The Winner's Circle: Daniel Vojtech Czech photographer Dan Vojtěch is one of the more creative action sports photographers working today – three of the 11 finalist images in the New Creativity category were his. He also won the category last time. He tells us why photographers need to train like athletes – and what skill separates the pros from the amateurs. 12/16/2016 © Lucas Gilman You need to train like an athlete? With GoPros and smartphones, everyone’s a photographer. It’s a bit scary, the game is changing so much. You need to stay ahead. You have to improve your level. Cameras are much better now, they shoot in the dark, they’re smaller, you can mount them everywhere and now there are drones which are cheaper and smaller. We see many more photos. So how do you stay ahead? You have to shoot a lot. It’s like practice, it’s like sport. If you don’t train, you won’t be any good. It’s the same with photography. What distinguishes the pros from a good amateur? The best athletes sometimes risk their lives doing tricks. You just have one attempt. If you don’t capture it, you miss it. So those athletes will always prefer professional photographers because they guarantee not just the quality, but to not miss the shot. It’s easy to create one good shot. If you’re an amateur and using a cellphone, and you shoot 100,000 photos, there will be two to three good ones. But if you’re a pro, you need to shoot 10 and have three that are good. For action photography, you need this quality. Tell us about your Sequence shot: I love concepts, creating stories… The plane was quite small – it was not built for tall people like me! I’m 193cm and it was quite hard to fit inside. But it was a great experience. The action was amazing. I was in the rear plane and the plane in front made a circle. It seems quite far away because I’m using a fisheye, but actually it was only a few meters! Did your stomach flip? No! I’d already done a few flights with the Flying Bulls in aerobatic planes – I knew what to expect. You must be really pleased to win. Again! It’s an amazing feeling because it’s like the Olympic Games for photographers. There are thousands of submitted photos, so it’s an amazing feeling to be in the top 11. What do you think of the other shots in the contest? I liked Victor Sukhorukov’s Masterpiece shot of the lighthouse BASE jumper. It’s a really nice picture, nice atmosphere. But all of them are amazing. Every photographer has a unique style and it’s nice to see that. I can’t shoot surfing or motorsports, so it’s nice to see things I cannot do! Is Red Bull Illume important to a photographer like yourself? It’s kind of [acknowledgement] that you are doing a good job. It’s important. It’s not easy to be a photographer. But Red Bull Illume is a big motivation to do other projects – that’s the most important thing. If you win, it’s a big motivation! What recent projects have you been working on? I was in Hawaii for the Ironman championships. I created a concept to shoot athletes on a large format polaroid camera which was a bit different. It’s not easy to shoot with this big camera and the athletes were doing a lot of photoshoots and were stressed. But after they saw the image, they were super pleased. It was a great project: there’s almost no value to digital images; you can print many times. But with Polaroid, you only have one moment to capture the image and you have just one print – if you lose or destroy it, it’s gone.