Justin Coomber: Seeking adventures in South Africa
Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist Justin Coomber cycled 2,400 kilometers through South Africa, where he currently lives, to gain more awareness for a cause that has a very personal meaning to him. He did this incredible trip all by himself and had to overcome more than one obstacle. He told us about his adventure and shows us some of his favorite photographs from private as well as assigned projects.
Tell us a little bit more about your journey, what was the goal?
Last year I completed my 37-day solo cycle through the whole of South Africa. Starting in Limpopo and ending in Cape Town, I covered 2,400km in total in order to raise funds and awareness for the Warrior on Wheels Foundation. When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis, a virus that attacks the nervous system and can cause inflammation on your spinal cord. Not only could I not physically handle the everyday-life activities, I also wasn't able to do what the rest of the kids could do, like participate in sports and be active outdoors. That's why I try to support the Warrior on Wheels Foundation. They aim to empower children with disabilities, enabling them with opportunities to be adventurous in nature. By completing this cycle - even with minor lasting nerve damage in certain parts of my body - I hope to inspire those children.
So how did the journey go? Were you nervous beforehand?
It was quite a challenge, I'm not a cyclist and I naively only trained for 1 day and a total of 32km the week prior. It definitely took me a few days to get into the swing of things and to become friends with my saddle. Unfortunately, after a week the tendons and ligaments in my right knee became very inflamed. That set me back a few days which I thankfully made up in due time. I would say the mental strength is just as vital. I had to learn how to stay motivated and positive when I had long days ahead of me. Having South Africa's landscapes around me and getting to capture it along the way definitely helped. That and the kind people I met on the journey. All in all, there is nothing as rewarding as coming out the other side of such a demanding expedition.
How did you feel when you finally crossed the finish line?
When I saw Table Mountain for the first time in over a month I might have shouted with joy. Those final 100 meters, seeing my friends at the finish line, along with a few kids from the Warrior on Wheels Foundation, were truly special. It concluded the end of a 2-year dream which felt amazing and sad all at once.
This trip and your story are super interesting, do you always try to take on photo projects with a meaning behind them?
Yeah, I think you add more value to a project if it has some sort of deeper background to it. The projects I like to do have some kind of story or narrative to back up the images, it adds layers to the complete story, making it more compelling and interesting, in my opinion.
What is one thing you learned from this once-in-a-lifetime trip?
So much, aside from the physical aspect and seeing that you are able to push so much more than you thought you were capable of. These mental and emotional obstacles that I had to overcome are what I really hold on to.
What equipment did you take with you?
Photographic equipment was the last thing on the list when it came to preparing for this trip. Once I had covered all my bases with the equipment I needed on the road, I looked at what space I had left and managed to fit in my camera and a lens or two (24-70mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4 and my 70-200 f2.8). In retrospect I could have left the 70-200mm one behind as I only used it once or twice and it added a lot of unnecessary weight. I also took a small tripod and a set of polarizing filters for some long exposures. A small solar charging panel and a power bank are a definite must as well!
Experience more of Justin's journey across South Africa on his blog!
How did your relationship with (adventure) photography begin?
I have always had a keen interest in photography but never thought it was something you could pursue as a career. Then, after taking a gap year as an outdoor adventure guide, I was looking at my passions and tried to find out how to make them into a possible career. That's when I discovered you could merge adventure/sports and photography in one thing and make a living out of it. I haven't looked back since.
What makes the "perfect" image to you?
When someone looks at an image and their first reaction is pure awe and they want to know more about the image. How, where, why or any questions like that, that's what I aim for. Ultimately, it should stir them and provoke some sort of emotion or thought.
Where do you find inspiration for your images?
As cliché as it sounds, but I find it everywhere. It can be from music, art, nature, sports or absolutely anything that I find intriguing.
Any dream projects you wish to accomplish in the future?
Absolutely, I have got a few in my mind and I'm sure there will be many more in the years to come. I am acutally working on my next expedition that I will hopefully reveal within the next few months.
Red Bull Illume Image Quest is back for even more of the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery. We’re ready to shine a light on all of your hard work and creativity in capturing the passion, lifestyle, and culture within the sports scene. The contest returns for its sixth edition after a record-breaking 2019 one with 59,551 entries. The Image Quest is here again and has 10 categories for you to enter on redbullillume.com and on Instagram from March 1 to July 31, 2021. We can guarantee that this edition is going to be full of breath-taking imagery and fresh perspectives.
There are 9 categories returning for the 2021 edition, which are: Masterpiece by SanDisk, Emerging, Energy by Red Bull Photography, Creative, Innovation by EyeEm, Playground, Lifestyle by COOPH, and RAW by Leica. Best of Instagram, which is now sponsored by Lenovo, is also back and has a few updates. The first is that content creators can submit still or moving image, which will be judged separately resulting in 2 Category Winners. One thing stays the same, and that’s that the people get the final say through community voting on our website.
This edition also introduces a brand-new category for people to enter called Photo Story. Sometimes there’s more to a scene than a single image can convey, so Red Bull Illume is giving creators the opportunity share their stories using a slideshow format, from 30 seconds up to 3 minutes. We’re excited to see the submissions, because this category opens up the contest to a whole new level of creativity.
There’s a category for every kind of adventure and action sports imagery creator and a bunch of reasons to take a shot at it and enter your work. The Category Winners and Overall Winner will each receive a beautiful trophy, as well as incredible prize packages from our partners worth more than €100,000! Some of the prizes include the latest products from global computing leader Lenovo, to empower even more creative self-expression; storage solutions from SanDisk to ensure you never lose a shot; as well as high-quality cameras from Leica and stylish photography apparel and accessories from COOPH.
Every Finalist earns their spot at the Winner Award Ceremony, taking place in November 2021. It’s the event that everyone gets excited about because they gain immense exposure and their work is shared with the world. It is also the release of the esteemed Red Bull Illume Limited Edition Photobook, a prize possession even during the digital age.
Want to know more about the categories for the Image Quest 2021? Head this way!
BRAND NEW: Photo Story, the multi-image category
The final category to be announced for 2021 is new to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest, giving people the opportunity to share a story that needs more than a single image. The submissions phase opens from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Red Bull Illume is constantly evolving and setting the benchmark in the adventure and action photography scene, which is why we’ve introduced a completely new category for the 2021 edition. Photo Story is the opportunity for you to tell the whole story, because sometimes one image just isn’t enough.
The Photo Story category is for your best adventure and action sports images displayed as a slideshow that is anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes in length. It’s about sharing the full picture with more than one image. The only requirement is that, like any story, the images all have to do with the chosen topic, for example: “The beauty of blue hour biking”. Of course, you can present your slideshow in an artistic way, because overlays, texts, video and transition effects are allowed. Same goes for music, as long as you own all rights, we want to hear the soundtrack to your Photo Story!
Have you already got a story in your head, a full day of adventure with a bunch of pictures to show for it? The Photo Story category is a whole new way for you to share your experiences in the adventure and action sports scene. Don’t wait, start shooting all those ideas buzzing around your mind and enter Red Bull Illume Image Quest! Submissions are open from March 01 to July 31, 2021, but be sure to stay tuned to redbullillume.com and our social media to stay up to date.
Red Bull Illume proudly announces partnership with Lenovo™
Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 teams up with global computing leader Lenovo to bring you the Best of Instagram by Lenovo category.
A new edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest means another round of the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery. It is also the perfect opportunity for new partnerships, like the latest one with global computing leader Lenovo. The company is an industry leader in innovative and smarter computing technology that enables a more inclusive and inspired world, so it’s fitting that they are presenting this year’s Best of Instagram category; the only one that opens up the competition to everyone through public voting.
The Best of Instagram by Lenovo category is expected to receive thousands upon thousands of entries from all around the world. Entrants can submit their content using their public Instagram profile and tagging @redbullillume and #rbi21submission. Creators will be able to enter still or moving images up to 60 seconds, which will be judged separately. The submissions will be judged every month, first by an internal Red Bull Illume jury who will select the top 5 still and 5 moving images. These will be put to a community vote on redbullillume.com resulting in 1 monthly winner for still and 1 for moving image. The monthly winners will automatically become official Red Bull Illume Finalists. In total there will be 5 still and 5 moving image finalists and out of these, the public will choose their favorites, who will be crowned as Best of Instagram by Lenovo Category Winners.
Lenovo’s shared dedication to transformative experiences and pushing boundaries with state-of-the-art technology is what makes them the ideal partner for Red Bull Illume. This kind of meaningful innovation is what allows creators to develop and enhance their concepts, evolving with new ideas that inspire, influence, and simply put, leave us speechless.
“Lenovo is proud to support the sixth edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest that brings together photographers and content creators whose bold work continually inspires us,” said Matt Bereda, Vice President of Global Consumer Marketing, PCs and Smart Devices, Lenovo. “We see many of our consumer PC, smart home, and tablet customers are passionate hobbyists. They enjoy photography and digital storytelling, and not all of them are paid professionals—they just love capturing and enhancing imagery to share with others and hang on their walls. If this new normal has taught us anything about our world and ourselves, it’s that we’re resilient, our technology is adaptable, and that making meaningful connections with others through shared creative pursuits are the bright spots in life that really matter.”
Over and above the grand title of being an official Red Bull Illume winner, they are also awarded with prize packages that include trophies and the latest Lenovo products to power even more creative self-expression. Their work will be included in the official Red Bull Illume photobook, be showcased during the Winner Award Ceremony planned for November 2021 and will gain worldwide exposure.
Another edition of Red Bull Illume is here and full of exciting new developments, so be sure to keep a look out for important dates and news on redbullillume.com and start shooting because submissions are open from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Get inventive for the Innovation by EyeEm category!
The next category to be announced calls for your most out-the-box imagery with EyeEm’s Innovation, open for submissions from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Red Bull Illume is all about celebrating those who aren’t afraid to think a little differently and boldly step away from the norm to find new ways of portray adventure and action sports. We’re proud to say that the Innovation category is back and is brought to you by EyeEm. It’s only fitting the platform that’s home to the most powerful creative imagery in the world empowers photographers with this one-of-a-kind Red Bull Illume category. EyeEm is a global marketplace for premium stock photography and professional photo & video productions. Their worldwide creative community allows any company to book high-quality photo and video productions anywhere in the world.
Innovation by EyeEm is specifically for images that reveal a totally new angle, a visual idea, a different format, or unconventional ways of using lighting, lenses, and, well, that’s really up to you! Show us a new perspective of adventure and actions sports imagery that reflects the spirit of innovation.
If you want to win this category you need to rethink how you shoot. We’re looking for techniques and visual ideas we’ve never seen before. This is innovation at its finest! The judges will select the images that are not only stunning, but approach adventure and action sports imagery in a new way.
So, start brainstorming and start shooting because submissions open from March 01 to July 31, 2021. Stay tuned to redbullillume.com and our social media channels for all the latest updates and category reveals.
The category for RAW images and pure perspectives is back in 2021!
The RAW category returns to showcase adventure and action sports straight out of the camera, calling for imagery that is not enhanced in any way for submission from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Introduced in 2019, the RAW category is all about taking it back to the fundamentals of photography, where planning the composition, lighting, and exposure are the basis of a good image. The greatest challenge with this category is ensuring that all of this has to be perfect before the shot. It’s for the purists at heart, for those who love the process.
RAW is for shots that are straight out of your camera, showing the real and original image. Everything is done in front of the lens, not on the screen. It is for imagery that doesn’t rely on editing or enhancements, it’s for the uncropped, untouched, and unchanged shots.
The images that are pure and untouched are the most difficult to achieve and therefore are the most rewarding. Perhaps you’re already a master of the unedited, or you’re ready to try a more difficult style with your adventure and action sports photography; the RAW category is the one for you.
Is this the category calling out to you? Remember to start shooting because submissions open soon, from March 01 to July 31, 2021. And even if this isn’t the one you’re feeling, stay tuned to redbullillume.com and follow us on social media because there are 10 categories in total for you to choose from, with more being announced soon!
Playground is for the environments inspiring every move
The category dedicated to the places you capture the action returns for Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. Submit your awe-inspiring imagery from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Where do you go when you’re looking for an unforgettable experience? The Playground category is back for another edition of crazy landscapes, grungy back alleys, and secret spots; because the biggest part of any adventure is where all the action takes place.
Playground is for imagery that showcases the landscapes, locations, platforms in which athletes play. It’s specifically for the epic imagery that showcases the setting which influences the athletes’ every move.
“In my photos I aim to share the beauty and vastness of nature. I seek a lot of inspiration from the landscape and terrain I am in and am always searching for ways and compositions to combine the human element.” – Guy Fattal, Semi-finalist 2019
The world is full of stunning scenery and every edition this category illuminates a whole range of never-seen-before imagery. This can be anything from an unbelievable place hidden between the hills to just finding a new way to look at the same place you visit every day. Playground category is about the athlete and their environment.
“I love to capture an athlete's interaction with the landscape. These incredible landscapes are what drew me to photography as a medium, and continue to inspire me for new adventures.” – Steve Shannon, Semi-finalist 2019
Share your perspective and show us where you play. The very essence of adventure and action sports creation is looking for new places to perform, capture, and explore. We want to see your spectacular imagery, so make sure you enter as submissions for Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 are open from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Playground is only one of the 10 categories and definitely not the last to be revealed before submissions open. So, keep your eyes open for all of the updates and announcements on redbullillume.com and on our social channels.
The pinnacle of expression returns in the Masterpiece by SanDisk category
Masterpiece by SanDisk is back for Red Bull Illume Image Quest, inviting content creators to submit their unique styles from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
One of the most amazing things about Red Bull Illume Image Quest is that it allows people to truly express their ideas, giving creators the opportunity to share their works of art with a global audience. Creating imagery using outstanding artistry and skill is what the Masterpiece by SanDisk category is all about. It is truly the height of self-expression.
Joining as a partner for yet another edition is the digital storage specialist, SanDisk. A name recognized by content creators everywhere for setting the gold standard, both on the set and out on the field. Their products help make creating possible, which is why we’re excited to have them on board for another edition.
The Masterpiece by SanDisk category is for imagery that illuminates your artistic skill, your personal best, your unique style. We are looking for your best shot. The category blurs the line between fine art and photography. It calls for an image that represents the creativity of adventure and action sports. This isn’t just about the trick, but rather how the moment is transformed into a work of art.
Multi-time winner, Lorenz Holder, has become king of the Masterpiece category, winning in both 2016 and 2019. He’s perfected the skill of making images that stand out and gives us a little piece of advice on what to enter for the category:
“The Red Bull Illume Image Quest is undoubtedly the biggest action sports photography competition in the world. As an action sports photographer it’s such a good opportunity to see where I stand and what kind of images really catch people… For me, the Masterpiece category is a bit like the holy grail within Red Bull Illume. The images need to have a certain ‘WOW-factor’ and just blow you away when you see them. Anything goes there, but it just has to be stunning.” - Lorenz Holder
Show the world your unique skill by entering the Masterpiece by SanDisk category. Submissions open from March 01 to July 31, 2021, so don’t wait! Keep an eye out because the next category will be announced in a couple of days on redbullillume.com.
The Emerging category is ready for the next generation
Solely reserved for rising talent, the Emerging category is once again open for submissions from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Three categories have already been announced, bringing us to the fourth one for the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 edition. This one is reserved for the youngsters, for the newbies, for the fresh talent, basically for anyone 25 years or younger. This is the Emerging category and it's back for its second edition!
The Emerging category is about finding new angles from those with a fresh approach to adventure and action sports imagery. It is for the up-and-coming rising talents, giving you the opportunity to get a foot up and compete at the same level as the pros. Anyone from the age of 25 and under can enter, so go on, show us your greatest capture!
Show the world your creativity and it could change the way you create. All Red Bull Illume Finalists will have their work on display around the globe, and along with great prizes, you get to become part of Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021. Submissions are open from March 01 to July 31, 2021.
Start shooting now and don’t forget to check out the other categories we’re announcing over the next few days. Make a big red circle to start submitting from March 01 to July 2021, and stay tuned to redbullillume.com and our social media channels for all the latest news and announcements!
Don't hold back! Anything is possible with the Creative category
The next category to return for Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 is Creative, the only one where anything goes. Submit from March 01 to July 31, 2021, to show us your best imagery.
The only category with no limits is back and ready for even more mind-blowing creativity, are you? The Creative category makes a comeback for the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021, giving creators the opportunity to push the boundaries with beautiful edits.
This is for images that have been enhanced, either digitally or in the darkroom, through alterations made during the production or editing process. The category is open and that means anything goes, Creative celebrates the most inventive, extraordinary, and surreal image edits in adventure and action sports imagery in the world.
Previous creations have included photo manipulation, illustration, and even merging various images together. Check out some of the work from previous editions for more inspiration, like this one from semi-finalist, David Jaramillo Ramírez, who said: “Mixing both the photo and the illustration, we were able to give life to the concept and transmit aesthetic with strength, all coexisting in one shot.”
Have you got ideas waiting to come to life? Make sure you start shooting because submissions open from March 01 to July 31, 2021. There are more categories to be announced soon, so stay tuned for all the latest news and announcements.
Get ready for the next category - Energy by Red Bull Photography
The second category reappearing for the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery contest in 2021 is Energy by Red Bull Photography. The second of ten categories to be announced before submissions open on March 01 till July 31, 2021.
It’s official, the second category returning for another edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest is the Energy by Red Bull Photography category. This category is for imagery that demonstrates the real power behind every action; the energy, speed, and strength required for the athlete to perform. It’s about showing us the driving force of the athlete and their environment. These are images that you can feel. The category is sponsored by Red Bull Photography, who stand for authentic imagery that captures the lifestyle, culture, and landscapes the athletes put all their energy into.
When you capture the real energy of a moment, whether it’s the second before the move or the ecstatic jump for joy, it evokes something in the viewer. The Category Winner from 2019, Ben Thouard took a photo that was so powerful it also claimed the title of Overall Winner. He also submitted another, very strong image that captures the spirit of this category perfectly. Explaining how, "The leash being under tension, the position of the surfer, the explosion of the wave behind, this is something I’ve been looking for a long time while shooting underwater these last years and I’m happy to have captured it for the Energy Category!"
“I love to challenge or shoot images no one would even think about. The feeling, when all my energy and power focuses to ONE shot and connecting with the athlete is just beyond words.” - Satoshi Saijo, Semi-Finalist 2019
There are now 2 categories to get your creativity going: Lifestyle by COOPH and Energy by Red Bull Photography. The next category is going to be announced soon, on February 09, 2021, so make sure you remember to check it out! Submissions for the contest are free and open from March 01 to July 31, 2021.