Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist Martin Golob usually captures athletes in pure moments of action. He's an experienced pro when it comes to urban sports photography and parkour is his strong point. With this in mind, we asked him what locations he's looking for, what expectations they need to fullfill and how the sport helps him to add a fresh perspective to a well-known spot.
I don't know if I have a style yet, I'm still a young photographer who tries to find himself and I prefer to let people describe me however they want. But I do my best to highlight the earth, the kindness of human beings and the simple nature of these objects.
What makes a "perfect" image to you?
When the image turns out exactly like I imagined it beforehand. For me that's when the subject and nature become one.
The location of the image you submitted to Red Bull Illume is pretty cool. How did you find it?
Ironically, it was not very difficult at all. Germain, the athlete in the image, lives near the spot, so we already knew the location, how to enter it, and the fact that at a certain time the sun will cast a shadow on the wall! But it was really cool to shoot and somebody even stopped to watch us and we had to explain the whole parkour thing.
Where's your favorite spot to take images?
For now, it's in the city. I don't have a particular favorite spot because parkour can bring you to a lot of different places. There's always a location you move in, no matter where you are. But locations with different heights are great because then you can shoot new and interesting perspectives.
How do you find new, undiscovered and stunning locations?
I often work in collaboration with the athlete. Since I do parkour myself, I know where to move, climb and jump. But the physical and mental aspects are not the same for everybody. When I see a spot, I ask the athlete first to see if he feels comfortable performing at the location. I don't plan any action before, I prefer to improvise and decide in the moment. It's always better when you start shooting without any expectations.
What exactly are you looking for when you search new places and locations?
I always lift my head up and look for heights in which the athlete can move smoothly. And it's always better when the location provides unique light conditions.
How do you present well-known places in a new and interesting way?
Parkour makes you able to move everywhere and it makes you see places in a different way. So, in a well-known place you can always add something fresh with these kind of movements.
If a place is very crowded, e.g. with tourists, how do you keep the people out of your image?
By changing the perspective and playing with heights. If there are loads of people I'd have to adapt to the situation myself. But I'm quite good at that since you always have to do that in parkour anyways. If I have to climb up somewhere to get a new angle and people out of my vision I will definitely do it!
How far would you go to get the perfect shot in the perfect location?
I'm not sure if I can say that, but I won't wait for permission if I want to go to a specific place, haha. Sometimes you can't wait on people to do what you want so you have to take matters into your own hands. If you take care of the places you go to and don't leave any waste behind, people will know that you are not here for any trouble.
Do you have some tips on how to find new spots and locations?
The best tip that I can share is to let things happen and to open your eyes - sometimes awesome locations are right next to you. But you won't see them if you don't look around. Of course it always depends on the image you want to take, but in my case, I just walk around the city and try to be hyperaware of everything. And don't forget, anything is possible as long as you haven't tried it!
Where can we find more of your work?
Just follow me on Instagram. I just moved to Paris, France, and can't wait to shoot at new locations. More photos of urban sports and parkour are coming soon!
Red Bull Illume 2021 Photobook - Limited Edition
This limited-edition photobook features the top 256 images of the Image Quest 2021. Be the first to see those inspiring images printed and order your exclusive copy now!
There is something special about climbing photography. It shows us perspectives and vantage points that few, if any of us, are brave enough to reach. It calls on us to admire not only the climber and the physical strength and poise required to move in this vertical terrain – but the photographer too. Not only have they shared the suffering to get into position, they’ve also held their nerve to frame, compose and get the shot – often with few options to move around, or change a battery. That takes something. To celebrate this unique art form, we went through submissions to bring you the best climbing photography from Red Bull Illume 2021. Sit back and enjoy.
KTM Motohall to host Red Bull Illume Tour Stop
The exhibition will go on display at KTM’s famous museum that celebrates motorcycle history from October 1 to November 1, 2022.
The Red Bull Illume Exhibition, which showcases the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery, is to be displayed at the KTM Motohall, Mattighofen, Upper Austria, from October 1 to November 1, 2022. The opening night is timed to coincide with Austria’s “ORF-Long Night of Museums”, when hundreds of museums open their doors until 1AM, and can all be visited with a single ticket. The event has been taking place for 22 years and the KTM Motohall is one of the museums taking part.
The KTM Motohall is located in the center of Mattighofen. The museum, spread over an area of around 10,000 square meters, provides visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of KTM. The imposing building architecture symbolizes the impressive dynamics of the now world-famous motorcycle company. In an interactive exhibition over three floors, visitors can learn all about the history and design processes of KTM motorcycles and get a good look at all the technical details. Special highlights include the KTM motorcycles exhibited on a recreated banked curve and the Heroes floor – an exhibition showcasing the most successful KTM riders of all time and their bikes including a 360-degree video installation. In addition to a varied range of activities for children, classic motorcycles are given a new lease of life in the living workshop in the basement of the KTM Motohall, as well as a fan store. The KTM Motohall is also the ideal location for corporate events with up to 350 people.
From October 1, there’s another reason to visit, and that’s the chance to see the 56 winning images of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest. With its high-octane heritage, the KTM Motohall is the perfect venue to showcase all the action from Red Bull Illume.
Since the Exhibit Tour kicked off in the US, it has traveled across Europe, thanks to a long-term partnership between Red Bull Illume and SES Spar European Shopping Centers, visiting various cities across Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. In September, the Red Bull Illume Exhibition was presented during Berlin Photo Week. Eight more tour stops are planned between now and the beginning of 2023 with the exhibition set to come to MURPARK, Graz, Austria, and HUMA ELEVEN in Vienna, Austria.
Can't make it to Mattighofen? Here's the full list of the upcoming tour stops!
From dusk till dawn
In this gallery we share some of the most stunning Red Bull Illume shots that either happened at sunset or sunrise.
The action doesn't stop at sunset – it continues throughout the night until the sun eventually appears in the morning. The best photographers will be there waiting for the moment. In this gallery we've pulled together some of the best Red Bull Illume shots taken between dusk and dawn from Wayne Reiche's shot of BMX rider Murray Loubser in Cape Town to Daniel Rönnbäck's shot of Tof Henry jumping a gap on a Norwegian peak. There are nighttime long exposures, dawn climbs under headlamp and surfers relaxing at the end of the day. The one constant? Somebody with a camera thinking, this would make a great shot. And you know what? They were right.
Inside the mind of a creative master
Few photographers are as original and creative as Czech pro Dan Vojtech. He tells us the inside story behind his Innovation by EyeEm shot.
I love combining different things together and this time it was skateboarding and video mapping. I had this idea in my head for quite a long time. I did one small successful test but I was busy with commercial projects and traveling to make it on a bigger scale. In 2021 I contacted Maxim Habanec and my friends from Lunchmeat studio (the video mapping company) and explained them my idea and they were happy to cooperate with me. Most of the jobs were canceled because of COVID so it was great opportunity to spend some extra free time.
What was the most difficult part?
There were several challenges during this project. The first one was how to build a set with 8 big beamers. We had to mount them under the ceiling to keep space free without any cables (hundreds of meters) or stands. Beamers are quite heavy, ceiling-high and we had no heavy machines, only ladders. This took us two nights. The second challenge was how to light up Max with strobes while not disturbing the projection in the background. I had to be very precise with strobes and use grids and reflectors.
And the most rewarding part?
The best part was when we turned off all the lights in the Maxspace and turned on the projectors. We felt like we were in a video game. It was crazy!
What equipment did you use?
I was shooting with lenses from 16mm to 200mm and I used external battery powered flashes with reflectors and grids. These were important so I only lit the skaters and didn't interfere with the video mapping.
How did you work the light?
Light played a very important role. It was necessary to find the ideal ratio of light between projections and flashes. There must have been very little light in the hall because of the projection. It made skateboarding very difficult.
How did you explain your vision with the athlete?
I think it's very important to explain to skateboarders exactly what you intend to do. It's always good to be familiar with the sport, then you understand what is possible. First we always agree on what obstacle we are going to shoot on. I then choose a suitable angle and light the place. The skateboarders then ride and I try to capture the best moments. I always consult with them on the final photos.
How did you get the idea for the image?
I love video mapping and have had a similar idea in my head for a long time. When the opportunity came up to use it for the Maxspace it was only a matter of time.
Any other exciting projects you can tell us about?
I definitely plan to continue similar projects. Now I'm experimenting with using a drone for light-painting and Infrared photography, so stay tuned!
Check out the behind-the-scenes video of Dan's awesome project here!
My first image in Red Bull Illume in 2013 still gets brought up by people today almost ten years later. It left a mark and I’m pretty fortunate to be able to share such a special image.
How did you get into photography?
My parents had a bluegrass band growing up and my mom would hand me her 35mm camera while they played shows and I ran around taking pictures at a pretty young age. I guess that would be the start, but years later I took a photography class in high school and was pretty hooked on it. My teacher gave me a lot of flexibility to go shoot the team sports. I was also into mountain biking at that time and just put it together one day to shoot mountain bike. That's when it really all came together and could see that it was something I was really interested in doing. By the time I was headed to college, I realized I could possibly make a career out of photography so I went to photo school in Seattle. Now, 12 years later, it's the only job I've held.
How do you build important relationships that help you professionally?
I treat everyone with respect and make no judgements of someone; they could be your next client. I've been great friends with one of my biggest clients for nearly ten years and had some great times together. Just being a fun person and a quality human goes a long way in the professional world.
How do you reach out to potential new clients?
I've tried most of the methods, I’m not really sure what works the best, but I really believe in more of an in-person approach. I just get a lot more done out of a conversation than sending emails into space that someone might never see. I've had good luck going to trade shows and chatting up potential companies I would want to work with.
What sets your images apart?
I like to shoot big scenes and show nature, elements, scenery around the action. I don't think it sets me apart from anyone else, but I just like to convey the feeling of where I'm at and hope that someone can feel like they are right there experiencing the moment.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
From the other photographers that I've looked up to for years and new ones. It just puts the fire in me to do better and get out of my comfort zone.
What tips do you have for young photographers?
Photography will evolve with experience, so just keep shooting what you like to shoot and the rest will follow. Put yourself out there, meet new people, athletes, industry marketing folks, be apart and stick out in your community, be humble and don't get dejected. It takes a long time to make it happen but it's sure worth it in the long run.
Check out Paris' website and follow him on Instagram to see more of his professional work.
Show me the light
Red Bull Illume semi-finalist Toby Cowley tells us why happiness involves shooting riders in great light with great composition.
Where does your photography passion come from? I don’t think it can be summed up as one thing, there’s a lot to be inspired by everyday (light, color, people, nature) that makes me want to pick up a camera and take a photo. And there’s always more to learn and improve on that keeps me intrigued.
Why do you focus on biking? It’s just what I know, I’ve followed and been around two wheels for as long as I can remember and it’s how my career as a photographer began. As much as I love shooting biking, I definitely try to spend time photographing outside of my niche.
How do you capture the perfect moment? These days with cameras that shoot 30fps it has become a lot easier to get the timing right on a shot. Unless I’m shooting film, and then it’s a combination of knowing the sport/trick and luck.
Tell us a little bit more about the image you submitted to the Image Quest 2021. How did it come about? Was it spontaneous or planned in detail? One of my favorite things about photography is playing with light and shadows, so when I noticed the shadow spilling onto the sphere it seemed like a good opportunity to get some separation between Brandon and the feature.
How long did it take you to get the shot? It only took a few takes, there was a pretty small window where there was just the right ratio of shadow to light. So fortunately Brandon was able to ride the sphere pretty consistently every time and everything came together relatively quick.
Check out how this incredible image came together and watch the behind-the-scenes video featuring athlete Brandon Semenuk here!
How important is the relationship between athlete and photographer? Communication is key for both the athlete and the photographer, if the rider is planning to do a trick only once, it’s important for me to make sure I know what trick they’re doing and then figure out which angle shows that trick the best. If I have an idea for a shot, I’ll run it by the athlete so that we’re on the same page before they drop in.
When are you happy with your images? When light, riding, composition all comes together, that’s definitely when I’m the happiest.
What’s up next for you? Any exciting projects you can share with us? I can’t give away too much but I’m just finishing up a bigger project that will hopefully be released next month. And then a couple smaller shoots in the next couple weeks, I’m excited for a busy summer!
If you want to see more of Toby's work follow him on Instagram @tobycowley or check out his website!
Illuminate your space with the incredible winning images
Red Bull Illume is all about the art of adventure and action sports photography and now you can experience these images like never before!
2021 was an edition like no other, with the one-of-a-kind Winners’ Unveiling Week from November 29 to December 4, in which all of the finalists and winning images were revealed on Instagram Live. The overall winner, Will Saunders, received his trophy on the final night on the snow-covered mountains in Aspen Snowmass, CO, USA.
Visiting a tour stop is just one of the ways you can experience these incredible images, or you could buy your very own. What are we talking about? Well, for the first time ever, you can own a high-end print and turn your home into an art gallery. Check out all the limited-edition prints that are available to order on COOPH, including Will Saunders' winning shot. It's a totally new way to experience these incredible images, thanks to our partners WhiteWall and COOPH.
Can't choose which winning image you love the most? The limited-edition Red Bull Illume Photobook contains the top 256 images from the contest, all within the pages of this high-quality hardcover book. There are only 3,000 copies available, each individually numbered and stamped. It's the ultimate collector's item and makes an incredible gift for any photography lover. Order your very own copy here.
The art of kayak photography
Persistence pays off when it comes to shooting action on a river, says Rod Hill, winner of Energy by Red Bull Photography.
I wouldn’t actually say I'm a photographer, it's more of a lifelong passion for me. My mother always had a camera ready when we were growing up. Then my brother studied photography at secondary school but stopped after a year. I picked up his camera and started to play around a bit. We did a lot of surf adventures around the North Island of New Zealand and I thought it would be good to get some photos from that. Then the travel bug really kicked in and 46 countries later I still absolutely love travel photography. I started with print film then progressed to slide film mostly in Europe and Africa, then finally digital.
You’re a teacher, do your students know about your second life?
Absolutely not! 99% of students are convinced teachers do not have lives. They assume we are born teachers. I bumped into two students who were swimming at a local river. I was abseiling down the side of the waterfall. Needless to say, they were quite surprised.
What sports do you focus on and why?
I would love to shoot more sports but access is not that easy. I have no press credentials and turning up to photograph kids playing soccer or something could be misconstrued! So, focusing on kayaking has allowed me to shoot as much and as often as I like. Kayakers are very photogenic too. Also, I can try my hand at bird and nature photography while I wait for kayakers. The rivers are exceptionally beautiful. I would like to get more mountain bike photos because that was a sport I was heavily involved in for quite a long time but for the foreseeable future, rivers, birds and kayakers fill the day!
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is an interesting concept. I don’t really get inspiration to shoot photos as such. I get inspired to live life as best as I can. Getting photos I'm proud of just happens to be part of that.
What makes a ‘good’ image in your opinion?
Aside from the technical aspects such as composition and the rule of thirds, I think a good photograph starts and finishes with interesting light. I try to avoid cropping so everything in the photograph should be there for a reason. I really like Michael Clark’s and Lorenz Holder’s images. They always have lots of layers to them.
How has winning the Energy by Red Bull Photography category changed things?
I'm still the same person – wet and often freezing cold on the side of a river waiting for kayakers to go by. On a personal level, I am super proud of my achievement. Being only the second Kiwi to win a category behind the legend Dean Treml is also quite humbling too. It has legitimized my passion but I still have so much more to learn.
I am in the early stages of sorting a trip to Mexico with George Snook and hopefully Rafa Ortiz with the help of Red Bull Photography. It was part of the prize from Red Bull Illume. I am also working on a new project closer to home, Tree Trunk Gorge to be exact. I have some ideas for there. It's quite steep and sketchy but nothing a couple of ascenders, harness, a really long rope and maybe a drone wouldn’t fix.
Any tips for up-and-coming photographers?
There is always someone better than you. Guaranteed. You need thick skin, persistence and YouTube. I have found the better the photographer the more likely they are to help with advice. Although he wouldn’t remember, Michael Clark was very helpful several years ago and also a pro sports photographer from Napier, New Zealand - Alphapix - he has been really helpful. Really getting to know athletes is also another area often overlooked. Not being a dick also goes a long way.
The Energy category is one of our favorites. It's all about capturing the energy, speed and strength of an athlete in action. The category always attracts an incredibly high standard of entries and the winners consistently take our breath away – which is why we're sharing them below. These are the six Energy winners from the Image Quests 2007 to 2021. As you can see, they've lost none of their power to inspire and awe.
Professional snowboarding photographer Thomas Stöckli became the first ever Energy category winner in 2007 with this shot of Reto Kestenholz in St. Christoph, Austria. He was subsequently a finalist in the 2010 edition.
This epic shot of cliff diver Todor Spasov was taken by Swiss photographer Romina Amato, who got this unique angle from a boat. “I like pictures where it leaves the viewer asking, where is he coming from? Will he survive this? Does that guy seriously think he can fly?”
Ben Thouard didn't just win the Energy category with this shot of Ace Buchan in Tahiti. It went on to be crowned Red Bull Illume Overall Winner. “Shooting surfing from underwater is a whole new world and I love it,” he said at the time.
An image just as powerful today as it was 12 years ago. Taken by legendary Aussie lensman Stuart Gibson, it shows Ryan Hipwood big wave surfing in Tasmania. “The day I got that photo was a really special day in my career,” Gibson recalled.
“A salute to the power and randomness of the ocean, or a mocking attempt at some kind of manipulated sorcery, showing man’s unending quest to control nature.” That was photographer Luke Shadbolt’s take on this 2016 winning shot. Inside info? He didn’t spot surfer Renan Faccini was in the shot until afterwards.
“This shot was not supposed to happen,” recalls Rod Hill, an unassuming chemistry teacher from New Zealand. Kayaker River Mutton was about to go home but decided on one last run. Then the sun suddenly came out. “Straight away I knew this was going to work," Rod said.
Looking for more inspiration or want to see the incredible images other photographers submitted? Then check out our gallery here which features the top images of each edition!
Red Bull Illume is coming to Slovenia
The next SES Exhibit Tour Stops will light up Maribor and Ljubljana!
The next Red Bull Illume Exhibitions will be in EUROPARK, Maribor and ALEJA, Ljubljana in Slovenia. Both tour stops are part of our partnership with SES Spar European Shopping Centers which displays the 56 finalist images inside their premium shopping destinations across Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy. All exhibitions are completely free to visit and can be combined with a shopping trip.
EUROPARK in Maribor – June 23 to July 3
Nestled between the Drava River and the green embrace of the Pohorje forests lies Maribor, the starting point for all kinds of adventures – from skiing to hiking and climbing. It’s the perfect location to host the next Red Bull Illume Tour Stop. The top 56 images will go on display at Maribor’s EUROPARK, from June 23 to July 3, 2022.
For more than 22 years the 2-level and light-flooded EUROPARK with around 120 different stores offers a variety of international and national brands and now, for the first time ever, the Red Bull Illume Exhibition.
Since the shopping mall is located right in the center of Maribor, it can be easily reached by any means of transport and it is the perfect place to meet with family and friends to discover the illuminated images. The exhibition is totally free to view during the centers’ regular hours from 9am to 9pm weekdays and 8am to 9pm on Saturdays.
ALEJA in Ljubljana – July 5 to July 16
The exhibition will then move to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, gateway to the Julian Alps. Once again, the images will be displayed on 2x2 meter lightboxes and showcased from July 5 to July 16 at ALEJA in the heart of Šiška, just to the north of downtown Ljubljana.
The modern shopping mall is located in one of the most popular districts of Ljubljana and has been constructed from 2017 to 2020. It impresses with its mixed-use structure and combines shopping, culinary delights as well as leisure facilities. With 80 different brands, a fitness park, a running track and several relaxing areas ALEJA offers a great variety for every interest and age and goes far beyond the usual shopping trip. It is open Mondays to Saturdays 8am to 9pm.
Both venues are ideal places to check out the incredible winning images of Red Bull Illume and be awe inspired by the world’s greatest adventure and action sports photography. If you happen to be in either of the two cities be sure to explore the exhibits.
Here are the upcoming tour stops throughout the SES Spar European Shopping Centers if you can't make it to Slovenia.