One month to go

Only 30 days left to enter the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery contest and to win prestige, global recognition and prizes.

 

Chris Burkard Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2010

© Chris Burkard / Red Bull Illume

The countdown to Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 has begun, as the end of the submissions phase nears. There’s just one month left for photographers and videographers to enter their best adventure and action sports imagery to win prestige, global recognition, prizes valued at over €200,000 and the chance to have their imagery published all around the world!

The deadline reminder comes as we reveal some of the judges who have agreed to help select the winners. They include Russ O’Connell, picture editor at the UK’s prestigious Sunday Times Magazine. We will also have 2010 Overall Winner, Chris Burkard, confirmed as a judge as well as the legendary, Fred Mortagne, the first ever Overall Winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest.

"For me, this contest changed my life and career, just being celebrated as a photographer was mind-blowing. 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!" Chris Burkard says.

Joining them in selecting the world’s greatest adventure and action sports imagery on the 2021 judging panel is Laura Stanley from Pexels (Canada), Sean Doherty from Surfing World Magazine (Australia), Angelika Hala, photo editor at STERN (Germany), editor-in-chief at 30° Degrés Magazine Christian Bugnon (Switzerland), 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.” Laura Stanley explains.

The international judging panel consists of 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.

The winners will receive incredible gear like the premium Lenovo™ Yoga™ 9i laptop, pro-grade workflow bundles from SanDisk Professional™, state-of-the-art cameras from Leica, a dream photoshoot from Black Diamond, and of course the most invaluable prize: A ton of worldwide exposure for their work and joining the Red Bull Illume community as an official winner.

Entering is easier than ever: Just enter your photos here and for the Best of Instagram by Lenovo category you simply need to share your photos and videos up to 1min on Instagram and tag @redbullillume and #rbi21submission.

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 is a one-of-a-kind opportunity and winning is guaranteed to transform any photographer’s life, whether amateur or professional. Submissions close on July 31, 2021, at 00:00 (CEST) which means there’s one month to go out there and get creative. So, go on and take a shot at winning!

Submit now!

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! 

rbil photobook 2021 01

Will Saunders crowned overall winner for astounding image

U.S. photographer becomes the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021 Overall Winner with his shot of a falling climber.

mas21 0722162133661 1601 web

© Will Saunders / Red Bull Illume

After months of anticipation, the wait is finally over – this year’s Red Bull Illume Overall Winner is revealed and it goes to Will Saunders for his shot of climber Jake Talley striking a pose as he takes a lead fall on a spectacular rock tower in Indian Creek, Utah. The image was voted overall winner by a panel of 53 judges from around the world. 

Saunders was handed the overall winner trophy at a ceremony in Aspen Snowmass, CO, USA, as the resort officially opened the first tour stop of the Red Bull Illume Exhibition. He said it was a great honor to receive the award. 

“I’m just super grateful, I never thought I would be here. But it really is a team effort, it takes so much more than an individual.”

Ulrich Grill, founder of Red Bull Illume said: “I offer my sincere congratulations to Will for his outstanding image. It’s a great shot and a worthy winner to take the Red Bull Illume crown, joining many other iconic shots that have won in the past. This year we saw an unbelievable display of talent from adventure and action sports photographers from around the world – 41,447 images were submitted. To select the finalists, category winners and overall winner has been a tough choice. There were so many creative, unique and technically brilliant images this edition. Of course, I would also like to thank all the partners who make this event happen.”

Saunders wins a selection of prizes worth €50,000 including a Lenovo 9iPC, a Leica SL2 camera, a workflow bundle from SanDisk Professional, and gear from Black Diamond and COOPH. In addition, he will receive a printed and framed copy of his winning image from WhiteWall.

Saunders’s winning shot was already the category winner in the Masterpiece by SanDisk Professional category. It shows Jake Talley mid fall while climbing. Saunders explains the story behind the shot: “I've shot many whippers but this time I wanted to try something a little different. A group of us rallied out to my favorite place in the desert to get some climbing in and make some imagery along the way. I asked Jake to really shape his body into more of a powerful movement rather than the classic falling position. With grace and style, Jake pulled this shape out of the air, allowing me to capture an image that is unique compared to most of the literal climbing imagery we see.” 
 
He adds: “His body reminded me of a superhero, which is fitting to me because most of my friends in this action sports world are my heroes. The ticket here was to just push the conceptual idea enough while also grounding the image in reality.”
 
With the contest officially over, Red Bull Illume now hits the road as a unique global exhibit tour, kicking off with a stop in Aspen Snowmass, CO, USA, until January 2, 2022. 
Stay tuned for the latest updates on the European tour, and to see all the category winner shots, head over here.

Energy by Red Bull Photography Winner

Rod Hill (New Zealand) wins the Energy by Red Bull Photography category for his shot of a kayaker.

ene21 0619081444806 265 web

© Rod Hill / Red Bull Illume

Rod Hill’s image of kayaker River Mutton bursting through a rapid at Huka Falls, New Zealand, was voted the category winner by the panel of Red Bull Illume judges amid strong competition.

It’s a magical moment for the photographer. “This shot was not supposed to happen,” he says. “River Mutton was supposed to leave for work but decided on one last run. I had already packed my gear away by the time they walked back up from the take-out point. 
Once they decided being late to work was worth it, it was a mad rush back down the river with my camera. I didn't have time to get to my normal spot, so instead I tried this angle. All of a sudden, the light popped like I had never seen before. Straight away I knew this was going to work.”

It is the first time the amateur photographer, a chemistry teacher from Rotorua, has been selected in Red Bull Illume and will be a huge honor. Hill has been passionate about photography for many years on his skiing, surfing and climbing adventures and expeditions. 

The four other finalists in the category are: Stephan Gruber, for his unique angled shot of a skateboarder, Silvano Marino Zeiter for his POV motion blur of a skier, Dan Krauss for his photo of a climber sticking a dyno and Matt Power for his underwater shot of an unknown surfer against a setting sun. 

If you missed this announcement and want to see Rod’s first reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Innovation by EyeEm Winner

Thomas Monsorno (Italy) wins the Innovation by EyeEm category for his shot of a climber on ice.

inn21 0713163031619 3941 web

© Thomas Monsorno / Red Bull Illume

Innovation is the category for images that reveal a unique angle, a visual idea, a different format… something never seen before!

The category winner this year certainly lives up to that criteria. It goes to Thomas Monsorno, for his unique aerial shot looking down on athlete Dani Arnold ’climbing’ frozen Lake Baikal. A line of orange rope trailing from Arnold contrasts beautifully with the ice’s vertical cracks to create a beguiling image. 

“In February 2020 we traveled to Siberia with Arnold for a challenging expedition above the deepest lake on earth, Lake Baikal,” recalls Monsorno. “Siberian winters present difficult and fascinating conditions. At this time of year, conditions are extreme, with temperatures as low as -35° Celsius. The first steps on the ice of the lake were impressive – to see clearly through the thick ice of the deepest lake in the world was an extraordinary and absolutely unforgettable experience.”

Monsorno, who is based in South Tyrol, describes his work as a ‘collection of sports, documentary, lifestyle, and travel photography’.

The other finalists in the Innovation by EyeEm category were Alexey Shabanov, for his drone shot of a mountain biker riding sand dunes, Dean Treml for his black and white image of a diver in Baku, Sergey Shakuto for his night-time long exposure of a paramotor and Kevin Molano for a photo of a skateboarder in Colombia reflected in a puddle. 

If you missed this announcement and want to see Thomas’ first reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Best Mountain Photo by Black Diamond

raw21 0731175204602 1136 web

The U.S. photographer Colin Wiseman has won the award for Best Mountain Photo by Black Diamond, for his shot of Eric Jackson snowboarding in Alaska. Best Mountain Photo is awarded by Black Diamond and it was announced by Will Gadd during the Instagram Live on December 2, you can rewatch it here.

Wiseman’s winning image captures Jackson riding a wild line in Valdez, Alaska. He picks up the story of how he got the shot: “A heavy crew including riders Austen Sweetin, Robin Van Gyn, Jamie Anderson and Eric Jackson arrived in Valdez, in early April of 2021 with high hopes. But just before we got there, a windstorm hammered the Chugach Mountains, making it difficult to find good snow in steeper terrain. With the help of guides Justin Befu and Travis Elquist, we were able to tap into a couple protected zones on our first fly day, including this late afternoon spot.”

Wiseman, an outdoor photographer based in Bellingham, Washington State, wins a sizeable product haul from Black Diamond worth $5,000. He says, "Winning Best Mountain Photo by Black Diamond is such a surprise. I’m excited, humbled, and thrilled. Thank you. Red Bull Illume is the pinnacle of actionsports photography and it’s such an honor to win this prize. A bit of a dream come true, honestly. A huge thank you to E-Jack and the whole crew up in Alaska who made this moment happen. It’s always a group effort in our line of work."

Creative by Skylum Winner

Jan Kasl (Czech Republic) wins the Creative by Skylum category for his surreal shot of a skater inside a spiral.

cre21 0730140105119 3446 web

© Jan Kasl / Red Bull Illume

Kasl explains how he created the shot: “The idea snuck into my mind as a side effect from a campaign I produced based on an optical illusion called ‘forced perspective’. It sounds like a pretty sophisticated technique, but it’s basically exactly what thousands of tourists do when holding the leaning Tower of Pisa, hoping to get a unique photo of their holiday in Italy. 

“It’s very similar for most adventure and action sports photographers,” he adds. “It doesn’t really matter if we’re on vacation, on a shoot, or just going on a random walk through the city – our imagination recreates interesting pieces of architecture into an action sports playground. With a tool like forced perspective, I felt like I could push it a little further, bending reality and bringing the athlete into an absolutely surreal environment.”

The other category finalists were Luis Alejandro Arriaga Osorio, for his photo of a skateboarder superimposed above a building in Mexico City, Marc Daviet for his nighttime image of a frozen bivouac, Nejc Ferjan for his black and white drone shot of a kayaker and Chris Garrison for an image featuring BMX rider Broc Raiford inside a hexagonal garage. 

If you missed this announcement and want to see Jan’s first reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Emerging by Black Diamond Winner

Victoria Kohner-Flanagan (USA) wins the Emerging by Black Diamond category for her strong shot of a resting climber.

eme21 0722000132681 23252 web

© Victoria Kohner-Flanagan / Red Bull Illume

Emerging by Black Diamond is the category for up and coming photographers under the age of 25. This year saw an incredible number of inspiring images submitted. But only one photographer can take the category winner crown – and that is Victoria Kohner-Flanagan.

She stunned the jury with her image of climber Jack Nugent stretching out his arms behind his back on a virtually featureless wall of blank rock. 

She explains how she got the shot: “My friends and I spent the winter of 2021 living communally in an assortment of vans and cars amidst the Buttermilk’s monstrous granite boulders in Bishop, California. Our days looked like this: wake up, drink coffee, go climb. Jack grew eager to test his fitness on ‘Queen of Heartbreaks’ in Pine Creek Canyon. Before tying into the sharp end he was clearly nervous. 

“From the ground, the route’s 39 meters were daunting and blank. The holds remained obscured to me even as I ascended the fixed line to find the best position to shoot from. Questing up the blank face, Jack found a cheeky no hands rest. Doubt cleared from his face as I snapped the shot.”

The three other finalists were Caleb Ely for his shot of a mountain biker in a misty forest, Monica Dinh for her image of a surfer shooting into the air and Cody Hammer for his shot of a winter surfer inside a barrel.

If you missed this announcement and want to see Victoria’s first reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Masterpiece by SanDisk Professional Winner

Will Saunders (USA) wins the Masterpiece by SanDisk Professional category for his shot of a climber taking a fall in Utah.

mas21 0722162133661 1601 web

© Will Saunders / Red Bull Illume

Masterpiece is the category where photographers give us their best shot. This year, there were no shortage of contenders but after the judges’ votes were counted – it goes to Will Saunders. The American photographer wins the Masterpiece by SanDisk Professional category with his shot of climber Jake Talley striking a pose as he takes a lead fall on a spectacular rock tower in Indian Creek, Utah. 
Saunders tells the story behind the image. “I've shot many whippers but this time I wanted to try something a little different. A group of us rallied out to my favorite place in the desert to get some climbing in and make some imagery along the way. I asked Jake to really shape his body into more of a powerful movement rather than the classic falling position. With grace and style, Jake pulled this shape out of the air, allowing me to capture an image that is unique compared to most of the literal climbing imagery we see.” 

He adds: “His body reminded me of a superhero, which is fitting to me because most of my friends in this action sports world are my heroes. The ticket here was to just push the conceptual idea enough while also grounding the image in reality.”

The other category finalists were Rein Rijke for his drone shot of a kitesurfer negotiating bergs in Iceland, Petr Polách for his image of a diver in the caves of Yucatan, Gerald Situ for a shot of a highliner midway across the Great Arch of Getu, China and Karim Iliya for his shot of an ‘aquanaut’ standing on an underwater ledge. As the winner of the Great Outdoors category of the EyeEm Awards, Song Gang becomes an additional finalist for his shot of a freediver and manta ray. 

If you missed this announcement and want to see Will’s reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Lifestyle by COOPH Winner

Carolin Unrath (Germany) wins the Lifestyle by COOPH category for her shot of an urban surfer.

lif21 0801182104229 27148 web

© Carolin Unrath / Red Bull Illume

The Lifestyle category is one that always produces some of the most imaginative and varied shots in Red Bull Illume, and this year’s edition proves no exception.

The category winner is Carolin Unrath’s black and white shot of a surfer about to board a train in Munich. 

“The shot ‘Surfmask’ is part of a series I created with Peter Scherb in Munich in May 2020,” she says. “I’ve always loved seeing Munich's Eisbach river wave surfers all over the city. That's why we joined Andi Müllner on one of his first sessions when the river wave reopened after lockdown in 2020. The shot shows him on his way to the Eisbach.” 

The photographer is a freelancer based in the southern German city.  “I started as a musician, taking pictures on international concert tours, and used photography as a medium of art to make my memories tangible. This passion continued to consolidate through my fine arts and multimedia studies in Munich.” 

She adds: “The artist's world is limitless. I love to fill up and create a room of energy, emotions, moments, and discovery, leave enough space for someone else to get there, show people around and let them dive deeper into different worlds they've never been to before.”

The other category finalists were Mark Mackay’s shot of naked mountain bikers in Squamish, Canada,  Roman Neimann’s image of BMX riders exploring an Estonian ‘jungle’, Nicolas Jacquemin’s photo of a family of surfers in the Philippines and an incredible night shot of a hiker watching a comet in Yosemite, USA by Priscilla Mewborne

If you missed this announcement and want to see Carolin’s reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Playground by WhiteWall Winner

Markus Berger (Austria) wins the Playground by WhiteWall category for his shot of a wake boarder in action inside a glacier.

pla21 0731150425303 26738 web

© Markus Berger / Red Bull Illume

The Playground by WhiteWall category is all about celebrating some of the incredible locations and environments where athletes get to play. Few are quite so remarkable or hostile as the glacier ice cave where photographer Markus Berger struggled to capture Dominik Hernler in action, riding a meltwater stream inside the Hintertux glacier. He got the shot, and it has become the winner of the Playground by WhiteWall category. 

But it could easily have gone the other way, Berger explains. Such was the cold and the wet conditions, he battled to keep his cameras – and himself – alive and functioning. 

‘It was a crazy location,” he recalls. “In terms of photography, this was an extreme challenge, as we were facing intense cold, moisture and also very cold water. After more than three hours in the water I didn't feel anything below my waist and one of my cameras failed as well. When Dominik finally arrived and pulled the action it was also a matter of luck if I got the camera to trigger at the right moment. It was such a relief to see the image pop up on my screen and get the shot. Right after this shot the camera shut down and didn't work for three days until it dried up completely!”

The other category finalists were Federico Ravassard for his shot of a Marzio Nardi climbing marble quarries in Italy, Andreas Busslinger for his shot of paragliders above a frozen lake, Bruno Long’s unique image of a ski tourers on a glacier and Ebrahim Adam, for a shot he captured inside a production facility for prefabricated homes in Singapore. 

If you missed this announcement and want to see Markus’ reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.

Photo Story Winner

Philipp Klein Herrero (Spain) wins the Photo Story category for his creative stop-motion lockdown story.

pho21 0801102827882 26932 thumbnail title

© Philipp Klein Herrero / Red Bull Illume

Covid lockdown was the inspiration for many creative ideas, as photographers sought imaginative ways to fill the long hours of boredom behind closed doors.

For Spanish photographer Philipp Klein Herrero, it gave birth to a unique idea, to somehow capture a day in the mountains, at home. The result is the winner of this year’s Photo Story category.

He explains the concept behind the home shoot: “I was sick of the sad news on TV and wanted to spread out a positive message to cheer up my family and friends, who I couldn’t visit at the time. A few days later, the idea of creating a stop-motion, skiing on the floor of my living room, came to my mind. It seemed brilliant; it was funny, cheerful, simple and with the right message – stay positive, stay home.”

But could it work? “I spent a few days getting the story right, figuring out if it was even possible. (How do you make a mountain out of bed sheets?) Finally, I taped my GoPro to the ceiling, put on ski gear and started shooting, one shot at a time. Once posted, it went viral in a matter of hours, something I never expected but showed me how much the world needed something positive.”

The other category finalists were Satchel Cronk for his series riding in a burnt-out forest, Maxime Ramoul for his black and white film shots, Adi Geisegger for a light-painting shoot with paragliders and Silvano Marino Zeiter for his nighttime snowboarding shoot.

If you missed this announcement and want to see Philipp’s reaction then you can rewatch it on our Instagram channel.

The overall winner will be announced on Saturday, December 4 during the Red Bull Illume Exhibition in Aspen Snowmass, CO, USA. Stay tuned to our channels for the latest updates.