Shooting Red Bull BC One, how the battle was won

Shooting Red Bull BC One, how the battle was won

Red Bull Reporter sent talented young photographer Peter Tweedie on his most extraordinary assignment yet: to fly to Japan to shoot Red Bull BC One.

16 B-Boys from around the world rocked the Yoyogi Stadium in the heart of Tokyo in November for the seventh edition of the B-Boy battle event in front of 3,000 hyped fans.  The battles between the world’s best dancers were phenomenal.  The growing legend that is Neguin from Brazil, convinced everyone again and won the title based on his incredible athleticism and ability to entertain and surprise, battle after battle.

However, for Peter Tweedie, it wasn’t all about the event. Although already super-experienced in the B-Boy scene in the UK, Peter had a different set of problems than impressing a jury consisting of two-time Red Bull BC One champion Lilou and the legendary Ken Swift from the infamous Rock Steady Crew. Peter had to deliver killer images that brought across the energy of the contest and attitude of the dancers, just to do justice to the event and creativity of the dancers.

Q: Working in Tokyo must have been mind-blowing. Temples, gambling halls, skyscrapers and karaoke bars, geishas and sumo wrestlers. Did you have any concepts for shooting the event itself or on any pre-shoots in Tokyo?
Mind-blowing is exactly the word for it.  The culture and way of life is so different to the West.  It was all the subtle social differences that really had me fascinated; especially the way they go about their daily routine.  The fashion out there was amazing too, very fresh and completely different to how people dress in the UK where I’m from.

It was amazing to be sent by Red Bull Reporter as I’ve wanted to visit Japan my whole life so the opportunity to go and shoot dance was incredible. I got a very open brief from the Red Bull Reporter team, which gave me freedom to be creative. I did my research before going, the culture there, potential locations and had some ideas in place for whatever came up when I arrived.

We ended up trying to get our bearings in Tokyo by comparing the different neighbourhoods in London to the areas in Tokyo. For example, Harujuku was akin to Brick Lane or Camden and Shinjuku had elements of Liverpool Street with the suited commuters.  

Q: To be a good B-Boy photographer, you really have to understand the moves and know what's coming next, or you won't get great shots. What's your experience of shooting B-boys and crews?
Everyone goes through that stage in their life when you're really inspired as a kid, to push the sofas to the side and try and copy what you see others doing. For most people that's as far as it goes but some of my friends got hooked and now live the B-boy lifestyle, so I've always been around the scene.

Sometimes I do wish I had the same dedication as my mates for training and improving their dance but I developed the same level of passion and dedication to my photography and that's my main passion in life.  I still have the deepest appreciation for dance and the whole philosophy behind the B-boy scene and dance in general.  It also means I know enough to be able to direct the dancers. When you know the moves, styles and just have that knowledge, it really helps you to get the shots quickly which is really important when you only get a short time to shoot, like I had in Japan.

Q: How tough is it to get the timing right and capture the action?
I regularly shoot boxing, kick boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) which has really helped me develop a natural instinct for timing as shooting fights in a ring or cage is very similar timing-wise to shooting dance battles.  I also play and shoot a lot of different sports which really helps.

Q: What equipment, settings and lighting did you use? Did you have to shuffle your settings much for the indoor lighting? Did you try anything much different on the pre-shoot?
I got two chances to shoot. First was the media day where I got 5-10 minutes to shoot with some of the performers, the other was the event itself.  Because I only got a small amount of time with the performers individually I had to get the shoot done quickly.  It was a balance between taking a risk and trying a technically challenging set up but risk not getting the shot if I didn’t hit it first time; or playing safe and shooting what I knew I could get quickly.  

I ended up doing a little of both, capturing the safe shot of the dancer standing in the first few minutes before their routine then using the rest of the time to capture a dance move from a more unusual angle.  

I had seen photos from the previous years so had an idea of what to expect and the type of shots I wanted, so it was just a matter of making the most of the position I had with the available light, as the event went by so fast.

Kit wise I had two cameras, my main camera was a Canon 5D mk2 body and I switched between the Canon 24-70mmL and Canon 70-200mmL f2.8 lenses. My second camera was a Canon 40d body with a 10-22mm lens to capture any wider shots I spotted (and also as a back up body if something happened to the 5D).  I also had a Canon 580ex flash on each camera and a canon wireless trigger for if I got a chance to spend time setting up for more creative shots.  

Settings wise I wasn’t allowed to use flash in the venue so a fast shutter speed to freeze the action was my top priority, so I kept it above 1/320th or a second for most action shots.  I was worried whether the lighting would be powerful enough at the venue to achieve this and still keep a large enough depth of field without having to raise the ISO to levels to where the noise was too noticeable. But the 5D mk2 handled it brilliantly.

Q: There were 3,000 pumped fans in the Yoyogi stadium. B-boying is one of those things were photographs of the audience can be just as stylish and interesting. Did you try and capture the atmosphere?
The atmosphere was amazing! Watching videos is great but only by being there can you really get an understanding of the hype, atmosphere, and electricity coursing through the room.

There is one shot I'm particularly proud of which was when Big Daddy Kane was performing and for a brief few seconds he picked out one guy in the audience for a few moments, and it became like a one on one performance as the spotlight fell on both of them even though there were still thousands of people in the crowd going crazy.

Q: Which shots blew you away?
The pre-shots with Lilou, as I respect him so much as a dancer and as he is the only B-Boy to win the event twice, it was great to work with him and capture him in an freeze with the amazing Olympic venue in the background.  

There are also a few of the action shots where I feel I've managed to capture the facial expression combined with the power and expression through body language to really sum up the exchange between the two dancers.

The sequence of shots where Luigi loses his shoe and Just Do It taunts him by using his shoe as a phone whilst he's still throwing down tells a great story. It was the turning point when that battle was won and lost in a series of three photos.

If you are based in the UK and want the opportunity to photograph for Red Bull Reporter, register at www.redbullreporter.com.


www.petertweedie.com

Read the latest stories

Shooting wide with adventure and action sports photographer Jason Halayko

Jason explains why and how to shoot with wide-angle lenses - so you don't get kicked in the head by a break dancer. Experience is wisdom!

© Jason Halayko

1. Why shoot wide for adventure and action sports photography?

I find there are several reasons I use a wide-angle lens while shooting adventure and action sports photography. By using a wide lens, you can get really close in on the action and capture dynamic angles that put the viewer in a position they would almost never be able to achieve on their own. Also, a lot of times I will want to put both the take off and the landing (along with the sick action of course) all in one photo. By using a wide-angle lens I can do this while also being closer to the action myself, which is often more practical when thinking about having to move around quickly at a busy event. Another advantage of using wide-angle (especially fisheye) lenses is that it can make your subject seem to be jumping quite a bit higher than they actually are. I will use this when shooting smaller jumps to make them more exciting for the viewer and more epic for the athlete as well.

2. Which wide-angle lenses are in your bag?

I currently have a Nikon 16mm fisheye, Nikon 24mm 1.4 prime, and a Nikon 24-70mm 2.8.

3. What’s the biggest challenge with wide-angle lenses?

I would say one of the biggest challenges I have had shooting wide-angle lenses would be safety. With these lenses (again, especially the fisheye) you end up getting much closer than you realize at times. I have been millimeters away from a snowboarder, been almost hit by motorbikes, and even got kicked in the head by a breakdancer once at a Red Bull BC One event. It hurt, but everyone was fine, hahaha.

Also, when shooting with wide-angle lenses you get so much more in your image than you would with a 200mm lens, so you really need to be aware of what you are capturing other than just the action. Is your camera bag in the shot? Are people you don’t want there in the shot?

4. A 200mm lens is usually recommended for shooting football. Why is this different when it comes to adventure and action sports?

Compared to shooting football, practicality wise, it would be impossible to have even one photographer on the pitch shooting up close with a wide-angle lens. They would get in the way and be a danger to themselves and the players they are trying to capture. However, during most adventure or action sports events, take skateboarding for example, it is possible to have a few photographers inside the park shooting right up close to the action. I have shot like this in the past and it can be quite intense, but very fun for sure. You just have to be aware of what’s going on.

Also, I think when shooting a sport like football you want more close up shots of just the player(s) with the ball so a 200mm plus lens is best for cutting out unwanted information and getting a nice dynamic action shot, but for adventure and action sports it can be very important to get the whole environment of the action in the shot. I find the best images give the viewer a real sense of where the action is taking place.

5. Any crucial tips for shooting fisheye?

Have courage to get close to the action, but safety should be your first concern. I find the best fisheye images are ones taken super up close to the action, literally having the camera several centimeters from the subject. However, by getting so close with your body you can be putting yourself and the athlete in unwanted danger, so I often hold the camera with one hand and hold out my arm while keeping my body back and ready to dive out of the way if needed (and I have done this in the snow a couple times).  When shooting in this way it can be difficult to properly frame, time, and focus your images though so shooting at a high frame rate while using a continuous focus mode can help you get more usable images as well. 

6. You’ve been trying out 360º cameras right?

I have recently picked up a 360 camera and have been enjoying playing with it for the last month or so. So far I have been mainly using it for my InstaStories and things like this, but as I learn better how to use it I think it would be fun to add a few 360 images here and there to my shots taken with my normal camera. With the current apps out there it is actually really easy to edit your images on the fly so I think adding a few 360 images to a stack of event shots is not all that impossible these days. I am excited to see what I can get with my 360 camera in the near future.

See more of Jason's work on his Website and Instagram.

Why Markus Berger went the extra mile to make these incredible images

Getting shots of athletes leading up to the Olympics is never easy – the Olympics likes it that way. Try to connect your visual material with anything vaguely Games-related, and you’re risking a lawsuit.

© Markus Berger

That’s just one reason why, when photographer Markus Berger was commissioned by Red Bull to produce a photo series with some of the participating athletes, he had to get creative. The other reason why? To make incredible photos, of course. The goal? Make the athletes look awesome – with a nod to a authentic Korean culture.

Markus explains. “We had athletes from different countries, performing different winter sports, and  wanted to come up with a concept that would tell the complete story in one striking visual,” says Markus. Not easy to imagine, and not easy to execute. “At first we were looking into manga art and other modern comic styles but had to accept that manga is 100% Japanese and that there is no specific comic style attributed to Korea. Our research then led us to traditional Korean painting, sketching and calligraphy. Teaming up with Korean artist Chan Jun Jung, we were able to create a harmonious mix of these art forms. We also created a story behind the images by adding creatures that either live in Korea, or are deeply bound to Korean mythology.”

What he created was a mix of the reality and fantasy – combining striking original art with striking poses. It’s an impressive feat – while the athletes (and art) were still, the final images were anything but.

More impressive: they did this in the brief moments between the athlete’s pre-Games training. Markus and his assistant custom-built a set that they could easily take apart and reassemble. This allowed them to bring the shoot to the athletes by transporting all their gear in two small trucks. 

"We ended up building and shooting at parking lots, school gyms and photo studios, often travelling more than 300km each day between the locations and shoots. Eventually, the whole project ended up being one big road trip that was really fun and brought the whole team together. By the end of it, the set-up just became automatic.”

To see more work from Markus, head over to his website, Facebook, Instagram and 500px.

Gallery: 7 Awe-Inspiring Climbing Shots

Climber or non-climber, there are certain perspectives that just make you stop and wonder. First, for the athletes that seem to blur the lines between dedication and daredevilry. Second, for the nature that these athletes are exposed to and third, for the photographers that accomplish astonishing feats of bringing these perspectives to life.

To get you out and on the wall, we present 7 images from Red Bull Illume that make our palms sweat

© Ken Etzel / Red Bull Illume

Feel inspired? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more adventure and action sports!

Shooting BMX in Morocco with Jason Colledge

The one crazy moment we did have on the trip was running away from the police I guess. That was a weird situation that didn't need to be like that.

© Jason Colledge

What are your basic stats?

My name is Jason Colledge, some people know me as Fooman. I am 29 years old from Torquay, England. I ride BMX and spend most of my time taking photos of BMX too.

How did you start shooting BMX?

Well I finished school not knowing what to do. I was doing carpentry with my Dad and had decided this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life. I was told I needed further education so I decided to do something fun. Art and design was my choice. The first year covered every aspect of art and the second year we were able to specialise what we studied. I chose photography. Taking photos of BMX was natural for me, as I had always ridden my BMX growing up.

You recently went to Morocco?

So I’m actually working for UnitedBikeCo as the brand/team manager and of course shooting photographs for them. We were out in Morocco to film the second instalment of a video series called “No Foreign Lands”. We are just a crew of friends doing what we love and documenting it as we go.

The crew consisted of Sebastian Anton, Fernando laczko, Ben Gordon, Harry Mills Wakley, Justin Care, Tom Deville and Filmer Peter Adam.

What were your impressions of Morocco and how was it shooting there?

This was my first time there and I really didn’t know what to expect. It was apparent that there isn’t a lot of money here but everyone seemed to be happy and very closely knit; just like one big community. The hospitality was incredible too. I’ve never felt so welcome before in my life. We had it pretty easy in all honesty; we stayed at a great hostel and were spoilt big time. We had a van and a spot guide to show us around all the spots so we couldn’t complain. As for taking photos, Morocco is probably every photographers dream. Everywhere you look posed as a photographic moment.

Morocco isn’t usually associated with action sports… how did the locals react?

To be honest this worked in our favour. We had one run in with security that resulted in the police being called out, but most of the time the locals or security would have no idea what we were up to and when we explained, they would encourage us to ride. I think they liked to see this as it was new to them.

What challenges did you face on the trip?

I think the most obvious challenge for everyone was the heat. Morocco is known for its 300 days of sun and we had picked a week that was forecasted to rain every day. We ended up with one day of rain and the rest was scorching hot sun, so I think finding shade was the biggest challenge. The only challenge I had whilst shooting photos would be carrying my heavy bag about in such heat. I managed to get a nose bleed whilst shooting a photo on one of the days due to the dry heat, it was so weird.

Does Morocco have its own BMX scene?

Morocco does have its own BMX scene, it was quite a small scene but the riders were super friendly and weren’t shy of killing it whilst we were there.

Any favourite from the trip?

I think a favourite moment for everyone, (apart from Justin), was trying all the local food on offer.

Another favourite would be riding the mopeds there. These things were everywhere and the locals were more than happy to let us jump on them and blast about which was super fun to do. The one crazy moment we did have on the trip was running away from the police I guess. That was a weird situation that didn’t need to be like that.

Where else have you shot BMX and what have been some of your favourite trips?

I am fortunate to have travelled quite a bit all from riding my bike and taking photos. I have travelled all over Europe, been to the States, Australia and now Africa. Every trip has its own quality so it is hard to choose a favourite. I get to hang out with friends and do what I love so it really is hard to pick one. Alicante on a “Young Bloods” trip is definitely up there though. This trip was pretty much perfect; four of my best friends, Harry Mills Wakley, Sam Jones, Jordan Godwin and Callum Earnshaw, plus beautiful weather with an endless amount of spots to ride. The party life was on point too.

What else do you shoot outside of BMX?

Well I do like to shoot pet portraits, sucker for that. Automotive photography is an aspect of photography I have always been fond of. I just like to shoot subjects that I have an interest in really.

Any tips or advice for aspiring action sport photographers?

Don’t be shy to try something different; if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work. It’s all trial and error. Learn from your mistakes. Oh and be prepared to carry a heavy bag full of camera equipment haha.

For a free zine about Jason’s trip to Morocco, ask your local Unitedbikeco dealer.

The video from the trip can be viewed here.

To see more of Jason’s work, check out his website and Instagram.

Shooting break dancers in the canals of Amsterdam with Broncolor

Add Dramatic Light with a Silver Beauty Dish

Bboy Shane and Bboy Menno dancing on a canal in Amsterdam

By Rutger Pauw

When I found out Red Bull Netherlands hosted the world finals of their BC One breakdance competition, I pitched an idea to them of having break dancers spinning and jumping on the water of an Amsterdam canal with out the use of post production.

They liked the idea, and we ended up building a wooden platform just under the water surface that supported the weight of the dancers, it was connected to a wooden jetty that was big enough to have our lights and crew on. With the photo taken from low down, the under water platform wasn’t noticeable, and it made for a very dynamic image.

I used a fisheye to get really close to the dancers, and get water splashes near the lens.

Two Siros L 400’s were used to light the dancers, with one of the lights holding a silver beauty dish on a boom stand, so the light could ‘hover’ above the water to get more dramatic light. The HS function made sure all those drops in the air were nicely frozen, although I ended up lowering the shutter speed just a little to get a tiny bit of movement in there, adding a feeling of movement.

Since this was a collaboration with Samsung, they were keen to also get some slow mo footage with their own Galaxy phone, which ended up being quite fun to experiment with. The modelling light on the Siros is flicker free,  and still very bright during the day, so I used them in the same position as in the still images to fill in the dancers, which gave us a nice light balance with the sun coming from the back.

About Rutger Pauw

The thing I like most about photography is that it’s like riding bikes. It allows me to come up with ideas and tricks I haven’t seen before. Somehow that’s what has always intrigued me most. It’s a little personal victory, maybe unnoticed by others but the feeling of having created something you haven’t seen before is why I take photos.

See the original story from Broncolor here.

Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Jaanus Ree shoots action sports… and his cat!

Very few action sports photographers will tell you their favorite photo is of their cat, but, here we are. Jaanus Ree, based out of Estonia, travels 300 days a year, and shoots almost everything under the sun.

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume

Your first ‘pro’ job wasn’t pro at all!  

I injured myself during a windsurfing competition. Since all the action was out in the sea, the only option to get close was in the media boat. So I borrowed a camera from a friend, and said that I am shooting for an Estonian newspaper. Not really true. The first day it was more about enjoying action on the water, but in the end it was all about getting some stunning photos. I started to love it and decided to get deeper into it. I enrolled in art school and shot everything from politics to plants! 

What’s your favorite image you’ve ever taken?

I love to answer this: it's a photo of my cat. People don’t know what to say! But seriously, it is one of my favourites… and it was even good enough to make it to the Red Bull Illume Finals. But besides that there are a lot of others: The Northern Lights project with golfers in Norway was stunning. A figure skater on a frozen bog, Jason Paul jumping into the airplane comes into the mind every time I board for a flight, and many more.  

What’s different and what’s similar in your work? 

All the sports I shoot involve athletes and nature or scenery. But every sport needs to have a different aproach. Although my main sports are rally and rally cross I try to do all sorts of other shoots as much as possible. They give me inspiration and new ideas to try in rally – or the other way around. I love playing around with lights... sometimes too much. 

You do not travel light.  

If I go to a rally event then I have around three bodies, 24-70, 20mm, 70-200, 24 tilt-shift, 85 tilt-shift, 85mm 1.4 for portraits, 16mm fisheye, Elinchrom ELD 500 and 1200, loads of PW transmitters. Depending on a specific event also 400mm. I have loads of selfmade gear from laser triggers to special tripods what I might carry around. I always have proper rain clothing and plastic bags as well as duct tape to protect the equipment when the weather turns bad. 

Most gear ever? 

If I go to a rally cross (rally on a circuit) then I pack some more lenses and cameras, and a few extra remotes. The maximum so far has been 7 cameras, 12 lenses , 15 transmitters.  It took 3 hours to prepare 10 minutes of shooting but then all the best locations were covered and I could only press a few buttons while watching the action! 

Are you an artist, or a technician? 

I’m a technician. I studied 2 years together with artists. It’s a bit different to the job I am doing today. Sure, some of my pictures can be displayed in galleries and exhibitions but I still call myself a photographer rather than an artist.

What’s more important: subject, lighting, or composition? 

The story of the picture – then composition and lighting. During my school year, I saw some photos that were out of focus with bad lighting, but super composition and story. The most interesting photos are the ones where something has been done differently to how you’d expect. 

What life lessons have you learned from photography? 

Maybe the most important is how to work with people you dont know. During my school years, we had to pick a random stranger from the street and follow him for a week to make a photo story about him. The hardest part was approaching the person to begin with. It still is, but somehow I have learned that a camera and a smile can melt all the tension. 

What’s the last thing you photographed? 

It was today in Buenos Aires airport - two security guys holding my flash batteries with confused looks on their faces as they decided whether to allow me to pass or not. The photo was great but they forced me to delete it.

Your favorite sport to shoot is… 

Rally! This sport covers so much terrain, from snowy Swedish forests to dusty Australian roads. Although the locations are almost the same every year, something always changes – the road itself, the weather, the time of the day. I have been to the same ‘water splash’ spot in Mexico three years in a row, and had totally different looking photos every time.

And is it dangerous? 

To shoot rally we use remote cameras to minimize the risk and stay safe. That said – I have climbed cell phone towers, dangled off cliffs and hung out from a helicopter. Although many shoots I do look dangerous, I minimize the risk all the time.

Discover More! Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos © Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume.

Choose now! The public vote closes June 15th!

The winning images have gone global on the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour, but only you can decide the Public Choice Award!

© Fred Pompermayer / Red Bull Illume

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 once again raised the level of action and adventure sports photography. German photographer Lorenz Holder took the crown with his BMX shot on a beautiful bridge in autumnal Germany, but there’s still one more award to give away…

The winner of the Public Choice Award will, fittingly, be chosen by you! The top 275 images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 can be found in our gallery, with a vote button beneath each one. Simply pick your favorite and the photographer whose image gets the most votes will take both the title and an awesome prize package.

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to the gallery

2. Look through the photographs

3. Choose your favorite

4. Press the 'vote' button!

Be quick though! Voting closes June 15th so don’t miss out. The winner will be announced just before the start of the next Red Bull Illume Image Quest. We’ll see you there!

Japan’s National Mobile Contest winners have been announced!

Here’s who took the top 5 spots in the smartphone only photo contest!

© Takehito Takahashi / Red Bull Illume

The 55 finalist images from the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 are currently being displayed in downtown Tokyo as part of an international, outdoor exhibition tour. Also on show alongside the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography is the contest’s new category; the National Mobile Contest. Open only to residents of Japan, the National Mobile Contest gave aspiring photographers a chance to submit their best adventure and action sports photographs with only one twist; it must be shot on a smartphone.

The top five images stood to win their very own spot at the exhibition and a series of awesome prizes including Yodobashi gift vouchers, a G-Technology hard drive, Broncolor lighting equipment, a Red Bull Illume photo book and a souvenir courtesy of TBS; whose Japan offices stand tall above the exhibition. In total, 105 photographers submitted 131 images to the contest, with the top five selected by Yodobashi Vice President Kazunori Fujisawa, Lorenz Holder and Red Bull snowboarder Miyabi Onitsuka.

At the grand opening of the Tokyo tour stop, two-time Red Bull Illume winner Lorenz Holder announced and unveiled the top five winning images from the National Mobile Contest:

In 5th place was Kiyomasa Kawasaki with his playful shot of a BMX crew crammed into an elevator. The positive atmosphere perfectly sums up what Red Bull Illume is about; authentic connections made through a common love of action sports and photography.

Next up in 4th place was Naoki Gaman, the only female winner of Japan's National Mobile Contest. Her dramatic black and white shot of a skier at the local Mt. Fuji ski resort will get your adrenaline going just by looking at it!

Taking the 3rd place spot was Jason Halayko. His geometric composition depicts a skateboarder frozen mid-push between two Japanese symbols painted on the floor. It doesn’t get any more authentic than that!

Not entirely satisfied with 3rd place, Jason Halayko took home the number two spot as well. Using a clip-on fisheye lens on his phone, he captured a skater perfectly isolated below a bridge, with some natural sun flare to top it off.

Last but certainly not least is Takehito Takahashi, who took the top spot for Japan’s National Mobile Contest. His incredible shot didn’t just capture a sky-high BMX rider reflected in a cafe window, but also the awe-inspired reaction of his spectators who watched from inside.

Check out Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

The Tokyo exhibition opens in style

The world's greatest adventure and action sports photography goes on show at a stunning, outdoor exhibition venue in the Japanese capital.

Enthusiasts of adventure and action sports photography gathered from far and wide in Tokyo at the Akasaka Sacas commercial complex to see the opening and illumination of the contest’s 55 finalist images. Following the results of Japan’s National Mobile Contest and an entire evening of wild festivities, the public’s passion for the exhibition shone as brightly as the images themselves.

In attendance was Red Bull Illume founder Ulrich Grill, who offered some unique insights into how Red Bull Illume became the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography contest. Joining him to hand out the awards and prizes for the National Mobile Contest was Lorenz Holder; the two-time overall winner of Red Bull Illume.

Local hero DJ Rina provided an unforgettable audio experience on the turntables, whilst Red Bull’s breakdance athlete Issei and freestyle soccer player Tokura showed off their incredible moves to the amazement of a hyped-up crowd.

Judged by Yodobashi Vice President Kazunori Fujisawa, Lorenz Holder and Red Bull snowboarder Miyabi Onitsuka, the Grand Prize for the National Mobile Contest went to Takehito Takashi. The prize purse itself included an awesome selection of photography gear, such as Yodobashi gift vouchers, a G-Technology hard drive, Broncolor lighting equipment, a Red Bull Illume photo book and of course a souvenir courtesy of TBS; whose Japan offices stand tall above the exhibition.

Making their first ever appearance in Tokyo, the breathtaking photos are exhibited outdoors on stunning 2x2 meter lightboxes which are best viewed after dark. The images, including the five winning shots from the Japanese National Mobile Contest will be illuminated daily at Akasaka Sacas between 18:00 and 22:00 from April 19 until April 27, 2018. Best of all, entry is free to the public, so don’t miss out if you’re in the area!

Discover More! Follow Red Bull Illume on Facebook and Instagram.

Photos © Suguru Saito.

Red Bull Illume Finalist Max Lowe on skiing in Japan

As the Red Bull Illume exhibit tour prepares to open in Japan, we thought it’d be fun to take a closer look at the country – through the eyes of one of the Red Bull Illume finalist photographers. Max Lowe’s shot of skier Laura Hale on the hunt for pow around Hokkaido was a nominee in the ‘Spirit’ category – but it’s not the only incredible shot from his trip. We asked him to share a little bit more about himself – and his trip.

Your upbringing was… unorthodox. 

I was raised in the wild places of the world, traveling with my family from a young age. I was exposed to the amazing power of perspective and its impact on how we see the world around us. I started shooting photos in high school when my mom gave me her old Nikon 35mm for a family trip to Peru. I studied dark room photography in high school, which really drew me into the magic of making an image in the physical and the metaphysical sense, while my work on the high school newspaper sparked an interest in storytelling. I got my first digital camera, a Nikon D80, as a graduation present, and throughout college I just started shooting as much as I could. Taking photos became one of my favorite pastimes, mostly exploring the deserts and mountains of Utah where I was in school.

Your first big photo project? 

In 2012 I received the Young Explorers Grant from National Geographic to work on a project in Nepal for 3 months, and when I returned home from that project, it was the first time I really focused my intent on trying to take this passion I had cultivated for so long and turn it into something that could take me deeper into the realm of visual and narrative storytelling. It all seems like a blur since that decision, and I still love shooting as much as ever, and it continues to be an amazing privilege to do something I love so truly and call it my work.

What’s your style? 

I like to think that I take my analytical narrative eye to every shoot I do – even action sports, which might be a bit different than some photographers who might just be looking for singular incredible moments.

What’s your inspiration?

Using my storytelling platforms to tell stories that impact some change beyond just inspiration is also quickly becoming one of my big motivators to keep creating.

Tell us about your trip to Japan. 

My first trip to Japan came about through a friend of mine and film maker Nick Wagoner, one of the founders of Sweetgrass Productions. He wrangled a three week trip with eight of us friends to tour around Hokkaido, on the North Island, in a van, skiing as much powder as we could manage. It was one of most amazing trips of my life for sure, and a hell of way to be introduced to the country. I have since been back several times, and definitely hope to head back this next winter.

Did you research heavily and have specific shooting plans, or just go wherever the snow took you?

Both times I have traveled to Japan to ski I went with friends who knew amazing spots already and took me under their wings in a sense which was an amazing gift. I am sure I would have had a blast without a local inside hookup, but it was amazing getting led straight to the secret stashes.

Tell us about your favorite spots (and favorite shots) from Japan.

Favorite shots were probably taken during our time staying at the base of Mt Yotei and skiing its massive flanks – sunrise on that epic volcano is still breathtaking in memory. But really, anywhere in the backcountry – it's just such a magical environment there with the birch trees and bamboo shoots poking up through the snow. I also got to shoot some in Tokyo and Kyoto which was a treat and contrast to the snowier parts of our trip.

What makes Japan a unique place to photograph?

For me Japan is an amazing place to shoot just because it is so unique across the board. You could take ski pictures or travel photos in a lot of different places, and it would be harder to differentiate your images from one place to the next, but Japan's culture and landscapes are so wonderfully unique, that as a foreigner and someone who loves to capture the whole picture of a place, it was really an amazing treat.

Japan is known for both its attention to detail and aesthetic beauty – did you find this easy to take advantage of?

Japan is all about the detail, and it is apparent almost everywhere you look. It’s not especially easy to capture well, but it is very prevalent and very inspiring as an artist.

Was it crowded?

Did that present a photographic challenge? Some of the resorts were crowded, and most certainly the cities – but the backcountry was usually empty.

See the full gallery on Max's website.

More from Red Bull Illume on InstagramFacebook and Youtube!

Images © Max Lowe / Red Bull Illume