Known as the captain of adventure, Will Gadd is a Canadian legend who has consistently broken new boundaries and records climbing and paragliding around the world over the past 30 years. His feats include pushing some of hardest mixed lines of the day to ice climbing Niagara Falls to climbing fast-retreating ice on Kilimanjaro; while as a paraglider pilot he’s broken the distance record three times, once flying over 423km in a single flight. In 2014 he made a 700km traverse of the Rockies with Gavin McClurg, a feat that earned them the title, National Geographic Adventurers of the Year.
But more than his exploits, Gadd is revered in the community for his sage advice, expertise and original thinking. The author of a number of books, blogs and posts, his thoughts on topics such as risk-taking, cold hands and training are hard won, original and always spot-on. His ability to cut through the b-s is second to none. As such, he enjoys an almost godfatherly status in the community, whose opinion is widely sought after and shared. For that reason, he makes the perfect judge for Red Bull Illume.
He says athletes depend on photographers. “Without photography my world is invisible, and I can’t have the career I’ve had. It’s that simple. To produce images that grab the world’s attention with their raw visual power takes an incredible set of both survival and art skills that’s very rare.”
As for his own taste in photography, he says: “I love images that amaze me, rock me back on my heels and make me forget about anything else for that moment. Maybe it’s the composition, and I ask, ‘how did they get into that position or find that light?’ Or, more simply, WTF! The photo [should] hold my attention in a process of discovery. Maybe a shot with some wild sports action, but also a facial expression that says more about the situation than just the wave or rock or sky alone.”
And his no-nonsense advice for would be photographers? “Don’t be a dick. You can be the most talented person in the world, but if you’re a PITA [pain in the ass] to be around then you’ll go nowhere."