The Athlete's Perspective: Cody Townsend

No one appreciates the work of action sports photographers more than the athletes. Below, freeskier Cody Townsend – ‘the guy who skied that crack your grandma told you to watch’ – gives them some love.

© Blake Jorgenson / Red Bull Content Pool

“The most special thing is that they’re amazing skiers and athletes themselves. They’re having to go where the athletes are having to go but with a 50lb pack on at all times. They’re always putting themselves in really weird and interesting positions, like having to climb up little ridges to find their spot. There are few other disinclines of photography other than action sports where the photographer has to be as athletic as the athlete! 

Photography has been incredibly vital to my career, from traditional media like magazines to new age digital media. Essentially people want to see beautiful images and photographers are there to service that. 

The landscape is changing but photography is still as important as it’s ever been – in many ways more important because there so much photography and so many ways to see good photography that you have to shoot even better stuff to cut through the noise and get the high quality photos out there and in front of people. 

There are a lot of great photographers I’ve worked with including Blake Jorgenson, who’s amazing. Jordan Manley is truly like an artist and Reuben Krabbe is this forward visionary, young and hungry to change the way people see photos.. 

It is important that skiing is portrayed right. I look at the Olympics when a bunch of photographers for stock companies like Getty were shooting skiing. The photos shown on the sports sections in major newspapers were just awful for a skier – terrible position, no style, no context of how big or high in the air they were, just these close up images. It just did nothing for the sport. You could tell the photographers had no idea what they were shooting as well. A skier photographer would know the sports in and out; they know the mountains they’re trying to show and the story of the skier. 

There’s probably one image of me that stands out. It was shot by Blake Jorgenson. It’s incredibly powerful for me. It shows me, cameraman and a guide standing on top of a line. It’s shot looking over the top, looking down. It has a crazy feel of anticipation and emotion and gives the feeling of getting the willies right before you drop in. It’s really powerful!”

For more about the man himself, visit Facebook and Instagram

Keep coming back to redbullillume.com for your weekly dose of action and adventure sports photography and galleries of inspirational images.

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

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Own a piece of Red Bull Illume history

To celebrate the amazing talent of the photographers that submitted to Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016, we're proud to present the limited Edition Coffee Table Book to you.

Showcasing the finalists of the 2016 Red Bull Illume competition, there are only 5,000 copies of this limited edition collectable book, each individually numbered. It displays all 275 semi-finalist images, highlighting the top 55 images by including photographer biographies, their stories about their shot and the technical details. 

Each Red Bull Illume Coffee Table book has it's own unique number and comes with a high quality print of Lorenz Holder's Overall winning image. 

Make sure to get your copy and order now through www.redbullillumebook.com

And the winners are...

The Art Institute of Chicago was the place to be on September 28th as the world's best action and adventure sports photographers gathered for the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony during which, after months of waiting, the 55 best action and adventure photographs in the world were unveiled to the world, including the 11 Category Winners and the Overall Winner.

© Lucas Gilman

From 34,624 submissions, 53 judges chose the following 11 images as the best action and adventure sports photographs the world has seen. 

 

 

Close Up

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Close Up: Denis Klero, Russia with his black and white shot of climber Rustam Gelmanov showing his chalk-covered hands in Fontainebleu, France.

Energy

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Energy: Luke Shadbolt, Australia for his black and white image showing the power of nature. Surfer Renan Faccini is set against a huge swell in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Enhance

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Enhance: Dean Treml, New Zealand and his image of cliff diver Jonathan Paredes jumping from the 28 meter platform on the roof of the Copenhagen Opera House during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, 2013.

Lifestyle

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Lifestyle: Jody MacDonald, Canada with her mesmerizing image of her brother Ken MacDonald sitting atop a train during their adventure through the Sahara Desert.

Masterpiece by Yodobashi

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Masterpiece by Yodobashi: Lorenz Holder, Germany showing BMX rider Senad Grosic ride his bike over a bridge in an autumnal Gablenz, Germany.

This image was awarded highest Red Bull Illume honors as this image was chosen as the Overall Winner of Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016, as well as being the favorite image amongst the athlete community, also winning the Athlete's Choice Award. 

New Creativity

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New Creativity: Ale Di Lullo, Italy for his fun shot of Aaron Chase riding his mountain bike on the windshield of a NYC cab.

Playground

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Playground: Lorenz Holder, Germany showing BMX rider Senad Grosic ride down a rusted viewing platform in Senftenberg, Germany.

Sequence by Sony

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Sequence by Sony: Daniel Vojtêch, Czech Republic with his shot of Flying Bulls pilots Miroslav Krejci, Jan Rudzinskyi, Stanislav Cejka and Jan Tvrdic in Jaromêř, Czech Republic.

Spirit

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Spirit: Dean Treml, New Zealand for his image showing kayaker Josh Neilson being supported by fellow paddlers Barnaby Prees, Sam Sutton, Tim Pickering, Ben Brown, Jamie Sutton and Jaren Seiler after a bad landing off Matze’s Drop, Storulfossen, Norway.

Wings

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Wings: Micky Wiswedel, South Africa with his shot of climber Jamie Smith mid-fall as he attempts a new route on Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Mobile

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New for 2016 was the Mobile Category. It was won by Vegard Aasen, Norway for his black and white mountaineering image taken in Hakuba, Japan.

Make sure to head over to our Gallery if you want to see the entire Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 Top 275 and keep an eye on redbullillume.com for the stories behind the shots. 

500px Red Bull Photography Global Photo Walk Winners announced

The 500px Red Bull Photography Global Photo Walk is in the books. Photo Walks were organized in over 200 cities across the world, with over 13,000 photographers registering to take part. As part of the Global Photo Walk, a National Mobile Contest also took place. Check out the winners below!

© Rober Garo

Over 200 cities around the globe were a playground for the walks on September 17 and 18th, 2016, with the most remote photo walk taking place in Antarctica!

The hosts were asked to organize a walk in their city accommodating this years theme: Action and Adventure. We saw biking, breakdance, freestyle soccer, light painting, parkour, skateboarding, wakeboarding, and even skydiving in the final images.

All the photo walkers had the possibility to submit images to the 500px Red Bull Photography Global Photo Walk Mobile Photo Contest. 

There were some really great submissions from around the world, with submissions from Malaysia, the UAE, Japan and many other countries, and many different sports and activities were creatively captured by the Global Photo Walk crowd. 

A jury of experts from 500px and Red Bull Photography had a really hard job selecting the winning picture with much debate over the final 3 images, which you can see below. Photographer Robert Garo was finally selected for shooting the best picture with his photo of a b-boy in a parking garage, and as a prize received a return trip for 2 to Chicago for the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony on September 28th, 2016. 

The Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony Week is here!

After months and months of anticipation for the thousands of photographers from 120 different countries who submitted 34,624 images, the week of the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony is finally here, and it's jampacked with awesome events!

On September 28, the Overall Winner, 11 Category Winners and Top 55 images will be unveiled at a spectacular ceremony held at The Art Institute of Chicago.

This elite selection of images represents the best from the world of action and adventure sports photography and shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes behind the lens. It’s the culmination of a long wait for the photographers from 120 countries who submitted 34.624 mind-blowing images to Red Bull Illume.

The evening will be hosted by television personality Tina Dixon and snowboarder Louie Vito, and also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the prestigious contest. Attending guests will include dignitaries and the who’s who of the photography world. VIP guests include a number of Yodobashi, Sony, broncolor and G-Technology special guests, as well as several big name Red Bull Illume judges.

Leading up to the Winner Award Ceremony, the photographers will attend plenty of events hosted by our partners.

On Tuesday, digital imaging leader Sony is hosting an entire day revolving around the art of shooting action sports. On Wednesday, lighting equipment manufacturer broncolor will take photographers to Chicago's famous Lakefront Trail for an action-filled shoot with Dustin Snipes, while storage solution experts G-Technology will be focussing on shooting action portraits with Lucas Gilman. 

The Winner Award Ceremony will be streamed live on the Red Bull Illume Facebook page. The livestream will start between 9:30 and 10:00pm CDT. For behind the scenes event coverage, visit the Red Bull Illume Instagram channel.

While waiting until the winners will be announced - visit the Red Bull Illume Facebook page for a sneak peek of the Top 275 semifinalist images, with "Wings", the last of 11 Categories revealed today. 

Red Bull Illume announces National Collegiate Winners

What do you get when you combine young talent with three of Red Bull Illume's household names and a group of Red Bull athletes? Three intense days of work, creativity and improvisation.

Following a lengthy submission phase, the three best collegiate photographers were chosen and flown to Chicago, which will be the home of the 2016 Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony to spend three days learning the ins and outs of photography from some of the best action and adventure sports photographers around. 

The three Collegiate Winners spent three days working one-on-one with Red Bull Illume photographers Christian Pondella, Ryan Taylor and Dave Lehl, who were joined by athletes Alex Mason (slacklining), Timmy Theus (BMX) and Ian Jacobson (SUP). 

"It's incredible what I learned from Christian in just one day," says Carlee Hackl, who captured slackliner Alex Mason in the early-morning Chicago sunrise, adding that "the one-on-one mentoring was key."

Dave Lehl mentored the contestants on the importance of using lights, shadows and style to bring the image to life but, according to him, an image is just an image if there is no "emotion, vibrancy of feel." 

The three photos chosen as winners (visible in the gallery below) were selected because they perfectly showcase "the feel of the athlete at the height of his craft, in his peak element."

“Seeing everyone’s individual style and approach was awesome... for someone who doesn’t get to see different styles often, seeing all the unique approaches was refreshing,” says paddleboard mentor Ryan Taylor.

Dolly Nguyen, Dean Crockett and Ben Jackson, the three Collegiate winners, will be able to wow the public with their results as part of the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour, which kicks off in Chicago on the 28th of September.

Make sure to witness Red Bull Illume history in the making as the winners of Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016, the National Collegiate Contest as well as the U.S. National Mobile Contest are revealed to the world for the first time as part of the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour on September 28th. 

The Athlete's Perspective: Travis Rice

Travis Rice is arguably the world’s most famous snowboarder. He’s been around for years and he’s famous for pushing the limits of what is possible when it comes to backcountry riding. Over his extensive career, he’s worked with numerous photographers, making him the perfect subject for our newest Athlete’s Perspective, in which we flip the script and ask athletes about their perspective on photography.

© Scott Serfas / Red Bull Content Pool

Throughout the history of Red Bull Illume, you’ve been featured more times in top images than any other athlete. Why do you think that is?

Well, I’m going to start with – because I am lucky enough to work with some of the best and most visionary photographers in the space. I take pride in the fact that I’m lucy enough to work with guys that go the extra mile. I’ve always been a huge fan of photography - so much so that I’ve started a gallery that supports photographers and artists. I think it’s a combination between being able to work with guys that are willing to go the extra distance to tell a story with a photo and perhaps I’m bit with the wanderlust that takes us maybe just a little further than most. 

Anyone in particular who goes the extra mile?

Recently, I’ve been shooting a lot with Tim Zimmerman. It’s tough, I work with amazing guys whom all have their unique approach. But I think Tim really stands out recently, to me, with what he has been trying to do just with his images, capturing textures and in-camera double exposures. For me, that’s what’s really caught my eye.

What’s the craziest thing a photographer has ever asked you to do?

There’s a photographer who I used to work with, who maybe should remain unnamed, {laughs} who is infamous for always asking people just to do crazy sh*t for the shot. He pushed it too far, you know… There’s a couple of different styles – there are photographers who set up a shot and ask a rider to bring their style of flavour into that image and then there’s the guy whose approach is a little bit more fly-on-the-wall. But this one guy… Usually it involved a really large cliff with a really flat landing. That was generally the theme with him. 

How important has photography been to your career? And how has it changed?

Well it’s really sad to see the photo annuals no longer exist within our core space. I mean, I understand it, just economically, they’re just not possible anymore. I mean, that’s why certain things like Red Bull Illume are a prime example. From the first Red Bull Illume, I remember going there physically for the first one and seeing the displayed images. I think Red Bull Illume is one of the best things going for photography and our world. When one thing disappears, like the photo annual, one door closes and another door opens. Like the new interactive photo stories that have been coming out. With all the amazing ways that you can present a photo story with the internet and online – it seems like it’s the future of what you can do.

Photography was a huge supporting factor in my career. Growing up being a very dedicated consumer of films and magazines, that was kind of my world. I still remember my first photograph I had run in a magazine, and I’ll look back at that image and remember so specifically where I was in my life. I think the first couple years, there were a few pivotal images that photographers captured of me that I think really helped solidify my career and get support from sponsors. It made it possible for me to actually pursue snowboarding in a time when I was still living off construction money I earned in the summer.

How important is a good connection to the person you’re working with?

When you have a relationship with a photographer or cinematographer that supercedes the need for basic communication – that’s when real moments are captured. When you can forge a relationship with a photographer where you can just be in the moment, and you can find that flow state, and can be 100% focused on what’s ahead of you. That’s when the magic happens.

Tell us about your latest project, The Fourth Phase?

It’s primarily a film about water, and our relationship to water. The hydrological cycle – that energetic cycle, following the path of water and energy – that’s the theme of The Fourth Phase. It was a long process in getting to the point of embarking on creating this film. Really the last 10 to 15 years and it really only started to materialize after The Art of Flight.

This film is more personal. It’s an honest look at our process. It took everything we learned through the making of the last films. Everytime we failed at something, we learned. We learn a lot more through our failures than our true successes. We grew as people, snowboarders and filmmakers.

What were some of the challenges of shooting The Fourth Phase?

The first element we had to deal with was the amount of people we were bringing into the backcountry on a daily basis. It’s the biggest production we’ve ever done. Just the sheer scale of logistics needed when you’re going into the backcountry, sometimes 20/30 miles a day, with no helicopter support. It’s a testament to how bad-ass our production crew was. We set off, at the beginning, to shoot the first truly 4k action sports film, and shooting with equipment that’s kind of designed for in-studio use. Filmers say that snowboarding is one of the hardest mediums to shoot. So logistics was one of the biggest challenge we had to work through. The other challenge –we saw a lot of crazy weather during filming. But it’s too easy to put any type of blame on weather, because, man, the weather does what the weather does. But that was the other big challenge.

Best advice you were ever given?

So many! I’d say one of my favorites is – “never leave a good time for a good time.”

Any words of advice / encouragement?

Through so much trial and error, I can speak to how powerful conscious intuition is, conscious visualization. I’m such a strong believer, after so many years of doing this, that by simply visualizing what you want, and believing consciously in it, and putting out in the world what you’re truly after – it comes true. It happens. It’s just about having the faith of asking for help and being the creators of our own reality.

Make sure to catch Travis Rice's latest feature film "The Fourth Phase" as it premieres around the world. The web premiere will take place October 2nd through Red Bull TV

Red Bull Illume Semifinalists to be revealed

The Winner Award Ceremony in Chicago, USA is just over two weeks away. To help you bridge the gap between now and then, we'll be revealing the Top 275 Semifinalist images on our Facebook page!

© Sterling Lorence / Red Bull Illume

The wait is almost over for the 5.645 photographers from 120 countries around the world who entered Red Bull Illume, the world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest. On September 28, the Overall Winner, 11 Category Winners and Top 55 images will be unveiled at a spectacular ceremony held at The Art Institute of Chicago – one of the hottest venues in the Windy City!

From September 12, 2016 onwards and leading up to the ceremony, Red Bull Illume will reveal the highly anticipated Top 275 Semifinalist images via its Facebook page. Select images (a random selection) will also be featured on Red Bull Illume’s Instagram and Twitter feeds. The Top 275 images will also appear in the Red Bull Illume Photo Book which will be available for purchase following the Winner Award Ceremony.

The images represent action and adventure sports photography at its finest, and come from an astounding number of disciplines ranging from rock climbing and high-lining to free-diving, skateboarding and snow sports. They show these sports performed in jaw-dropping locations around the world, captured using spectacular angles and innovative and inspiring photographic techniques.

Stay tuned to redbullillume.com for the latest info, the reveal of the Top 55 Finalist images, Category Winners and Overall Winner on September 28 and follow us Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for a continuous showcase of the greatest action and adventure sports photography you’re ever likely to see.

New Creativity semifinalists: win.gs/New_Creativity

Follow the Winner Award Ceremony as it happens on September 28th on redbullillume.com and our social channels. More details to be announced soon. 

How Jeremiah Watt gets those epic climbing shots

You’ve got to have a head for heights and a willingness to suffer to shoot climbing photography - and don’t forget some skills on the rock. Red Bull Illume photographer Jeremiah Watt is known for getting some awesome climbing shots, here’s what he had to say about the genre.

© Jeremiah Watt

You’re well known for your spectacular climbing images, how did you get into that?
“I came to photography by accident through a misguided academic setting and being a climber first, climbing became a natural setting for developing my photographic skills.” 

What do you find so captivating about this type of photography?
“Everything. Climbing is an amazing means of experiencing the world and the people in it. The moments in-between, the travelling, the rock, the struggle, the desperation, the passion, the people - it all comes together to provide endless photographic inspiration.”  

Do you use any special equipment for shooting climbing?
“Not really. There’s the standard climbing equipment. I shoot Nikon and Fuji with almost entirely natural light. I have a fairly strong documentary style and try to shoot as an active participant in whatever’s happening. Active lighting and prearranged compositions can be necessary and incredible but I find the spontaneous and unexpected far more gratifying.”  

What skills are needed to successfully shoot climbing?
“Being a climber isn’t mandatory but close. Climbing, like any adventure sport, has its own customs and clique’s, being a climber helps one to identify and anticipate the what, when and where of possibility. Strong rope work and solid fitness is key to get in and out of position without being a liability. Humor and a willingness to suffer is pretty key to enjoying the entire process. Shitty situations can create the best images and attitude is often the only difference between having an epic memory of great times with great friends or just a heinous epic.”  

Could you give us some tips for anyone looking to progress in this type of photography?
“Be willing to suffer with a smile. Get up earlier and stay later. Work harder. Relish it! Because if it’s for you, it isn’t work, it’s personal and there’s nothing better.”   

What’s your favourite shoot to date?
“We just pack rafted the Gunnison Gorge in Colorado. That was new and exciting with great people while acquiring an entirely new skill set. Shooting high lining in the California’s Needle’s a few years back is still an all-time high. Eastern Europe, huge bonefish on an undisclosed island, the Bahamas, Zion! There’s so much beauty and awe in the world it’s hard to nail it down to any one experience.” 

What other sports do you enjoy shooting?
“Fly fishing, ice climbing, skiing/snowboarding, travel, high lining, life.”

What are you working on at the moment? 
“I’ve got a week at home and then I’m off to Southern Utah to document a Dystrophaeus (dinosaur) excavation site. It’s a totally different shoot and style for me and I’m looking forward to mixing it up.”

Follow Jeremiah on Instagram and his website.

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

Red Bull Illume winners soon to be unveiled

The winners of the world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest will be revealed to the world at a spectacular Winner Award Ceremony in Chicago, USA on September 28.

Since March 31, it has been a long wait for the 5.645 photographers from around the world who entered Red Bull Illume. Now, it's almost over. On September 28, the Overall Winner, 11 Category Winners and the Top 55 images will be unveiled at a spectacular ceremony held at The Art Institute of Chicago, USA – one of the hottest venues in the Windy City!

This elite selection of images represents the best from the world of action and adventure sports photography and shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes behind the lens. It’s the culmination of countless hours of hard work for the photographers from 120 countries who submitted 34.624 mind-blowing images to Red Bull Illume.

The evening will be hosted by television personality Tina Dixon and snowboarder Louie Vito, and also celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the prestigious contest. Attending guests will include dignitaries and the who’s who of the photography world. VIP guests include a number of Yodobashi, Sony, broncolor and G-Technology special guests, as well as several big name Red Bull Illume judges.

After the ceremony, guests will make their way to Wrigley Square, where the photographers’ images will be unveiled and illuminated on 2x2m lightboxes. This also marks the first stop of the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour – the nighttime photo exhibition traveling to cultural hubs and hotspots around the world. The stop in Chicago is free and open to the public every night until October 9, 2016.

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

In the wake: Chris Garrison in Austria

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

© Chris Garrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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