How was it to win?
"It brought me a really strong sign about my photography and what I was doing. I was not expecting to win anything. Someone suggested to enter the contest. I really thought I had no chance because at the time a lot of sport photography was color and used a lot of flash and I was doing black and white. I had a hard time getting published, as it was kind of the opposite of what was going on. Winning it was a really positive sign that what I was going in the right direction."
How was it at the winner award ceremony?
"It’s always good to meet other photographers as we live in our own bubbles. I know all the skate photographers, but I got to meet other people from different sports and kept in touch which is cool. You meet different people, from big time photographers but also small-scale like this kid from Mexico I met in Dublin, Miguel Lopez who did a really cool sequence with flash. It’s inspiring to see all kinds of different photography gathered in the same place."
Fame and fortune followed?
"Well, it didn’t really bring much directly, except one really big thing. At the last edition Leica was a partner and they offered me this deal, loaning me the Monochrom. They said if I could place a photograph in the [top 50] I could keep the camera, and I had big hopes it would happen. I did come up with some really strong images but only made it to the [top 250]. But it still brought a relationship with Leica which has been really strong and important for me. Ever since I’ve been shooting mostly digital with this camera. I did an exhibition at their LA gallery and more projects are coming about – this came directly from Red Bull Illume."
Still love film?
"I’m kind of old fashioned! A while ago I experimented with burning negatives with fire. The result was really cool. It was when digital was really getting much bigger. Burning negatives was translating how film photography was in danger of disappearing. I entered one picture and it was a finalist, so I was really happy about this too. Still people are responsive to that."
Given your love of analog, how do you like smartphone photography?
"Not so much. For a long time, I didn’t have an iPhone and my other phone I was not so much into it. And now the camera on my iPhone is broken so I can’t even shoot with it. Any way, I’d rather shoot with my main camera. But, the thing with smartphones, everyone has the potential to be a photographer. Everyone has their own unique perspective and I like that."
What makes a winning shot?
"From previous editions, you see all kinds of different pictures and categories, there are really different techniques and it’s really open to anything. I think pictures have to bring something special and unique and not follow a particular style."
For some of Fred’s latest work check out the gallery below or visit his website. He's also publishing his first retrospective later this year with the publisher Um Yeah Arts, which will showcase his best work from the last 16 years.
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