Now you're a Red Bull Illume finalist, describe what the Wings Category means to you?
The Wings Category to me is the moment of flight, the still moment where things go completely quiet. As a photographer, it is the moment my breath stops and I just hear the shutter.
What came first for you - whitewater kayaking or photography?
Whitewater kayaking came to me first, I had just started travelling for whitewater kayaking when I purchased my first camera. After that first big trip abroad my photography passion grew exponentially.
What is it that draws you into the water and whitewater especially?
The flow of being on the river is addictive, once you peel out into the current you are in a different world. Moving downstream with a group of friends in a stunning environment is my happy place for sure! Every river has a different character and spirit, that's what makes travelling around the world and being drawn to new and foreign rivers so appealing.
What are your biggest influences in adventure and action sports photography?
Somehow, I surround myself with crazy people unintentionally all the time, it's the norm now really. Now and again I take a step back and realize that my friends are some of the craziest whitewater kayakers, BASE jumpers and surfers in the world and we are all so privileged to spend our time on this planet checking out wild places and new experiences. Long story short - my influences are my friends, wild places and my drive to be best at what I do.
How did the idea for your finalist shot come about?
Alexandra Falls has fascinated me since I first saw an image of it in 2003. Drone photography has allowed so many more creative angles and perspectives to shoot waterfalls. I thought about the perfect shot for a long time, one that combines both the scale of the waterfall and the perspective of the paddler staring down one hundred feet. When the paddler decides to run down such a steep waterfall, he doesn't think about the perfect light, like I ususally do. As a photographer you have to work with what you have. But I coudn't be happier with the way the image turned out, incorporating the rainbow at the bottom of the falls.
How did you discover the location and meet the athlete?
The location is known in the whitewater scene since its first descent in 2003, it only has been paddled by a few people. Although I knew the rough location, it wasn't until I got there that I fully understood that I was almost in the arctic circle. I traveled there with two friends from home and I met Bren (Orton, ed. note), the athlete, at the Falls as he arrived with another group of some of the world's leading paddlers.
Did the final image turn out exactly as planned?
More or less, yes, even better in some ways. I love that you can see the deep water channel so clear. I had not expected this until I first flew the drone over it to do a test shoot.
What was the biggest challenge in capturing this photo?
Managing multiple cameras and getting the timing right. That's always a challenge when you are shooting aerial and handheld at the same time. Also, the athlete usually takes a couple of minutes to get in the right mindset for the drop. The drone battery has a very short lifetime so the timing was key here.
A kayak doesn't have enough space for suitcases full of gear. What do you carry on a regular adventure?
Safety gear, my camera, something to snack on and a lighter and knife are always with me on a day trip in my kayak.
Your ultimate location/athlete/sport to shoot?
Such a hard question! Any wild and remote place with my friends on a river is a dream I will have forever. Whitewater will always be close to my heart but I am shooting a lot more BASE jumping these days. If we are talking dreams though, Dean Potter somewhere in the Yosemite Valley.
How did you discover Red Bull Illume?
I first learned about it when I saw Eric Parker's entry in the last contest. It's a fantastic event and I feel honoured to be a part of it.
Plans vs. dreams for 2020?
My plans this year take me to the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, followed by the West Coast of North America. Then to Kyrgystan and Ethiopia in the fall and maybe to Madagascar. I'm excited to visit some new locations. My dream shot this year would be a humpback whale while Freediving in Madagascar.
Where can we find more of your work?