The Illume Effect: Christian Pondella Continuing our series talking to previous finalists of Red Bull Illume, we chat to veteran action photographer Christian Pondella and hear why he loves being a part of the contest. 02/09/2016 © Christian Pondella / Red Bull Illume You’ve been an established pro for many years, but has Red Bull Illume helped? “It’s definitely a great thing to be a finalist. Personally, I’ve been a pro almost 20 years now. If you’re a young photographer it will open up a lot of doors. If you win the whole thing it will help tremendously. I know for sure I got a few clients off [the 2013 Red Bull Illume] because people saw my work there. The previous contests in 2007 and 2010 I didn’t have a finalist image so it didn’t have an impact like that last one did.”The best part?“The coolest experience was going out to Hong Kong for the Winner Award Ceremony and being a part of that exhibit with all the other photographers whose work I’d admired over the years. That was really what was most exciting. Ultimately, I want to be a part of the top 50 again in 2016. So I can be a part of that again.”Do you already have an image in mind? “I got a few for sure. I had the most amazing job last year; I went to Kilimanjaro with Will Gadd for a Red Bull shoot. It was an amazing trip and has the potential to make the top 50. But it’s funny what I think is a great shot isn’t necessarily what gets selected. My image [from 2013] wasn’t one of the strongest from my perspective. Everyone has his or her own interpretation.”What must an image have to do well?“It’s got to be an outstanding image, but a bit luck that the judges like that particular image helps also. That’s the way with a lot of competitions. I’ve been a judge and it’s not easy. There are so many amazing photos… Ultimately it has to be something unique and dramatic.”Anything else aspiring finalists should know? “There are a lot of conceptual photos and they tend to do well, as they might be different. I shoot a lot of mountain sports. There are so many photos submitted in that genre, so for one of those images to go through to the top 50…? It has to be really unique and different to set it apart. Maybe a bit of luck has to go into it – some magical moment with the weather and light and you’re there and you happen to catch it.” Plans for this winter? “I try to get to Chamonix every year. In 2014 I went to Russia, potentially I might go back to Japan –it’s just a matter of talking to the athletes and clients I work with like Patagonia and scheming up ideas. Then when the snow starts falling, I commit.”Check out the gallery below and Christian’s Facebook and Instagram feed for more of his work.The world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest is back and better than before with the addition of a new mobile category. Download the Ultimate Guide to Red Bull Illume here and mark March 31, 2016 on your calendars! That's when submissions close.Visit the Red Bull Illume Facebook page for regular updates and check out Instagram for more visual action.