LIFESTYLE Category (© Patrick Camblin // Athlete: Ben Marr // Location: Kalinga Province, Philippines)

Choosing the Right Category

With only a couple of weeks until submissions open, we take a closer look at the different categories to help photographers decide where to submit their images. Below, we describe each one, and also provide a gallery with prime examples from the 10 categories.

Images that visually capture the creativity of the lifestyle, music and culture that surrounds action and freesports, or represents what happens before, between, and after the action.

Images that showcase the landscapes, locations, platforms, and environments in which athletes play.

Images that demonstrate the force that powers an action and show the energy, speed and strength required for an athlete to perform.

Images that portray the spirit or personality that athletic performances produce, as well as the pain, emotion and struggles that go along with trying to achieve one's goals, whether due to injury, failure or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Images that show extreme detail of one or more aspects of an athletic feat: a tight shot of the action, the equipment, the body, the face, etc.

Images that capture the point in a performance in which the athlete jumps, catches air, free falls, soars.

Images that tell the whole story in a single frame and capture the progression of an action at every stage.

Images that reveal a unique angle, a visual idea, a different format, light and flash effects... something never seen before! It's the purely creative image without digital alterations.

Images that have been enhanced digitally or in the darkroom through alterations made in the production or digital editing process.

Images that illuminate your artistic skill, your personal best, your unique style; this is an open category so anything goes - give us your best shot!

Check out the gallery below for some examples from each category... 

LIFESTYLE Category (© Devon Balet // Athlete(s): Chad Chaney and John Bailey // Location: Durango, CO, USA)
LIFESTYLE Category (© Vincent Perraud // Athletes: Alex Baret and friends // Location: Tallinn, Estonia)
PLAYGROUND Category (© Tim Korbmacher // Athlete: Stefan Lantschner // Location: Krefeld, Germany)
PLAYGROUND Category (© Ricky Adam // Athlete: Owain Clegg // Location: Dungeness, Kent, United Kingdom)
ENERGY Category (© Rutger Pauw // Athlete: Mark Vos // Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands)
ENERGY Category (© Jed Weingarten // Athletes: Luke Spencer // Location: Outlet Falls, WA, USA)
ENERGY Category (© Alessio Barbanti // Athletes: Taddy Blazusiak // Location: Città di Castello, Perugia, Italy)
SPIRIT Category (© Mike Killion // Athlete: Brad Tunis // Location: Hammond, IN, USA)
SPIRIT Category (© Tim McKenna // Athlete: Hira Teriinatoofa // Location: Teahupoo, French Polynesia)
SPIRIT Category (© Adam Kokot // Athlete: Michal Krol // Location: Spisske Tomasovce, Slovakia)
CLOSE UP Category (© Christian Pondella // Athlete: Tao Berman // Location: White Salmon, WA, USA)
CLOSE UP Category (© Tim Kemple // Athlete: Renan Ozturk // Location: Trango Towers, Pakistan)
CLOSE UP Category (© Pablo Azócar // Athlete: Bevan Hall // Location: Cardrona Valley, New Zealand)
WINGS Category: (© Rutger Pauw // Athletes: Daniel Ilabaca // Location: Mumbai, India)
WINGS Category (© Camilla Stoddart // Athlete: Josie Symons // Location: Rob Roy Glacier, Mt Aspiring National Park, New Zealand)
WINGS Category (© Marcel Lämmerhirt // Athlete: José Eber Pava Ordoñez // Location: Hamburg, Germany)
SEQUENCE Category (© Christian Pondella // Athlete: Mat Rebeaud // Location: Payerne, Switzerland)
SEQUENCE Category (Miguel Angel López Virgen // Athlete: Alfredo Salcido // Location: Guadalajara, Mexico)
SEQUENCE Category (© Agustin Munoz // Athletes: Orlando Duque // Location: Negril, Jamaica)
NEW CREATIVITY Category (© Rutger Pauw // Athlete: Ben Lewis // Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands)
NEW CREATIVITY Category (© Gian Paul Lozza // Athlete: Gian Simmen // Location: Davos, Switzerland)
EXPERIMENTAL Category (© Daniel Grund // Athletes: Alex Maclean, Nicolas Ivanoff // Location: Monument Valley, UT, USA)
EXPERIMENTAL Category (© Ray Demski // Athlete: Julius Brink, Jonas Reckermann // Location: Fuerteventura, Spain)
EXPERIMENTAL Category (© Marcelo Maragni // Athletes: Bruno Dias // Location: São Tomé das Letras, Brazil)
ILLUMINATION Cateogry (© Mattias Fredriksson // Athlete: Espen Linnerud // Location: Stranda, Norway)
ILLUMINATION Category (© Grant Gunderson // Athlete: Bryce Phillips // Location: Alta, UT, USA)
ILLUMINATION Category (© Gian Paul Lozza // Athlete: Markus Keller // Location: Soelden, Austria)

Read the latest stories

Photographer: Dan Carr, Athlete: Sammy Carlson, Location: Whistler, BC, Canada

10 Social Media tips from Dan Carr

Having an effective social media strategy is essential for pro photographers. Red Bull Illume photographer Dan Carr offers ten tips for photographers looking to improve their social workflow…

#1 It’s not all about Facebook
Late in 2013, Facebook made sweeping changes to their algorithm that determines how much content from fan pages is seen in people’s news feeds. In many cases less than 10% of your fans will actually be shown the content you post on your page. This means we have to diversify and not just concentrate on Facebook!

#2 Maximize your engagement with Buffer

Buffer is an incredible free tool that queues up your content and posts it at the time that will get you the most engagement. You can also use Tweroid to analyze your own Twitter followers and find out what times they are most active.

#3 Automation is awesome
IFTTT is a free service that allows you to automate many of your social media tasks. Connect all of your accounts together in one place and you can post your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook automatically or share your Instagram photos to Flickr and Tumblr. The possibilities are endless and time saved here is more time behind the camera which is where you are most valuable!

#4 Don’t forget about LinkedIn
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to connect with potential clients and it’s probably the one that’s most underused by photographers. Did you know that you can actually include a portfolio of images right on your LinkedIn page at the bottom of your bio?

#5 Remain consistent wherever possible
Try to keep your social media usernames consistent across all platforms. I use dancarrphoto as my username on everything so that people become familiar with it and can find me anywhere without searching. (, etc)

#6 Understand your goals
Managing many social media accounts and projects can be very time consuming if you’re not careful. You must clearly define some goals that include how you are going to profit from this time that you invest.  Simply getting more followers should not be the goal. The goal should always be converting those followers into clients, whether that is though print sales or new job commissions.

#7 Find content that resonates with your audience
As photographers we are sharing a lot of images on social platforms but it’s important to mix it up and share other types of content as well. Share some techniques, or a behind the scenes look at your latest shoot. Make the content genuinely useful and inciteful and it will often get shared far more than a single pretty photo.

#8 Keep the conversation alive
Set aside some time to engage with fans and followers who have sent you a message or left a question on a post or photo. Be approachable and genuine with your responses so that people can get to know who you are, you could be talking to your next client! If you need to liven things up a little, flip things around and ask them a question. Even if it’s as simple as asking what their favorite lens is, questions will usually get a much higher engagement than a simple status update.

#9 Find your target audience
According to Mashable, one third of women in the US use Pinterest. That’s three times higher than the number of men that use it. If you’re also in the wedding or family photography business then you definitely take a look at sharing your work on Pinterest.

#10 A photo is worth more than 140 characters
Twitter is becoming an increasingly visual platform with photos now appearing prominently in peoples feeds amongst the usual tweets. Try sharing a photo a day, tagged with relevant #hashtags and you’ll soon start to pick up new followers.


If you’d like to learn more from Dan, he has a free eBook that covers many other aspects of running a successful photography business, like e-mail marketing and image pricing. You can get that eBook right here. Dan’s writing and photography can also be found at Shutter Muse.

© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool

Adventure photography in South Africa’s Drakensberg

Photographer Kelvin Trautman recently covered athletes Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s record-breaking run in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountain range, notorious for its tough terrain and changeable weather. We asked Kelvin a few questions about covering the Drakensberg Grand Traverse:

How tough was it to set everything up?
It took three months of route recce’s, team meetings, hours poring over maps, back and forth with permit offices, to collate a 45 page production booklet that mapped out, in theory, how we (the film crew and myself) were to cover the event. I say ‘theory’ because as with any shoot in the mountains, mother nature often throws a seemingly faultless shoot plan out the window within a couple hours of starting.

How did you keep up with the athletes?
By helicopter and on foot. When on the ground I ran with Ryan and Ryno anywhere between 2 and 25km at a time (night and day). The remoteness of the area meant getting images out to the world posed a problem so we planned two helicopter ferries back to our mobile base camp during the attempt so that I could quickly download, tag and upload images for media.

What kind of shots were you after?
When in the air I looked to shoot images that put into perspective the remote, raw landscape. The time spent in close quarters with the athletes gave me a chance to shoot the more emotive, detailed images – I planned on shooting most of these images towards the end where Ryan and Ryno’s mental and physical exhaustion had no filter!

What difficulties did you face?

Since the Drakensberg mountain range is incredibly inaccessible, everyone had to be mountain savvy and vigilant about safety at all times. To be safe, we set aside a weather window of 10 days as to reduce the chances of running into any major weather nuances during the record attempt.

Finding the athletes was a major hassle as Ryan and Ryno could course their way along the escarpment wherever it suited. To avoid flying around aimlessly, the mobile base camp sent us GPS co-ords of the runners’ position every 20 minutes.

How did you gear up?
I divvied my gear into two bags. A helicopter bag and a running bag. The heli bag obviously contained a much wider array of gear when compared to the much lighter, slimmed down running pack.

The helicopter bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 45L backpack
Nikon D4, D800 camera bodies
Nikon 400mm, 70-20mm, 105mm macro, 24-70mm, 50mm, 14-24mm, 16mm fisheye lenses
A Manfrotto monopod
Two spare camera batteries per body
Four 32G x800 Lexar CF and four Lexar 32G SD memory cards
A couple Hoya filters, namely a 77mm ND4, and variable density

The running bag included the following:
Lowerpro Rover Pro 35L backpack
Nikon D610 camera body
Nikon 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 14-24mm
A couple spare camera batteries
A Nikon SB-900 Speedlight plus a Pocket Wizard mini TT1 and Flex TT5 transmitter and transceiver
Two 32G x800 Lexar CF and two Lexar 32G SD memory cards

Be sure to check out Kelvin’s website or follow him on Twitter.

© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
© Kelvin Trautman
© Kelvin Trautman
© Kelvin Trautman
© Chris Burkard

Chris Burkard's quest for the cover

How does a photographer go about nailing the perfect cover? Red Bull Illume chats to Chris Burkard and discovers the journey behind the epic shot for his latest Surfer Mag cover (in the gallery):

Where were you?
On the Aleutian Islands in Alaska along with surfers Peter Devries, Josh Mulcoy, Alex Gray and videographer Ben Weiland in search of empty undiscovered waves. This region is one of the harshest in the world and made up of a chain of 14 volcanic islands.

That’s pretty stormy stuff…
The weather is unpredictable and storms brew quickly. No matter how many scenarios I played in my head beforehand, the waves we got were beyond my imagination and the rawness of the coastline was unlike anywhere in the world!

How did you get around?
We had to take a series of puddle jumper flights, often sharing plane space with supplies for the small villages we would be flying into. We were equipped with a set of ATVs and used these as our sole mode of transportation while on the island!

Tell us about how you found this location…
Each day we rode miles and miles to remote beaches searching for setups where there would be potential for surf. We initially found this setup on Google Earth but didn't see its full potential until we arrived on ATVs. Once we found this location we instantly knew it had potential for the cover shot because it had one of the most dynamic backgrounds.  

The conditions look perfect…
It was a testament to our persistence of getting up early and getting on it because the weather shifts so easily out there. So it only happened because we were on it early! The beach was a rare sight as the clouds broke and a volcano that hadn’t been visible due to cloud cover the days prior was crystal clear. And then Josh Mulcoy carved a turn in the frozen water for the perfect moment…

So there you have it… Sometimes you literally need to go to the ends of the earth for the perfect cover. Be sure to look out for ‘The Cradle of Storms’ – a 25-minute film that covers this trip is coming up on

© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard
© Chris Burkard

Exploring Jaanus Ree’s Mind-Bending Shoot

Red Bull Illume photographer Jaanus Ree enjoys taking brain-teasing images. If you closely examine his Top 50 New Creativity shot of athlete Gard Hvaara (in the gallery), you will discover that the shot is not taken from directly above – instead the athlete is riding a wall at a 90-degree angle.

Ree has now produced another mind-bending shot:
“I wanted to create a photo where the viewer has to think where the photographer is and how the rider is able to do something in an impossible place. So I created a room where all the stuff that is usually on the floor would be attached on the wall and vice versa.”

Good preparation ensured everything went smoothly:
“We ran a test shoot that night before – as we didn’t want to ruin the set, the assistants helped by running bare footed and jumping over the bookshelf to get the best light. The final photo came out even better than I imagined thanks to Simon Stricker whose performance was out of the box for those hard conditions – there was minimal room for riding!”

Want more? Be sure to head over to Jaanus' website & follow him on Facebook.

Photographer: Jaanus Ree, Athlete: Gard Hvaara, Location: Tallinn, EstoniaJuhaniSarglep
Photographer: Jaanus Ree, Athlete: Gard Hvaara, Location: Tallinn, EstoniaJuhaniSarglep
© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool

5 Tips for shooting Skydiving and Wingsuit Flying

Photographer Michael Clark recently completed another great shoot in Arizona with the Red Bull Air Force. Shooting B.A.S.E. jumping, skydiving and wingsuit flying is notoriously difficult even for top photographers – so Red Bull Illume caught up with Clark to discuss some pro tips. Enjoy five great tips from the adventure sports photographer below:

#1 Use a high framing rate
The athletes are falling away from you at 9.81 m/s2, which means within a second they are moving at over 160 km/h. Hence, it helps massively to have a camera with a fast framing rate. I’d say 8 frames per second (fps) minimum, 10-12 fps or more is a much better option.

#2 Work with the athletes to set up the shot
Before they jump off the cliff or exit the airplane, have a discussion with the athletes so that you know what they are going to do and you can position yourself accordingly. When working with B.A.S.E. jumpers get as close to the take off positions as possible or move to the side so you can get a figure-in-a-landscape type image showing part of the huge cliff and the exposure. If you are mounting a camera on a skydiver’s helmet, explain what type of images you would like to get. It will usually take several jumps to help get things dialed in if you are directing the athlete.

#3 Use remote cameras to get additional images
Since the athletes become a dot in the sky so quickly, the only way to get images in the air is with a camera mounted on a helmet that is either remotely triggered or constantly shooting via an intervalometer. My Nikon D4 can shoot raw images at 4 fps until it fills up the card. Hence, I can mount it on a helmet and just let it rip for the entire descent. Andy Farrington, of the Red Bull Air Force team, uses a mouth trigger to take images with his Canon 5D Mark III. He bites down on the trigger while flying to shoot images and composes them with a custom made eye-sight.

#4 For B.A.S.E. jumping use PocketWizards to trigger multiple cameras
When shooting B.A.S.E. jumping I use multiple cameras set up on tripods to shoot the action from a few different angles. To trigger the cameras, I use PocketWizard radio transceivers. I mount one on the camera I am shooting with and then attach one to each of the other cameras so that every time I take a photo the remote cameras are also firing.

#5 Crank your ISO up to gain Depth of Field
Because the athletes are moving so fast, the autofocus on even the best pro DSLRs will have a hard time keeping up and you won’t really have any idea of where they are going to be in the frame until they jump. In some cases just keeping the athlete in the frame can be difficult. Hence, I recommend cranking up the ISO settings and using a smaller aperture like f/8 or f/11 if possible. Doing so will give you an extra cushion with the autofocus, making sure that the athletes are in focus no matter what the composition.  

Be sure to check out more of Michael’s work on his website.

© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool
© Michael Clark/Red Bull Content Pool


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