exhibit Tour and be featured in the limited-edition Coffee Table Book. Stay tuned for further announcements on this, coming soon!

So, what are you waiting for? Submit your photos here!

The 5 simple steps to entering Red Bull Illume!

How to enter the world’s greatest adventure and action sport contest? It’s simple as counting to five.

1. Capture awesome images

You’ve gotta get the shot – there’s no cutting corners here. The only way to have success in Red Bull Illume is with amazing imagery, so go out and start snapping – or, combing through your archives. Any image taken after March 31, 2016 is eligible for the contest!

2. Sign in on

Don’t worry – it’s just a few clicks on the website to get registered – and you can even use your existing social media accounts to do it. You’ll want to read the Rules, and FAQs – but some important ones are that there’s no image manipulation (except for the Creative by Skylum category), you’ll have to be able to provide RAW images, and you can submit up to ten images per category.   

3. Choose from 10 categories

One of the most important aspects of entering the contest – the categories. The judges will be making their selections with the categories in mind – so read the category descriptions, and choose carefully – a loser in one category could be a winner in another. A couple of the categories have unique rules – Best of Instagram by SanDisk can only be entered via your Instagram account, Emerging is only for photographers under 25 years of age, the RAW category is for images straight out of your camera, and Creative by Skylum – well, anything goes!

4. Upload your images

OK, we’re going to need some bandwidth – literally. For photographs, they need to be in JPG format, at a minimum of 8 megapixels. For the moving image category, they need to be in MP4 format, and between 5 – 20 seconds long. Again, you’ll need to provide RAW images if selected as a finalist! One more note – do yourself a favor and upload early. Even though the deadline is in July, it’s a good idea to get ahead of the game so you don’t find yourself facing crawling upload speeds just minutes before the deadline.

5. Click ‘Submit’!

Once an image has been submitted, it is final, and can’t be replaced by another image.

That’s it – it’s quite literally that easy. Follow these five steps, and you’re in the world’s greatest adventure sport and action imaging contest – so start submitting, now!

Joining forces with EyeEm to introduce a new category.

A new category in partnership with EyeEm is added to the fifth edition of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019.

© Matt Horspool / EyeEm

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 is proud to partner with the EyeEm Awards, introducing a new category called ‘Masterpiece by EyeEm’. EyeEm is the creative content hub designed to connect brands and photographers, all through their app.

The EyeEm Awards is the largest photography competition in the world, having broken the record in 2015, they still hold onto the title with over 1 million submissions predicted for 2019. The 55 finalist images will be expanded by the addition of 9 more through our partnership with the EyeEm Awards, from a new category called, ‘The Great Outdoors by Red Bull Illume’.

We’re proud to brag about this partnership because, well, it fits. We believe in bringing the passion and creativity of photographers to light and that’s exactly what both awards shows do. We provide a platform for amazing imagery, and seeing as Red Bull Illume Image Quest is all about getting out there and shooting incredible action and adventure imagery, we’re all about ‘The Great Outdoors’.

To enter your incredible images into The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019, check back after midnight (CEST) on May 1.

To find out more about the EyeEm Awards, visit

Go on then, get that perfect shot!

April Best Of Instagram By Sandisk Winning Image Is Out Of This World!

Fabien Maierhofer wanted to see if it was possible to ski on the moon, and now this picture is taking him to new heights!

The Best of Instagram by SanDisk category in Red Bull Illume is picking up steam – in April, thousands of images were submitted, and a record number of photography fans cast their vote for their favorite shot! We’re pleased to announce the third monthly winner of this category: Fabien Maierhofer from France, whose shot made us ask a question we’d never considered before: can you ski… in a space suit? Clearly, the answer is yes!

Fabien stated: “I’m so happy to win, it’s unbelievable! I spent a lot of time in my career as an athlete working for my sponsors and now I’m really more about content creation than performance. The chance to win the April Best of Instagram by SanDisk category confirms to me that I have chosen the right direction and gives me motivation to progress in this way. It’s really important for me and I really thank the community for voting for me this month!”

And here’s the winning shot:

Sometimes, you’ve just got to have fun. This shot was just one of 25 amazing images chosen by the Red Bull Illume internal judging panel. It beat out some other incredible shots from renowned Red Bull Illume photographers from previous editions of the Image Quest.

The image was shot while Fabien filmed a behind the scenes video of the project ‘Moontain Skiing’.

“They invited me to make a behind the scenes video but the guys in space suits on skis looks so ‘out of time’, that I decided to make some pictures too.

We went at the Col de L’Izoard, the perfect place to for this project to come to life. For the making of video I also tried to ski on rocks… and it’s not as easy as it looks!

Since I was a kid, Mad Max always scared me... and what I love about this particular picture is that I can see a  kind of apocalyptic look of what it could be like skiing without snow in the future, reminiscent of the movies.”

Submissions for next month begin May 1 and runs two weeks through May 14, followed by a one week voting period. To enter, photographers need only post their image on Instagram with the tags @redbullillume and #rbi19submission.

They said it: April Top 25 (part 2)

Part 2 of our story where we hand over to the photographers looking for votes in this month's Best of Instagram by SanDisk category. Read, view, and enjoy!

Once you’re ready to vote for the April winner, click here! 

© Abdo Magdy / Red Bull Illume

Me and friend Hany decided to take extraordinary shot from different angle for his parkour moves and I said to mix between the Architectural view and his flip In that place

© Adam Klingeteg / Red Bull Illume

It was the most beautiful day. The stars aligned and the new snow was way fluffier than expected, which we took full advantage of with a 9 hour long day up on the mountain. It was just too good to leave. I wanted the photo to have something more than just a rider and a big white cloud. So I added some snow on the lens to create the flares - Which always is a though task since the lens is super cold and the sun pretty warm. Gotta be quick and there’s no second chance on making it just right!

© Alfredo Moran / Red Bull Illume

I will never forget that afternoon of free flight in paragliding in front of the Popocatépetl. The recent activity of this volcano has given us incredible landscapes and one of the signs of the strength of nature before how small we are. Location: Chalchihuapan, Puebla, Mexico. Pilot on frame: Alex Gru, Mexico.

© Christian Pondella / Red Bull Illume

Will Gadd ice climbs in a moulin on the Greenland ice cap near Ilulissat, Greenland on October 14, 2018. After days of exploration in the moulin Will finally got the chance to ice climb allowing us to create some really unique climbing images in one of the wildest places we have ever been!

© Domenic Mosqueira / Red Bull Illume

An angle rarely seen at Teahupoo, from the inside of the impact zone of the wave and rider. Shot while tracking the wave on a jetski. Needed a clean swell and good conditions and on this day and frame it all came together.

© Emiliano Meucci / Red Bull Illume

I belive this photo is the testament of how hard is to ride this DIY Skatepark and how the skater where fully committed, charging this corner full speed. I told my self not to stop shooting even if the board was coming straight at me, I knew from experience that sometimes that unplanned element can add an extra layer to the photo, so I kept shooting till the board hit my forearm. The Rider walked away from the fall and kept skating like nothing happen.

© Fabien Maierhofer / Red Bull Illume

We tried to make a video about skiing on the moon last summer. The video is fun but all the pictures look 'out of time'. This is the making of video!

© Federico Ravassard / Red Bull Illume

It was shot in an abandoned quarry in the middle of Italy. Those kind of places are just perfect for skateboarding, because the rocks are cut in perfectly smooth shapes. Hope to continue in the quest!

© Frode Sandbech / Red Bull Illume

If the moon pops out when I am shooting, I will always look for angles and if it is possible to incorporate it into a photo. Most of the time the location doesn’t let it happen, but once in a while the situation is right and I am able to create these in-camera illusions. In this particular one we got Yuki Kadono walking on the moon!

© Geoff Coombs / Red Bull Illume

On a clear spring day in Lake Huron, AIDA freediver Andrew Ryzebol swims between a cathedral of bubbles rising from scuba divers deep below.

© Ebrahim Adam / Red Bull Illume

This photo was taken on one weekend when I travelled to the state of Johor in Malaysia to meet some local skaters and BMX riders. It was a 100km bike ride from my home to the skatepark. I had just bought a new drone and wanted to try capturing images using it. The sky was overcast the whole time. At around 4pm, the sun streaked out from the clouds. As I was observing the guys pulling the tricks, the shadows casted resembled the sketches from the old 'Etch a Sketch' toy I used to play when I was young. I flew my drone and focused on one of the skater as he was doing an Ollie flip on one of the curb. I took some images using the burst mode. The images look odinary until I toggle it left and right repeatedly and saw them forming a smooth sequential action. Back at home, I took all 3 images, stitched them together in Photoshop. I chose one of the image of the skater as the main layer and kept the 3 shadows to show the sequence of the trick.

Backside tube-riding is probably the best, hardest but most stylish part of surfing! Here is the view from underwater during the morning light at one of the heaviest wave in the world : Teahupo’o.

In their own words: April Top 25 (part 1)

With 25 images to choose between each month of the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category, voting for a winner isn’t always easy!

This month to help persuade the public we decided to give the photographers a line each to describe their image and how it was created to help voters make their decision. So check below to find out more about the story behind the shots!

Once you’re ready to vote for the April winner, click here! 

© Yhabril / Red Bull Illume

Oreo´s Wrath - We climbed the mountain very soon that morning looking for another shot we planned days before , but when we saw that wind lip we decided to go for this shot.  I decided I wanted that angry face on the right of the mountain in my frame, so I had to climb the mountain in front of that one. Oreo is the god of the mountains in Scandinavian mythology, in the image, the mountain is looking with wrath to the human that profanes it’s sanctuary.

© Tristan Shu / Red Bull Illume

This photo was shot as part of a photoshoot for Elinchrom. The team pulled another crazy stunt in Turkey and turned air into their own playground. You can see the full behind the scenes here.

© Stefan Mahlknecht / Red Bull Illume

I've seen this crazy rock formations years ago. I knew that there has to be done something special, so I asked my buddy Benjamin if it would be possible to install a highline there. After getting some local permissions we finally did the project on a pretty cold fall day. I was totally blown away by that scene, so it took me some seconds to get the first shots. 

© Sam Strauss / Red Bull Illume

In summer 2018 I was part of a wakeboard winch project we called “Falling Rocks“. We spent 12 days in this quarry to try something new in the world of wakeboarding. On the last two days of the production Timo Kappl, our friend and one of the most talented youngsters around, showed up after we invited him to ride a nice special feature. This was one of the very last photos i took after shooting non-stop close to two weeks.

© Sam Bié / Red Bull Illume

Climbers love what is beautiful to climb, easy or hard, high or short... In the south of France, in a small forest, we found old quarries with surrealist lines where the perspectives deceive the eye and the artificial aesthetic surpasses the natural. Arno Catzeflis on the first climb of the “Diédrissime”, 6a at the quarry of Beaulieu, France.

© Ryan Moss / Red Bull Illume

This photo is called 'Night Sky'. Boulder Problem: C.C.D.V.A. Rating: V10. Special thanks to the climber Justin Ridgely!

© Phil de Glanville & Ren McGann / Red Bull Illume

The shot was taken at The Right in Western Australia’s South West by Ren McGann and edited by Phil de Glanville. The surfer is Chris Shanahan

© Nitish Waila / Red Bull Illume

I was waiting for the Supermoon to rise above my home country India and missed one chance. I was tracking the lunar calendar since then and in March 2019 just 10 days before the Super worm moon, the last supermoon of this year, I went on to a ninja mode to plan and execute this shoot. After a few days of recce in the burning summer heat of Hampi, we finally found the right boulder to climb and that's when things started to turn in place and eventually landed me this shot.

© Matthias Fritzenwallner / Red Bull Illume

The shot is from our Japan (Kiroro Resort) trip last winter. We were four motivated Austrian guys who wanted to explore the backcountry and awesome powder of Hokkaido. On our search for the perfect spot, we found this huge tree. I tried to find the right angel to capture the perfect moment and get an artistic and unique photo when Dani Maurer jumped through the tree.

© Marjan Radovic / Red Bull Illume

Three wakeboarders pulled off a first with a twist for their sport, using a crane to shift them over a floating course made up of obstacles and kickers created entirely out of shipping containers. German duo Dominik Gührs and Felix Georgi, and Austrian Dominik Hernler were inspired to come up with the project after watching a water skier being put through their paces in a YouTube clip!

© Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

It was actually one of those days, where you think if it even makes sense to go up on the mountain. It was foggy, cold and hard to see any contours. But after 3 cups of coffee, we had enough and gave it a try. We navigated through the fog and built a jump. Austin Smith gave it a try tweaking it.. And just 5 minutes after I got the shot, the fog got even thicker and we barely found the lift station on the way back!

© Jimmy Schaffrath / Red Bull Illume

This spot is actually in my hometown. It had been on my spotlist for over 7 years but couldn't find anyone who would try and jump it. The runoff has several poles that you need to land in between. On that particular day Jack Niereath came to my city to film for his video part. As he got a sick clip on another spot I took him to this one while the adrenaline was still pumping. I scrambled to get my camera and angle, couple minutes later we were high-fiving and filled with pure joy.

© Jason Halayko / Red Bull Illume

Had a fun shoot with Tokura under some amazing Sakura trees here in Tokyo. Always love these relaxed / fun shoots and now that it’s finally getting warmer I want to head out more! Thanks Tokura!!

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.. and don't forget to vote!