What to bring on a mountain bike shoot – Paris Gore

As a full-time MTB photographer, a lot of people ask me what I bring along for the shoot and it’s not a simple answer as it really depends where and what we are doing.

© Paris Gore

There are a lot of times where we have a truck with shuttle access and can hike in about anything to the filming location but for the example today; I’ll be going through what would come with me on an average mountain bike shoot where I would be riding along with the athlete which could end up being a 15-mile ride or more at times. 

Everything fits nicely into my Shimoda camera bag with a medium internal core. Having the right bag is super important to the day as it will make a huge difference to comfort and eventually could wear you down if it doesn’t fit properly. As a previous boy scout, I do like to be prepared and sometimes a little over. Safety is important to me and also not being the person who forgets all the food. A rain jacket in the mountains might save your life, along with a lighter and a small first aid kit. I don’t think many assume this job requires much more than basic photography skills, but to me; the photography is only a part of the job. For the set up below, this would be a bigger kit for a serious shoot. If the ride was longer or less demanding, I might ditch a few items. 

Here we go: 

  • Nikon D5
  • Nikon Lenses - 70-200mm f2.8, 24-70mm 2.8, 14-24mm 2.8, 16mm fisheye 
  • Lens cleaning equipment (it gets dirty out there)
  • XQD cards and wallet
  • Spare Battery
  • Snacks (clif bars, shot blocks, trail mix, beef jerky, etc.) Pro tip - Don’t put bananas in your bag and don’t ask how I know this.
  • Camelbak Bladder
  • Bikes tools, pump, tube
  • Headlamp
  • SPOT Beacon
  • Basic first aid kit (larger kit if multiples nights)
  • Light rain jacket or shell  

If I was staying overnight somewhere, I would be packing a few more things but to keep things simple, this is what I would be taking for a day out on the trails. Remember, things happen fast in the mountains and always use your best judgement.

Let’s take it way back - how did you get started as a mountain bike photographer?

I got my start as a mountain bike photographer by actually doing both separately. I’ve always biked, raced and loved the adventure of riding. Around the age of 15 in High School I also got into photography and loved it. It took me well over a year to put the two together and once I did; it felt like a whole new beginning. From there I just took off shooting my buddies as much as possible.

How have you seen the field change/develop over the years?

I’ve been following the field of other photographers for a long time. Back in the 2008 era, there were only a few MTB photographers that were big names in the industry. I remember seeing other guys like Bruno Long and Reuben Krabbe starting their careers as well, before taking off in a big way. It’s a cool feeling to know you’re in that mix of the younger generation of photographers. 

You shoot a lot of high-profile events like Red Bull Rampage, the World Cup etc. How do you prepare for these?

Events like Rampage and World Cups are super physical on your body and take a lot to run around all day, so I took a new approach this year and started doing some more gym training. I think it helped but in the end, there’s only so much you can do. I also like to find other inspiration from F1 or surfing events because it’s shot in such a different way. Also knowing the event, tricks and riders really helps. It’s hard to come into one of these not knowing who can do what or how someone might look in a particular section of the course. 

What’s one lesson you’ve learned throughout your years shooting?

Being kind and skilled off the camera goes a long way in this world. You can be the best, but if you aren’t someone people want to be around then there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get as much work. Also, just being dialed at what you’re doing helps as well, not showing up with half dead batteries and no rain jacket might raise some eyebrows.

Any tips for aspiring photographers? 

When I was a young up and comer; it was hard to relate to the legends in MTB photography. It felt so far away to ever be at that level like Sterling Lorence (it still does). But if I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be that that however much you feel like a fish; those big fish out there were all little fish once in the same waters. They were all groms, they all fucked up, they were all broke at one point and were barely making a living from photography. The successful ones are where they are because they didn’t get discouraged and kept trying their hardest knowing that the reward would come one day. 

Like what you see? Head over to Paris' website and follow him on Instagram so you don't miss a beat!

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Mourning the passing of the great Jake Burton Carpenter

Jake Burton... snowboarding. © JEFF CURTES

Today we mourn the passing, and celebrate the life of the legend Jake Burton Carpenter. Without Jake’s passion and pioneering vision the snowboarding world that we so love would not exist today. In the spirit of taking adventure and action sports to the next level, there was no other like him, he will remain in our hearts forever. Everyone at Red Bull Illume extends our condolences to Jake’s family and friends.

Relive the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony 2019 at LUMEN!

A memorable three-day program including workshops and photo shoots for the finalists culminated in the Winner Award Ceremony, at which the winners were revealed.

The world’s greatest action and adventure photographers from every side of the world gathered at 2,275m / 7.464 ft. high in the LUMEN – Museum of Mountain Photography in Italy on November, 20 to celebrate the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019. The Overall Winner, 11 Category Winners, and Top 60 finalist images were unveiled at the Winner Award Ceremony by the host Zoran Filicic.

This incredible show, in phenomenal surroundings of Plan de Corones, South Tyrol, Italy, would not have been possible with just us alone, that's why we want to say a huge thank you to our partners Sony, SanDisk, Skylum, COOPH, Salewa, Petzl and Sunnybag for a memorable event and an amazing Image Quest!

Get a taste of the action from the ceremony with our gallery below!

Ben Thouard is crowned overall winner of the Image Quest 2019!

Taking home the grand title as overall winner of the fifth edition of Red Bull Illume is Ben Thouard with his mind-bending underwater image of athlete Ace Buchan surfing in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, in French Polynesia!

© Ben Thouard :

Overall Winner, Image Quest 2019 © Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

The Red Bull Illume Image Quest has a new name in the overall winner circle: Ben Thouard! His underwater epic shot in the glassy clear waters of Tahiti was chosen by a panel of 50 esteemed judges as the winner. If perspective were ever needed at a time like this, Ben’s image is number 1 out of a phenomenal 59,551 submissions.

We are delighted to add Ben’s name to the list of overall winners of the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest. A list that includes iconic photographers Lorenz Holder, Chris Burkard and Fred Mortagne. His progression from edition to edition has seen him rise from semi-finalist in 2013, to finalist in 2016 and now overall winner in 2019!

Every image tells a story, and here’s Ben’s story behind the shot:

“I‘ve dedicated the last few years to shooting underwater, looking for new angles and a new way to shoot surfing and waves. Shooting surfing from underwater is a whole new world and I love it! 

“Tahiti has some of the clearest water in the world so it was easy for me to take advantage of it and explore it as much as I could. 

“This photo was shot during a freesurf session right before the WCT event in Teahupo‘o. This is Ace Buchan kicking out from the barrel through the wave, a technique to escape a close-out wave. 

“Luckily I was right below, breathless with my waterhousing waiting for this moment and I was able to capture the whole sequence of it; this frame from the beginning of the sequence is the most powerful one because of the water around his face and body.”

As overall winner, Ben was selected from the 11 category winners, meaning he will take home the category winning prizes from Red Bull Illume Partners Sony, SanDisk, Skylum and COOPH - PLUS a Sony a9 camera with a 24-70mm f2.8 lens from the G-Master range. SanDisk will also take him on a shooting experience the SanDisk Extreme Team!

That’s not all, his image, along with the other of the 60 finalist images, will now be illuminated on 2x2m lightboxes at the Red Bull Illume Global Outdoor Exhibit Tour which begins tonight at LUMEN

All of the finalists, as well as the rest of the Top 260 images, are also published in the Red Bull Illume 2019 Limited Edition Photobook, which is available to order right now!

Once again, a huge thank you goes out to our partners Sony, SanDisk, Skylum, COOPH, Salewa, Petzl and Sunnybag for a memorable event and an amazing Image Quest!

But, most of all thanks to every photographer and content creator out there that submitted to the contest!

Winner, SanDisk Extreme Award: Philip Platzer!

SanDisk presents the Extreme Award to Philip for his amazing sequence of a record-breaking mountain bike ride.

Markus Stoeckl performs during VMax 200 at the Atacama Desert, Chile on December 10, 2016
Editors Note: Pictures is stitched from multiple photos!

Winner, SanDisk Extreme Award © Philip Platzer / Red Bull Illume

Our partners at SanDisk are experts in making photography storage solutions ready to deal with the toughest of conditions, that’s why they present the SanDisk Extreme Award to Philip Platzer!

Here’s the story of the image:

“I took the photo for Red Bull during the V-Max Project at the Atacama Desert in Chile, in 2016. The highspeed mountainbiker Markus Stöckl tried to beat the world record in speed with a serial MTB – which was a success, he reached 167.6 km/h. After I did a few classic close-up shots and pans, I wanted to show the whole scenery in one shot. The problem was I could not go close enough to do it with a wide-angle lens and with a longer focal length I didn’t get the view in the frame.

”The solution was to do a panorama shot. After I found my position, I did multiple photos in portrait format on 35mm before Max did his run. When Max was riding I did the sequence of him with the same focal length and perspective. No tripod was required.

“To get the final result I had to do some extra work in photoshop: First of all I stitched the panorama, in the end it was made out of six single shots. After this I had to add the sequence, which was quite an issue because of the stitching. Everything was slightly distorted and it took some time to fit the 44 shots of Max back into the scenery.”

You can follow the Winner Award Ceremony live here!

Winner, Salewa Trophy: Kamil Sustiak!

Kamil Sustiak was chosen by our partner as the winner of the Salewa Trophy, awarded to the Best Mountain Sports Image!

Winner, Salewa Trophy © Kamil Sustiak / Red Bull Illume

The Dolomite based outdoor gear, clothing and shoes company Salewa, a partner of the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony, definitely has the necessary experience and knowledge to choose the Best Mountain Sports Image from the thousands of mountain sports submissions to the Image Quest 2019.

They chose Kamil Sustiak! Here is the info about the winning shot:

“We woke up and the first thought that came to my mind was that this morning was going to be special. I always say that as it makes snoozing the early morning alarm way harder. Little did I know that the nature had already started working on its magic tricks. We arrived to the line surrounded by fog so thick that we could almost not see each other. An hour passed and we could only sense the sunrise that was supposed to make this morning so special.

“I thought, well not today mate, happened before, will happen again … the world is not turning around your camera to make you happy every time you press the shutter. I was ready to bail when all of a sudden the fog dropped just a tiny bit down into the valley and showed us what was actually going on around us. This spectacular scenery lasted for about an hour before the clouds underneath us disappeared and the world turned normal again.”

Follow the Winner Award Ceremony live!

Category Winner, Wings: Philip Platzer!

The Megaswing gets the win! This phenomenal capture by Philip Platzer is the Wings category winner in 2019!

Marco Fuerst performs at the Red Bull Megaswing 2016 in Fromberg, Austria on July 7, 2016.

Category Winner, Creative by Skylum © Philip Platzer / Red Bull Illume

Take the Red Bull Sky Dive Team, two hot air balloons and a giant swing and what do you get? That’s right, it’s the winner of the Wings category!

Philip Platzer’s image is as joyful as it is exciting, and he told us all about it:

“Together with the Red Bull Skydive Team, I did this crazy Project called “Megaswing“ back in 2016. After my assignment I already knew this had to be a tricky one: Two Hot Air Balloons, one with a long rope attached and the other one to jump out with the swing, and of course the Skydiver with his parachute.

“After the first couple of jumps I realized that I wouldn’t get the perfect shot by simply shooting from the inside of the basket they were jumping out of. Lucky me, I had my monopod in the car as well as a pair of radio-triggers. My solution to get the right angle was to hold the camera, that I had attached to my monopod, as deep under the basket and just hope to get the perfect framing.

“Another thing, I asked the athlete Marco Fürst to turn a little bit towards my direction to avoid getting an ass-shot and to get this playful mood in the image. In the end it was the very last try which gave us the moneyshot.”

Congratulations to the other finalists; Pablo Jiménez, Martin Golob, Lachie Carracher, Marcelo Maragni and Jairo Díaz Dévora.

Head over to our Facebook live stream to see the overall winner announced!

Category Winner, RAW: Noah Wetzel!

So good you can’t believe that this image is straight out of camera – this winner of the all-new RAW category is Noah Wetzel!

Category Winner, Creative by Skylum © Noah Wetzel / Red Bull Illume

When we introduced the RAW category, the goal was to take photographers back to the fundamentals of photography, with composition, exposure and lighting all done in front of the lens. We knew we would see some expert creativity, but nothing quite as insane as this!

That’s right, the winner of the RAW category is Noah Wetzel:

“After weeks of preparation and creative conception, I loaded my Subaru and headed north to Wyoming for the Total Solar Eclipse in August of 2017. Arriving a couple days before the eclipse, I linked up with athletes Chris Brule, Evan Grott, and Blake Sommer. The imagery goal was to capture the Eclipse and showcase mountain biking utilizing an in-camera double exposure – a very complex process.

“The morning of, we loaded our packs well before sunrise with light stands, powerful flashes, extra camera gear, and two magnum bottles of champagne to celebrate. After capturing the first image successfully during two minutes of totality, all we had to do was endure the midday sun, waiting for twilight and the attempt at the second frame.

”Unfortunately, I was unaware I had damaged the hot shoe connection on my camera four weeks prior while shooting fly fishing, preventing me from triggering my flashes.

“Our only option required athlete Chris Brule to hit the feature in near darkness at 9pm, allowing me to set the camera to a 2.5 second exposure, manually firing the flashes and freezing Chris mid-air. Nearly escaping complete failure, we hiked out in darkness while sipping on champagne, truly in awe of the total solar eclipse and thankful we were able to capture something special.”

Congrats also to the other four finalists; Jan Kasl, Christian Gisi, Michael Clark and Daniel Bernstål!

Tune in to the Winner Award Ceremony live to see the remaining winners announced!

Category Winner, Playground: Lorenz Holder!

It’s that man again! Lorenz Holder wins his second category of the Image Quest 2019, and this time it’s in Playground!

Category Winner, Playground © Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

The Playground category showcases not only the athlete, but the landscapes, locations, platforms and environments in which they play. The reputation of Lorenz Holder as one of the greatest ever location scouts continues with this unique image taken at the Ouse Valley Viaduct, that would look equally as good hung in a gallery as it would on the cover of a skateboard magazine!

“The Ouse Valley Viaduct is pretty cool old railway bridge in the South of England. When you approach it from the side, you can‘t really see the secret this bridge has to offer, but once you get underneath of one of the arches you can‘t believe your eyes. You are caught in a place that could easily be in the movie Inception. The arches create a very surreal visual effect – when you are taking a picture, you don‘t understand if you are looking down into something or at least you get very confused about what you‘re actually seeing. I was blown away by this fact, but also blown away that this looked like a pretty good spot for skateboarding.

“When I showed Vladic an image of the viaduct, he was on fire to try it out. To be honest it was super hard to ride and Vladic‘s quote that got stuck in my mind was: “This is so hard, when my brain is going down in the transition, my body is already going up again – this will be difficult to get something done here.“ A couple of hours later, when his brain and body came together, he landed this kickflip while the sun was just at the perfect angle as well.”

Lorenz beat other finalists Chris Tedesco, Kamil Sustiak, Geoff Coombs, Matt Georges and Andrius Aleksandravičius to win his second category of the night!

Follow all the action live!

Category Winner, Moving Image: Rupert Walker!

For the first time in Red Bull Illume history, images are no longer standing still. The winner of this brand-new category is Rupert Walker!

Category Winner, Moving Image © Rupert Walker / Red Bull Illume

Congratulations to Rupert Walker and the team at Revel co., who mastered the challenge set by the Moving Image category and in one take created a winning sequence that is dynamic and action packed. Well worthy of being the first ever champion of this brand-new category!

Here’s the story behind the video:

“This shot features Brandon Semenuk and Ryan Howard riding down a custom-built slalom line built and designed by Revel Co. The idea for the shot was to have Brandon Semenuk start out solo in the shot, and have Ryan Howard appear in frame and then exit, doing this a couple times during the shot.

“It was particularly challenging because it required extreme precision from the FPV drone pilot, Jonny Durst, and during this shoot we experienced very heavy rains, which caused the track to be nearly unrideable. From the moisture the track was riding much slower than anticipated and caused the athletes to struggle at performing their best. The dig crew was all hands-on deck with tiger torches and shovels to dry up any wet spots and dig out any soft spots. With hard work from all, a solid shot plan, and great coordination between the drone pilot and the athletes, the shot was accomplished.”

Huge congrats also to the other four finalists; Ben Thouard, Stu Gibson, Maxime Moulin and Joey Schusler!

As we’re on the subject of vide, the Winner Award Ceremony is being stream live right now – check it out!

Category Winner, Masterpiece by EyeEm: Lorenz Holder!

Followers of Red Bull Illume will instantly recognize the photographer, and fans of Game of Thrones will instantly recognize the location! The Masterpiece by EyeEm winner is Lorenz Holder!

Category Winner, Masterpiece by EyeEm © Lorenz Holder / Red Bull Illume

If you go down into the woods today you’ll never believe your eyes. That’s right, it’s two-time overall winner of Red Bull Illume Lorenz Holder teaming up with Senad Grosic again to make another incredible image!

Lorenz goes back-to-back adding the Masterpiece by EyeEm category crown in 2019 to his victory in the Masterpiece category back in 2016! Here’s how the image was made:

“The first time I saw this location was when I was watching Game of Thrones and I was blown away by the pure magic this road generated in me. First, I thought that it‘s of course a CGI composition, but after a little research I found out that this place is actually real and located in Northern Ireland. A year later I was actually standing there with Senad Grosic and trying to get a bunny-hop-tailwhip on camera.

“It was early in the morning with the first sun rays hitting the road and we managed to get a pretty cool shot, but somehow I knew that there was pure potential in the spot. So, we decided to stay a couple days longer and waited for some kind of rain, fog or other particles in the air, so I could use one flash from behind and create a white background to make Senad stand out a bit more and get the focus a bit more on the action. The rain came on our last day and I still remember the goose-bumps I had when I saw the image appearing on the screen of the camera. That‘s when I felt the same magical feeling I got when I watched Game of Thrones for the first time.”

Big shout-out to the other finalists: Kevin Molano, Morgan Maassen, Daniel Rönnbäck, Robin Pearson and Jeffrey Kiefer!

Find out if Lorenz will be the overall winner again! Follow the Winner Award Ceremony live!