The Winner’s Circle: Vegard Aasen We caught up with Norwegian photographer Vegard Aasen to discuss the Chicago Winner Award Ceremony and to talk about his winning shot from the Red Bull Illume mobile category. 01/04/2017 © Lucas Gilman How did it feel to win the mobile category? Did it come as a surprise? Well, it was awesome. It´s not every day I get to win a category in the world’s biggest action sports photo contest. It was a surprise, yes. The other finalists could all have won. But when I made it to the finals, I thought that I had a good chance. If I´m in the top 5, why not win? Tell us about the shot. Last winter some friends and I went to Hakuba in Japan to ski some deep powder and big mountains. The day this shot was taken was a really windy one but the snow was still really good, so we went out into the backcountry. One of my friends brought his DSLR camera, so I decided to not bring my camera because I wanted to ski instead of taking photos. We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well. How was Chicago for you? Chicago was great! It was my first time over there, so I had a good time exploring the city. The event itself was amazing. Cool workshops, good food and great people. The ceremony and the exhibition is something I’ll never forget. Did you get to know any of the other finalists? Yeah, of course. The event was pretty social, so I had plenty of time to get to know some of the other photographers there. It was really cool to get to know some of the photographers that had inspired me even before I knew what Red Bull Illume was. Do you have any favourite memories from the award ceremony? The moment they said I was the category winner is hard to forget. My first thought was: "Oh no, now I have to get up on that stage and come up with something to say". The moment when they Illuminated the exhibition was also a pretty cool. Suddenly the whole Millennium Park was lit up by the pictures. What does Red Bull Illume mean for you? It was a big inspiration. Even if it was the mobile category, it kind of showed me that my pictures can "compete" on an international level. So I guess Red Bull Illume gave me a confidence boost. What kind of an impact do you think mobile photography has on the photography world? The phones are getting better and better, and now the mobile camera is sufficient for most people. Because everybody brings their phones with them all the time, anyone can be a photographer without buying expensive cameras. And there’s less chance you will miss a great shot because you’ll always have a camera in your pocket. Do you think mobile photography will become more common in action sports? For most people, yes. For professionals, not so much. The mobile cameras will never get as good as the professional cameras. But we will see more and more great action shots as mobile cameras continue to get better. And as I mentioned before, the mobile camera will always be in your pocket if your main camera is back at home. What do you think is next for action sports photography? That´s a difficult question. We’ll probably see more low light action, like the northern lights surfing shot that Emil Sollie and Mats Grimsæth just did. We’ll probably see more drone shots as well. Any future plans or projects? My friend and I have just started up a photography/film production company, so that´s the big project now. This winter we´re going to work a lot with skiing. I´m also just getting into using flashes outside in action sports, which is a new learning process for me. A future plan is of course to make it to the finals of Red Bull Illume in 2019. Check out the gallery below for a sneak peek at one of his latest projects. Dig Vegard's work? Head over to the Gallery and vote for him for the Public Choice Award.