How to create stunning photos with a smartphone and drone!

Red Bull Illume finalist and SanDisk Extreme Team member Marcel Lämmerhirt teams up with Fabio Studer and Thomas Feurstein to show you how to create and take epic adventure and action sport photos with your smartphone or drone.

© Marcel Lämmerhirt

Whether shooting action, portraits or at night you don't need heavy camera equipment at all times, all that is required is your phone or drone, some apps and imagination. Let SanDisk Extreme Team Member Marcel Lämmerhirt guide you!

Submit your smartphone and drone photos to the Image Quest 2019:

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Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020 is here!

A contest for adventure and action sports content creators to celebrate their creativity in 2020 on Instagram.


© Thomas Morel / Red Bull Illume

It’s official! Red Bull Illume is hosting a new contest, bringing you more of the world’s greatest adventure and action content with the Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest. It’s a celebration of all the outstanding creativity that is coming out on Instagram in 2020 and submissions open on June 1, 2020. Red Bull Illume wants to showcase the passion and dedication of photo- and videographers pushing the boundaries of content creation.

The Special Image Quest 2020 has three categories you can submit your still or moving images into, as well as a fourth and totally new one which calls for your most creative adventure and action sports Instagram stories. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional photographer or a first-time content maker, it’s the idea and execution that counts.

See all 4 categories and descriptions


The competition runs for 5 weeks from June 1, 2020 at 00:00 CET until July 5, 2020 at 23:59 CET. The Red Bull Illume jury will select the 5 still and 5 moving images per category, plus the 5 best stories every week. This selection will be displayed on our website. where the community will have the power to vote for their weekly finalists in each category and the winners are announced every Monday from June 15, 2020. An external panel of judges comprised of photo editors, digital experts, and world-renowned athletes will then select the category winners and thereafter the overall winners.

Full timeline and submission details


For the first time there will be 3 overall winners because still and moving content will be adjudicated separately. Each category (with the exception of Storytale) will have a moving image winner and a still image winner, resulting in: 1 Overall Still Image Winner, 1 Overall Moving Image Winner, and 1 Overall Storytale Winner. The winners will be announced on July 30, 2020.

As an overall winner, you’ll earn the title of being an official Red Bull Illume Winner and receive a tailor-made and out of this world experience from Red Bull. Your content will also be added to the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour that’s currently travelling all around the world, gaining great exposure with a community of people passionate about the adventure and action scene.

Get ready to show the world your adventure and action creations! Start by checking out your existing footage or finally making that content you’ve been thinking about because submissions open on June 1, 2020.
Stay tuned to and follow us on your favorite social media channels to get the latest news!

Red Bull Illume is back in 2020

A brand-new contest from Red Bull Illume kicks off on June 1, 2020, to celebrate your extraordinary imagery.

People become more creative when faced with a challenge, that’s a fact. Right now, no matter where you are in the world, you have probably found yourself finding new ways to stay relevant and do what you do best. The result? A variety of unbelievable, unforgettable, and we believe, award-winning content. It’s for this reason that Red Bull Illume is happy to announce a special contest, starting next Monday, June 1, 2020.

Red Bull Illume celebrates the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery content creators with Illume Image Quest; this special contest is no different. With all the amazing creative work coming out in 2020, this additional special contest aims to provide a platform for you to showcase your originality on Instagram.
Have you challenged yourself to create something totally new? It’s time to go through your 2020 content or perhaps even plan the next shoot. Start now, because the contest opens for submissions next Monday! All the details will be announced and shared this Thursday, May 28, 2020. Mark it in your calendar and keep a look out on and our social media channels.

Gallery: Epic self-portraits that made the Red Bull Illume finals

You heard right, there are “Selfies” that made it into the Red Bull Illume Image Quest final in the past. Now obviously we’re not talking about your average mirror snapshot, but photographs that took a different, surprising approach, no matter if they were spontaneous snaps or well planned creations. Get inspired to be your own subject with these 6 images from the past 10 years of Red Bull Illume!

Social Media 101 with Fabien Maierhofer

Social Media has become one of the most important creative outlets, especially for photographers who want to share their work with the world. But what does a picture need to perform well on Instagram? How do you choose what to post and how can it help your work as a professional photographer? Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist and social media expert Fabien Maierhofer gives us some insight on how (and why!) he uses social media.

The Image Quest 2019 saw a completely new category, Best of Instagram by SanDisk, which reflects how important social media has become for photographers over the past few years. With the fascinating image of a skier without snow french freeskier Fabien Maierhofer was one of the finalists of this category. With his award-winning web series "Bon Appetit" on YouTube Maierhofer has shifted his perspective more towards content creation online. With us he talked about this transition and more.

Your iconic shot of the skier made it to the final stage of the Image Quest 2019 in the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category. How important is social media for your work as a photographer?

Social Media is a big opportunity to show my work and for a lot of great photographers this is the best tool to show their pictures to the world. Previously, it was really hard to share what you created with a large number of people.

Why did you choose to submit to this category?

Submitting to Best of Instagram was the easiest way for me and it also meant that I could submit a little bit earlier.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the shot? How did it come about?

Although the shot looks out of this world, it was actually taken at the Col d’Izoard, a mountain pass in the Hautes-Alpes region in France. The image was captured while I was filming a behind the scenes video for one of my projects. When I saw the skier with the suit and the rocks I just took a quick snapshot for my Instagram. It’s funny because it looks so unrealistic and it made me question if skiing will look like that in the future due to climate change.  

Your transition from a professional freestyle skier to a content creator seems pretty smooth. Were there any challenges for you?

The real challenge is to be good in both! I’m still a professional skier and need to perform well on my skis but I also need to work on my photography skills. When I’m skiing the first thing I do is ski down the mountain and then, when I’ve reached the bottom I try to take pictures for practice. The only bad thing though, is that now I have to carry a heavy bag when I’m skiing.

What are you more passionate about: skiing or photography?

I think nowadays it’s 34% skiing, 33% film making and 33% photography. No, I’m just kidding, I don’t want to choose between my passions.

What inspires you to create?

Mountains always inspire me. Outdoor sports take up a lot of my free time and it’s crazy to see all of those colors, landscapes and adventures you can find there. I just love the mountains.

What do you usually look for in an image? What makes the “perfect” image for you?

The first thing I look for is a good landscape even before I look for the action. The perfect image is the right move in the right place. And if you have great light as well, you will make a really awesome picture.

What does an image need to perform well on social media?

If you want your picture to perform well on social media I think it has to be vertical. It also helps if it’s a bright shot that is understood by everyone.

What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

Definitely YouTube! You are able to tell a story and you can take your time with it as well. If people want to see behind the scenes material I redirect them to my Instagram. That’s where I usually show that kind of stuff. That’s also a great way to connect the different social media platforms.

Where can we find more of your work?

I share video content, tutorials and podcasts on my YouTube channel. Right now, you have to speak French to understand it, but I’m working on subtitles. On my Instagram account I constantly share images of my adventures.

Wings for Life World Run connects runners globally for good cause this Sunday

On May 3, people across the globe will start simultaneously in the Wings for Life World Run, a charity run that raises funds for spinal cord injury research. Thanks to a special running App, participants can feel the thrill of being chased by a “moving finish line,” the so-called Catcher Car – all while safely distanced from others. It’s one of the few runs with global impact, if not the only one, to carry on as scheduled this spring.

Participant performs during the sixth edition of the Wings for Life World Run - App Run in Budapest, Hungary on May 5, 2019. // Balazs Palfi for Wings for Life World Run // AP-1Z8JH6CH52511 // Usage for editorial use only //

In the Wings for Life World Run, participants run for those who can’t: people affected by spinal cord injury. And this year’s seventh edition of the run will be unique. On May 3, all participants will start precisely at 1 PM CEST. But they will each run on their own against a virtual Catcher Car on the Wings for Life World Run App. Separated by distance, yet united in spirit. 

Colin Jackson, the Olympic silver medalist in hurdling who is International Sports Director of the Wings for Life World Run, says, “I have been touched by the passion of our participants for this great cause, this year more than ever. We’re especially excited to offer this opportunity at a time when so many people have not been able to participate in the joy of mass running events due to the need for social distancing. The run with the App enables everyone to participate individually.” 

The Wings for Life World Run raises funds for the not-for-profit foundation Wings for Life, which has funded 211 research projects in 19 countries. Runners of all levels are welcome, and across the six editions completed so far, more than 620,000 registered participants from 193 nationalities have run, walked and rolled in over 70 countries across all seven continents, raising €26.5 million for the good cause.

With registration open until one hour before the official start time of 11:00am UTC, anyone can join the Wings for Life World Run community to run for those who can’t on May 3, 2020. The running app is available for download at the App Store and Google Play. 

For more information go to

Almost a visual Q&A with Kamil Sustiak

We planned a traditional Visual Q&A with Kamil Sustiak, winner of Best Mountain Sports Image by Salewa and Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist, but the stories behind each of his jaw-dropping images were too interesting not to be told. That's why we made a little exception to the rule!

Kamil Sustiak's shot that made it to the final stage of the Image Quest 2019 and took away the Best Mountain Sports by Salewa Award, shows the impact light can have on scenery. It highlights the human capabilities and willpower in a truly unique way. Find out what inspires Kamil, what's his favorite style of photography and what challenges he has to overcome when shooting.

How would you describe yourself?

I'm a Czech climber who spent a season in New Zealand with no rope, no climbing gear and no climbing shoes. But what I did have with me was a camera. That season I fell in love for the third time (first was when as a boy I went climbing for the first time, the second time was when I met my now-wife) and I have been obsessed with taking photos ever since. The most natural thing for me to do was to point my camera at my climbing mates but with time I also focused on highlining, trail running and BASE jumping. Basically, if it's adventurous and takes place in nature, I'm shooting it. With my wife and two dogs I'm building a live in the Blue Mountains, Australia, it's like living the dream for me!

Why are you passionate about photography?

There are so many things I love about photography. The creative aspect of conceiving a shot, pushing the technology to its limits, immersing myself in adventures, travelling to beautiful and often unknown places. The more passion I put into my projects the more amazed I am of the results, it's quite addictive.

What inspires you the most?

Landscapes fire my imagination, I'm in awe of the mountains, afraid of raging rivers, transfixed by the swell and retreat of the ocean, humbled by ancient forests, but without the people nothing I do would make sense. They are the beating heart of all my photos. Without people there is no adventure, I get my drive from the people around me. When they push their limits and throw themselves at the impossible so that they burst with effort and emotion that is what inspires me to ensure my work does justice to their dreams.

What's your favourite photography style?

I try to find the strong and powerful human in beautiful natural landscapes, chasing that fleeting perfect light that only comes at the end of the day or at the beginning of a storm. But I also show up when I don't get perfect light conditions. I get out of bed when the forecast is grim, I rap over the cliff edge even when I’m not sure it’s worth it because you can still tell a powerful story in the contrast of the middle of the day or when the rain is smashing down. What I love is that when you get it right, photography can freeze these moments of pain and fear, elation and grandeur in a way that it can tell a story of place and people that is so much bigger than that single frame.

What captures your attention immediately?

Natural, sculptured shapes daubed with swirls of colour draw my eye, add in the changing play of the light illuminating a human doing something incredible and my eyes bulge. Other than that, I am attracted to human faces charged with emotion, be that elation, frustration or insufferable pain – that really gets my shutter pressing.

What was the most challenging shot for you?

Remote location, a brutal walk, a lonely mountain, unpredictable weather and having no second chances to capture both climbing up and BASE jumping off – shooting on Frenchmans Cap in Tasmania’s Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park was tough. But we were a team of six and collective suffering does wonders to lessen your own – it also helps when you’re in paradise.
The six of us were there to make a feature film of the whole trip but it is shooting the jumping that I remember most clearly, back then I had never even seen a BASE jump before, let alone photographed one. The first time I was terrified, hardly able to think. ’Five. Four. Three...’ just stick to the pre-composed frame “...Two. One. See ya!” They jumped, the camera fired, the whistling of the tracking suits faded, I could not breathe then relief flooded in as I heard the bang of the canopy opening far below.

And what was the most rewarding one?

Reward is a strange thing; is it nailing the perfect shot? Is it getting paid back for dragging yourself out of bed? Is it realizing that just turning up is half the game? I woke up and the first thought that came to my mind was this morning was going to be special – to be fair I always say that as it makes hitting the snooze button way harder. When we arrived to the line though it was surrounded by fog so thick you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. An hour passed and still the magical sunrise I had envisaged hadn’t materialized. I thought, “Well, not today mate. It’s happened before. It’ll happen again... the world is not turning around your camera lens.” I was ready to bail when in a dramatic whoosh the fog dropped a tiny bit down into the valley leaving us in an otherworldly middle space between the surging cloud above and the roiling fog below. It lasted no more than an hour before the sun burnt everything off and the world turned normal again.

What do you look for in a picture?

I look for natural wonder and human drama. For me, a good adventure photo will usually have one or the other but great photos – the kind that make you stop and say “wow”, that make your palms itch with the desire to get out there – must have both. It’s hard to get it right but when you do, actually taking the photos is completely intoxicating. Increasingly for me the magical element is the light and one of my favorite kinds is storm-light. There are seconds when the clouds part or just as the storm eases when the fight between colour and shadow can be at its most intense, then you just have to be lucky enough to be looking at someone doing something awesome.

Where's your favourite location to shoot?

I feel so lucky to live right in the middle of the place that is my favorite to shoot – the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney. Within fifteen minutes of my house there are deep, forested valleys out of which rise huge sandstone cliffs, cliffs that contain literally thousands of climbing routes. The surrounding bush is riddled with hundreds of kilometres of trails to run and hike and bike. The promise of living in an adventure playground attracts runners, climbers, BASE jumpers, flyers, highliners, oddballs and nutjobs – the perfect community to photograph – all of whom are not only pushing themselves but also supporting each other to achieve wild and audacious goals. The Blue Mountains and the unique community that lives there constantly amaze me.

Find more of Kamil's work on his website or follow him on Instagram!

Red Bull Illume Limited Edition Photobook 2019

Adventure and actions sports may be on hold for a little while but that just means it’s the perfect time to gather inspiration for your next sesh! The Red Bull Illume Photobook 2019 is the perfect way to spend your time at home, looking at 260 of the best adventure and action sports images from the Image Quest 2019.


Every image in the Photobook has been selected from a record-breaking 59,551 submitted by thousands of photographers from all over the world. It’s our mission to give honor the hard work and dedication of the artists who pour their passion into creating the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery by giving them the credit that they deserve. It’s the reason these limited edition photobooks are individually numbered and stamped – with only 4,000 available!

If that isn’t enough, every Photobook includes a SanDisk Ultra SD Memory Card (16GB) with the Moving Image Category Videos and a full version of Luminar Photo 4 Editor. That means you or your loved one don’t have to wait for the next adventure to start getting creative. It’s the perfect gift for every adventure and action sports lover.

There are also a handful of Photobooks from previous editions that have been uncovered and are now on sale for a limited time. Perhaps you weren’t able to get one last time, or you’re just looking to experience the full collection? Head on over to COOPH Store and check out all the available bundles up for grabs!

Be sure to get your hands on a limited edition Red Bull Illume Photobook today!

Podcast Series 4/4 - Overall Winner Ben Thouard

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for the fourth and last episode next Tuesday!

© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

This week Red Bull Illume Image Ques 2019 overall winner (and winner of the Energy category) Ben Thouard talks about his journey towards a spending more time under water than above and what taking away the grand prize meant for him personally.

Listen to the Podcast below or head over to Pitched Industries

If you haven't yet done so - make sure to check out the previous episodes:

Episode 1 with Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms 

Episode 2 with RAW category winner Noah Wetzel

Episode 3 with two times category winner and former overall winner Lorenz Holder

More work by Ben Thouard at or on his Instagram @benthouard.

Podcast Series 3/4 - Two times category winner Lorenz Holder

In this series by the Pitched Industries Podcast Red Bull Illume category winners including the overall winner of the Image Quest 2019 give us their unfiltered insights into how they were able to capture their winning images, what inspires them, why they do what they are doing and what winning the Red Bull Illume Image Quest has done (and might be doing) for their careers. Stay tuned for the fourth and last episode next Tuesday!

This week Playground and Masterpiece by EyeEm category winner and two-times overall winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest Lorenz Holder talks about his winning formula and what inspires him to create masterpieces day in day out.

Listen to the podcast BELOW or head over to Pitched Industries​​​​​​​!

If you haven't yet done so, make sure to check out Episode 1 with Innovation by Sony category winner Laurence Crossman-Emms and Episode 2 with RAW category winner Noah Wetzel!

More work by Lorenz Holder at or on his Instagram @lorenzholder.

Dive in! Underwater Photography with Kohei Ueno

Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist Kohei Ueno doesn't like shooting underwater - he lives for it! His black and white image of freedivers at the Freediving Championships in Indonesia is astonishing and daunting at the same time. We wanted to know what it's like to shoot 100m beneath the surface with no air, no light but a lot of water.

Why have you chosen to submit your image to the Image Quest 2019?

I was so impressed and inspired by the submissions of the Red Bull Image Quest competitions in the past that I knew I wanted to be a part of it someday. This is by far the greatest adventure sports photography competition in the world, where photographers capture the spirit of adventure and exploration, where minds and bodies are pushed to the very edge of human limits. To me the sport of freediving fits right into this world, not only as a sport but also as a lifestyle, so I am extremely glad to be selected amongst the very best and represented in this category [Lifestyle].

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience with Red Bull Illume 2019?

The Red Bull Illume 2019 Winner Award Ceremony on top of the Kronplatz Mountain at 7000ft was out of this world, capturing the essence of Red Bull's spirit in style. It was one of the most spectacular photography competition that I've ever been a part of with so many amazing talents and like-minded individuals from across the globe, who all shared the same love and passion for photography and creating stunning images of their sports.


"I experienced a very powerful moment, something so good that I had never felt before."


Your image made it to the final stage, congrats! How did the shot came about?

This shot is an image of a freediver coming up from a competition dive at the AAS Freediving Depth Championships. A rather intense moment where the athlete is awakened from the dark, quiet, lonely depth of space, to the bright, loud, and hectic environment of the surface above. To me, what makes this image even more special is that I've watched this athlete grow over the years, overcoming her own fears one step at a time, from when she could barely dive to a few meters down, to now where she's diving to depth of over 50 meters on one breath of air.

What’s the story behind your love for free diving?

My relationship with the ocean started at 13 years old when I got my first open water scuba certificate, but it was not until the age of 30 when I discovered freediving that transformed the way I saw the ocean. I realised that there was a lot more to freediving than just holding your breath, or the thrill of adrenaline, or to show off or anything like that. When I completed my 16m depth requirement during my first freedive course, I experienced a very powerful moment, something so good that I had never felt before. I was immediately hooked to this new sensation, and I knew right away that this is a sport that I would continue for the rest of my life.

What came first for you: free diving or photography?

I picked up my first 'non-point and shoot' camera when I quit my job at Google to travel the world, self learning on the go with just a basic understanding of aperture, shutter speed and iso. A year later after returning home, I won a grand prize at a major photography competition, and that was when photography became a little more than just a hobby. That same year, I discovered freediving and fell in love with it straight away. Naturally, I took the camera underwater and that's how it all began. So in a way photography came first, but freediving is what got me interested in underwater photography, and I am happy to have found a way to combine the two together.

What fascinates you about underwater photography?

What I find fascinating about shooting underwater on a breath hold is that it has the ability to reset my mind to really focus on the present, washing away everything and anything that goes on above the surface. Everything works differently underwater than it does on land, both physically for our bodies and technically inside the camera, and I find it very interesting to balance these two together. We know so little about the ocean, like we know so little about freediving, and while we can spend all day studying about it from the surface, admiring the weird creatures and science within it, it's quite hard to grasp the true wonders of it all until you dive down and experience it yourself. I hope my images will inspire more people to take that plunge to look closer into our oceans and into ourselves.


"... all while holding your breath and worrying about your own safety as you go deeper and deeper."


One of the biggest challenges when shooting underwater?

When you’re dealing with shooting freedivers who are diving at speeds of one metre a second, things can get really complicated. Not only do you have to adapt to the loss of light at different depths, but also the change in pressure while diving head down with a camera in your hand. Trying to keep steady while fighting against things like current, waves, thermocline and varying visibility, all while holding your breath and worrying about your own safety as you go deeper and deeper. All of this happens at the same time, and that is the most difficult thing about freedive photography.

What do you always have with you equipment-wise?

You absolutely need a good set of underwater housing, and a good pair of fins! To me Nauticam housing is the ultimate when it comes to housing my Sony gears and Molchanovs short fins does wonders for freedive photogaphers like myself. As I shoot mostly wide, my choice of lens is usually the 16-35mm fisheye and a decently sized dome port for above under shots. Also, as I'm near the ocean a lot, one thing I find essential is having a good backup solution. Personally I use a QNAP NAS to backup my files over the network and this really helps with my workflow and a peace of mind knowing that my data is safe even when I'm overseas. I also like to bring a solar panel charger to take advantage of the sun whenever possible as well as Litra lights for occasional night shoots.

Where can we find more of your work?

You can find my work at and Instagram @kuenok. I am also working on some collaborations with art galleries in Singapore and Australia, once I have more details, the information can be found on my website.