One is a former overall winner of Red Bull Illume who is followed by millions. Another is an adventure legend whose climbing and paragliding exploits over the past two decades have broken records and new ground. Another is the photo editor of one of the world’s leading newspaper magazines.
The judges for this year’s Red Bull Illume include some of the biggest names in adventure and action sport photography. Traditionally, judges have always been editors at prominent magazines and publications in the fields of photography, sports and news. But this year organizers have decided to widen the criteria to include former winners and athletes.
Among them is Chris Burkard, the overall winner from 2010. He says he’s thrilled to be a judge this year. “For me, this contest changed my life and career, just being celebrated as a photographer was mind-blowing.”
Keen to know how to impress him? “As a judge, I'm looking for images that depict how the human experience blends with these wild natural environments we get to play in. I'm also hyped to see creativity pushed to its limits and can't wait to see what people bring to the table!” he says.
Enter this year’s contest and you could find your images being judged by another former winner, Fred Mortagne, aka @frenchfred, who has also come on board. In 2007 he won the first ever Red Bull Illume and is known for his beautiful and surreal black and white shots of skateboarders that perfectly blend architecture and action sports.
Another judge to confirm their participation is adventure legend Will Gadd, who has been pushing the limits of climbing and paragliding for over two decades. He has also featured in Red Bull Illume previously as an athlete in work submitted by photographers Christian Pondella and Klaus Fengler.
He says it’s important to give photographers some love: “Without photography my world is invisible, and I can’t have the career I’ve had. It’s that simple: I don’t have a job without the pro photographers I work with.”
He says that he’s looking forward to being a judge. “It’s an honor to look at other people’s work, and while I can’t promise I’ll see it the same way you do, I know you sent your best stuff in, and I respect the hell out of that.”
As for how to impress, Gadd says it’s important an image holds his attention. “I love images that amaze me, rock me back on my heels and make me forget about anything else for that moment. The second is that the photo holds my attention in a process of discovery. Maybe a shot with some wild sports action, but also a facial expression that says more about the situation than just the wave or rock or sky alone. Whether it’s paragliding or paddling or climbing or biking, shots that I want to be in! Where I can say, ‘Damn, I wish I were there!’”
Other confirmed judges include Russ O’Connell, picture editor at the UK’s Sunday Times Magazine, Laura Stanley from Pexels (Canada), Sean Doherty from Surfing World Magazine (Australia), Angelika Hala, photo editor at STERN, editor-in-chief at 30° Degrés Magazine Christian Bugnon, Theo Acworth from Method Mag (UK), Calle Rosenqvist from Kamera & Bild (Sweden) and Andrea Estevam, content director for Rocky Mountain Sports Content (Brazil).
“What I love most and what I think truly makes great adventure and action sports imagery is something that gives you pause, or that instant roller-coaster stomach-drop feeling. Seeing a human go up against the world's most unpredictable elements shows us how strong we really are,” says Laura Stanley.
The international judging panel consists of around 50 renowned photo editors and photo experts who will base their decisions on a mix of composition, technical superiority, creativity, impact, artistic flair, and the overall qualities of photographic excellence within that image’s category. Voting takes place in three rounds; first the finalists are chosen, then the category winners, and finally, the overall winner is selected.
To get your images in front of this year’s judges, you know what to do – head over to redbullillume.com/submission and start uploading!