What brings you to Austria?
"I'm here to teach at a Red Bull Photography Academy. I will be teaching six other Red Bull photographers how to shoot wakeboarding – the standard style, what’s good practice in the industry, and my style of photography."
What’s your style of photography?
"I’ve got a nickname in the action adventure sports industry: Flash Garrison. Everything I shoot is flash-based. The shots have a studio look."
Who are the other photographers attending?
"Lorenz Holder (Overall Winner, Red Bull Illume 2013), Matthias Heschl, Philipp Schuster, Corey Rich, Tomislav Moze and Vladimir Rys."
What will they learn?
"The wakeboarding style, the style of the athletes, what the photos need to look like, how the grab should look; basically proper angles for the shots. I’ll be challenging them to push their limits and to become more comfortable in the water."
Why are these workshops important?
"Because they’re an opportunity to share the inside knowledge you gain from shooting the sport for so long. Plus, there’s also the bonus of learning a different style, in this case my flash-based style of shooting wakeboarding."
What are the greatest challenges of shooting wakeboarding?
"Firstly, you’re working on the water. I don’t know what’s the next hardest environment in the world. Shooting skydiving is obviously super hard because you’re unstable, but water is just as challenging. If you’re trying to set up perfect lighting, trying to get a studio look, everything on the water is moving. And obviously water and electronics don’t like each other much."
What advice would you give yourself if you were just starting out?
"Stick to your roots and keep your passion there. I've seen a lot of guys go from shooting action sports to commercial and never go back to action. But sticking to your roots keeps it fun, and helps you to take things from one industry and bring it to another. I see a lot of photographers start out working with action sport magazines and then they’ll start working with brands and dump the editorial side because it’s not profitable. But editorial is your free advertising and the fun stuff."
What was the last workshop or seminar you went to?
"A workshop for car photography. I taught a group of 12 selected guys different styles based around a light painting style that works with a CGI look."
How do you think things will change in the next five years?
"There are more and more people coming into action sports photography and getting status really quick now. It’s crazy seeing the amount of people coming in, the boundaries that are being pushed and how far people are willing to go to get that extra shot. In five years there’s going to be a lot more people."
Are photography and videography converging?
"Oh yeah. I can’t think of the last commercial shoot when I haven’t had to work with videography. Budgets are obviously getting cut a little bit here and there, but at the same time they’re trying to do bigger productions and in order to do that you have to put photography and videography together because that saves time and money. More and more clients are saying it’s great when photographers can work with a video crew. It’s the big thing now."
Thoughts on mobile photography?
"I have a lot of cameras, but I’m always taking photos with my phone because it goes right to Instagram. The mobile cameras are getting better and better. But mobile is more for social, less for advertising. On the editorial side, you barely see GoPro shots, what to speak of mobile."
Where to from here for you?
"I’ve got months of travel ahead of me. But first I’m shooting Red Bull Flugtag in Louisville. It’s in my top three events of the year."
For more of Chris's work, check out his website or head to Instagram.
While waiting for the unveiling of the winners on September 28, 2016, visit the Red Bull Illume social channels on , and for a sneak peek of this edition’s entries. These randomly selected shots showcase just-how impressive the 2016 Red Bull Illume submissions really were.
In the wake: Chris Garrison in Austria
In the action and adventure sport world he’s known as Flash Garrison because his use of light for shooting snowboarding and wakeboarding results in polished, studio-quality images. Chris is constantly traveling the world so we were lucky to catch him for an interview when he visited Red Bull.
What brings you to Austria?