Red Bull Illume winner interviews: Miguel Lopez

Interview with Miguel Lopez

After winning the SanDisk Sequence award at Red Bull Illume, Miguel Angel Lopez had three words to say – “Viva la Mexico!” Even his t-shirt said the same. Although Miguel didn’t say much else that night in English and had fellow South American Orlando Duque translate from Spanish for him on stage, it reminded everyone how international Red Bull Illume is. But a Mexican winner was an awesome surprise nonetheless.

Just look at the map on the Red Bull Illume gallery. The west coast of the US, northern Europe and South Western Australia dominates the action sports world. Rightly, they have some amazing mountain or coastal locations for high-risk outdoor sports or massive metropolitan cities with every scene imaginable – skate, BMX, B-Boying etc. But there are many other undiscovered and less photographed places elsewhere. Look at the winning photo from Chris Burkard, who remembers the last surf photo they saw from Chile?

Likewise, Miguel’s win was a breath of fresh air. Even more so for the SanDisk sequence category, which was supremely technical and competitive. However, the winning photo was an elegantly simple shot, even the trick wasn’t complicated. The photo captured the moment, while the sequence of shadows in the background showed how the move was done which is why sequence shots became so popular in the first place. By being selective and not including too much detail in the photo, which some sequence shots are guilty of, Miguel’s photo elevated the sequence shot into art territory. Ever heard the advice “Keep it simple, stupid”? Well Miguel kept it simple and beautiful at the same time and managed to get an iconic skate image.
(Have a look at the 'Making Of' video in our last feature to see how the shot was taken.)

Working as a photographer for eight years and a director of Urbeskate.com, as well as a Red Bull Illume semi-finalist in 2007, Miguel didn’t come from nowhere however. Read on to find out more about the man behind the lens.

What reception have you received since winning your category in Red Bull Illume?
Well in Mexico, the reaction from my friends, family and people in general has been amazing. Until I came back with the trophy, the book, the magazines that I brought from Dublin, no one knew the magnitude of the event. My parents are very proud that I won. Before, they never really understood my work as a skate photographer and why I was putting so much effort and passion into it. But after seeing everything that’s happened since, they are really happy with me. And everyone is proud that my photo was able to represent Mexico. The Red Bull team in Mexico were really happy for me too. I have worked with them over the years helping to make skateboarding events in Mexico.

In January 2011, together with other photographers, I was present at a gallery in the city of Puebla, Mexico. They showed the pictures I submitted to Red Bull Illume. It was a pleasure to be exhibited. I was treated really well, people took pictures of me, kids asked me for autographs, and some new photographers approached me to say that I am an inspiration for them. Overall, I was so proud to represent Mexico in the contest.

What difference has winning made to your photography career?
Personally I'm still the same photographer with the same idea to keep doing things in action sports photography and more in skateboarding because it’s what I enjoy doing. Professionally, it’s helping my career because Red Bull Illume is the only major event dedicated to action sports photography.

A friend jokingly said to me, “Finally your skateboard photography leaves something in your life” because many people know me for other things within the Mexico skateboarding scene. Apart from being a photographer, I’m the director of Urbeskate and an event organizer. I try to help this sport grow in my country as good as possible and winning Red Bull Illume has helped me to open some more doors.

What’s inspiring you right now as a photographer?
Inspiration! Or as I said in an interview in Dublin, I realize that everything is possible and this event gave me the opportunity to show my work. I'm inspired to improve my photography so winning Red Bull Illume gave me the opportunity for further improvement. I want to do my best during these years and then, if all goes well, retire with a smile of accomplishment.

The funny thing is that I was in the first Red Bull Illume in 2007 and I was in the semi-finals with a photo but I didn’t get any further. I entered the second contest with more enthusiasm and was more optimistic about doing better. Then I won the SanDisk sequence category. Were my photos better or did I just have more enthusiasm for making things happen? What I know is that if you work every day with heart and energy, you will get good results and new opportunities or second chance can always happen. Red Bull Illume has inspired me to believe and keep doing what I like, no matter what happens.


What new photography equipment and techniques are you using or want to use more of?
You can use any equipment really. Your eyes and your mind is what makes the difference. I have not changed my equipment much. I want to buy a new digital camera, but I will shoot on 35mm until I due. I like the Holga and am starting to work on more video shoots, like this one.

My techniques have also been improving. I always want to improve how I use light, colors and need time to experiment. But it’s hard as my work as a photo editor and director for Urbe Skate consumes me but I have to keep up with new developments. It was amazing to see other professional skateboard photographers that I admire so much in the Red Bull Illume photobook. It made me realize that myself and others are doing a good job in the Mexican skateboarding scene.

What interesting shoots or projects do you have coming up?
I want to make an exhibition next year with friends. I wish we could bring the Red Bull Illume exhibit to Mexico in 2011 but who knows! Still it was cool that there was the tour in Houston, Texas, which was just across the border.

In January, we had the urbeskate.com and we had our own awards, including a best skateboard photographer award. Otherwise I have so much to organize, so 2011 will be a busy year! I’m also hoping to finally have my own website, so I can show eight years of work as a photographer!

What must a photographer keep in mind while shooting an action scene?

The location, angle and equipment. The location is important because to photograph a trick, you have to show the difficulty of the trick and beauty of the place, so anyone will just see the photo and say “wow!” and be amazed.

The angle is an important factor because not all tricks require the same angle. Every trick has its aesthetic.

As for the equipment, you need to know what options your equipment gives you and you need to maximize the technical possibilities using your imagination.

How important is location in sports photography?
Location is as important as in the trick, so it’s 50:50. I sometimes I don’t take photos of some tricks for a particular location, as it just doesn’t fit. Of course there are also occasions that the trick is so difficult that you have the challenge of showing the difficulty and the beauty of the place.

Every day we seek new places to photograph which is so important. The street offers unimaginable places. Definitely the place you will provide the other 50% to your picture.

What are some of the challenges you face while doing action photography? How do you overcome them?
Well in my case there are many. The very common one is that the picture is not taken at the exact moment of the trick and you’ve missed it. Sometimes the trick is so hard you can’t expect the person to retry it. Or they re-do the trick over and over without any luck, then the light changes while you’re waiting. Sometimes you have to just cancel a shoot or forget an idea. You have to know your and the athlete’s capabilities.

Technical issues are normal - empty batteries, your camera fails, your fisheye won’t stay on properly. Stuff happens!

How do you define the 'perfect frame' in sports photography?
Good photos have three critical aspects: difficulty, place and the person being photographed. Obviously, a perfect frame has to amaze you in all three. But I think the perfect frame is the one which shows how exciting that sport is. It’s a moment when you know that as soon as you press the shutter, you feel you have to see that picture.

How do you prepare for action photography, physically and mentally?
Well I have nothing in particular. I just check my equipment is ready and in my mind I just think I have to try to do my best. If you’re shooting a well-known athlete, you have to think that you deserve to shoot someone that good. But I try to enjoy the moment, especially when I’m working with friends.

If you had just 5 pieces of your most important advice for a young action photographer, what would they be?

I have only one:
When taking a picture
Feel the photo. Live the photograph.

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How to create 'Unseen' imagery with stop motion artist Victor Haegelin

You think you've seen everything, but then this one piece of content shows up and leaves you with nothing but 'How did the artist do it?'. French stop motion artist Victor Haegelin aka. 'Patagraph' is one of those artists that amazes us with his masterpieces. Soak in his perfect examples for the Special Image Quest category 'Unseen'!

Category Unseen submission by Victor Haegelin

In a world where it seems everything has been done already, what does “unseen” mean for you?
Wow! … This is where you can mix something technical and simple with some cool ideas.

Sometimes it’s really the simplest ideas that are actually unseen. Like this very, very simple water silhouette animation made by Kevin Parry few days ago. It is SO simple!! The idea, the technique, the realisation, all is simple, but all together it has definitely never been seen before.

How would you describe yourself as a creative?
I like to find unexpected simple ideas. Usually it comes from the everyday life surrounding us. I love to give life to still stuff. I think of imagination as a muscle, if you train it, ideas will come naturally. Even if they are not always the best. 

How did you become a stop motion artist?
By doing stop motion! Stop motion is a good way to start telling stories. It’s easy to set up on a corner of a table. You can start to make cool stuff with almost nothing. It’s easier than building up a full cinema crew with actors, DOP and stuff. So that’s what I did, what I liked and that’s why I kept doing it.

Talk us through the process of creating your short clips – where does your inspiration come from?
When I have a new idea, I really have to go for it. I can’t stop thinking about it, until I get to shoot it. And sometimes - the moment I’m facing the project - it becomes harder than expected…

 

Are you operating alone?
I usually have my creative process alone. But I also work with Coco Di Bongo, a model maker. When I have a new assignment, I would talk to her and involve her in the creative process.

How long does one project usually take from beginning to end?
It really, really depends on the complexity of the project. I like to work on fire, keeping the idea in mind till I do it, otherwise the idea loses its fascination… in case I wrote it down, it sometimes comes back! Usually we say that 1 second of stop motion takes about an hour to shoot. This is approximately true.

Who/ what are your biggest influences?
I really learned a lot by watching the Czech Masters of Animation, like Jiri Trnka or Jan Svankmajer.

 

Any real-life situation/ person you would love to shoot with?
Oh… I don’t know, I would have to think about it for longer...

When not creating stop motions, what type of photography/ videography are you most into?
Those last months I discovered drone aerial photography, I’m really enjoying it!

What’s your favorite piece of work of your own - where can our readers find it?
I think it’s “Professor Kliq – Wire and Flashing Light”. It’s a music video I made alone over the course of 3 months with free to use electro music. I was a moment where I was thinking I needed to renew myself, so I decided to push further and finally had the idea of seeing sound.
As it was finished, I sent it to the author who didn’t know I was working on it. He was so surprised that he decided to remaster his 6-year-old piece of music to match the animation better. And as the video had some success, he decided to quit his job to only do music! You can see the video here.

Find more of Victor's work here or follow him on Instagram: @patagraph

More than just a snowboard photographer

It's not just about epic snowboard images for talented and well-known photographer Dasha Nosova. Although the sport plays a big part in her life, the Red Bull Illume finalist is constantly evolving. We caught up with her to find out what's going on in her life, what impact the current situation has had on her work and what it's like being a woman in a male-dominated profession.

Snowboarder Seamus O'Connor © Dasha Nosova

What were the three most significant things that happened to you since the Winner Award Ceremony back in November?

The first one got to be the trip to Atlanta, GA, for the Big Air World Cup back in December where I was offered a job to follow Jamie Anderson for the rest of her contest season. We’ve been on some trips before, so I was extremely excited to join the journey. It was a great few months of traveling together, shooting at every top event and doing some fun stuff in-between.

Second must be the two weeks that I spent just snowboarding in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, over the Christmas holidays. This doesn't happen too often when I can simply go up and do some turns or shred in the park, so that was awesome, aIso because I was riding with my boyfriend Vlad and his friends. By the end of our time there I was able to hit the middle jump line which is pretty crazy for me! We also got a really cool sunset session going one day. I was pretty hyped to shoot at a new location and see a 9-year-old talented shredder, Nico Bondi, in person.

Last, I would say our experience volunteering during the outbreaks of COVID-19. A random circumstance brought Vlad and me to Novosibirsk in March (right when all the international snowboard events got cancelled), and none of us expected getting stuck there. So, we joined the organisation in early April after we watched the newscast covering some students who were helping elderly people in the city. It’s been an amazing and fulfilling experience being able to give back to seniors. It is something that has always been on our minds and that we would periodically bring up in conversations with each other. I’m happy we did it. If you have the opportunity, research some local organisations and try it yourself.

How did Red Bull Illume affect your professional (and personal) life?

In 2016, Red Bull Illume gave me a lot of motivation and showed me that people value my work. My submission 2019 kind of woke me up and reminded me that it’s not about the event photography, it’s about those meaningful journeys and a love for the sport and nature. Plus, the ceremony was such a good vibe, Red Bull knows how to throw a good event and bring so many talented people together. I got to see many friends I had not seen in a long time and meet new people. It was fun! Many of us kept in touch and we still support each other.

Where do you usually find inspiration/motivation for your images?

Back in the days it was the good old snowboard and skateboard magazines and movies that fueled my inspiration. Now it’s more about new destinations, people and other sports, or even something that doesn’t have anything to do with sports. New equipment also helps me to go out there and play more.

Have you ever thought about shooting other action sports or do you stick to snowboarding?

Before snowboarding, I was taking photos of BMX and skateboarding, because it was more realistic to make these happen in my hometown of Moscow which is a concrete jungle. Nowadays, I get to shoot other action sports in summer when I have time. I think it’s so much fun to explore and shoot other sports and it’s definitely something that I would look more into. Maybe even more music, urban or fashion maybe. Hit me up!

What makes your images unique in your opinion?

The colors, I would assume. This is just the most common thing that people ask me about. Also, minimalism. I can’t say all of my photos follow this style, but I’m certainly a big fan of keeping it simple.

You already talked about your personal experience during the last few months. What impact has the global situation had on your work? Is it still possible for you to shoot?

It has had a big impact. Almost all my jobs are outside Russia and my job as an action sports photographer literally depends on being able to travel. I haven’t really picked up my camera for work since February 29th. That was the last day of the Burton US Open in Vail, CO. Given the situation in Russia at the moment it’s not really possible to shoot the way I used to. It forces me to be creative and find new opportunities. While we wait it’s a good time to learn new skills and maybe explore different sports and different industries even. Though, the most important thing now is that my family and friends are staying safe and healthy.

Under "normal" circumstances: What would your plans for this year be? Any projects along the way?

Snowboard-wise, I would try to go to one of my favorite places - Folgefonna in Norway, we usually go there in late May - early June. A mandatory surf trip would’ve happened, of course. My idea was to go to California and maybe finally Hawaii, but at this point I would be glad to go to any country that reopens its borders to tourists and that has waves. There are some non-snowboard projects scheduled that I’m keeping my fingers crossed that some of them will take place later in the year.

In the Top 260 images from the Image Quest 2019 were only 4 female photographers, you included. How do you feel about the male dominated action sports photography scene?

It always depends on the people and the setting. Some days it would not even cross my mind that I’m pretty much the only girl, but other days it can be frustrating, and guys throw comments that are not ok. Some guys can be sceptical at first, having this image in their head that all girls are just drama and having a girl in the crew would ruin the “dude-vibe”.  If you really mess it up, guys will be like, "Oh, girls…" and that can definitely add some pressure. Earlier this year, I was shooting at one of snowboarding’s most prestigious events, and one guy came to me and said something like “I’ve always been curious - how do you travel so much? I see you everywhere. Like, do you get paid for your photos?”. I don’t think this guy would walk up to another guy and ask the same question. I would say it’s a bit more challenging and uncomfortable, however it keeps me on my toes. It’s so cool to see that there are far more people and companies who are stoked to invite and work with girls now than it was even five years ago. Hopefully, we will see more girls in the industry in the near future!

Find more of Dasha's work on her Instagram!

Here's what you can win if you enter Red Bull Special Image Quest 2020

There are so many reasons to enter Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020, among the top ten have to be all the prizes you can win!

Take your content creation to the next level with the amazing prizes to be won when you enter Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020. Every week a set of category finalists are selected through the Red Bull Illume internal jury and put to a community vote. These weekly finalists each receive a full license for Luminar 4 photo-editing suite by Skylum. A tool that can be used to make even more amazing adventure and action sports content.

That’s just the weekly winners, as one of the three overall winners you will win an out-of-this-world experience from Red Bull; a COOPH gift card valued at €250 for stylish photography apparel and accessories for your next shoot; furthermore, your content will be added to the current Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour where it will be shared with the world.

Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020 is the perfect opportunity to get your work recognized by a community of like-minded creators and the prizes are designed to give you that extra headstart. Go on, enter today and share your adventure and action sports creativity with the world.

It’s super easy to enter, click here to find out how!

Meet the all-new 'Homework' category!

The 'Homework' category is specifically for adventure and action sports content that is created in or around your home. Do you have images or videos that fit these criteria? Then read more and find out how to submit your content below!

© Matthias Dandois and dog @arianatherocket filmed by Constance Jablonski

© Matthias Dandois and dog @arianatherocket filmed by Constance Jablonski

The categories for the Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020 are specific, but still give content creators the freedom to share their own interpretation of the category. Homework is specifically for adventure and action sports content that is created in and around your home.

People all over the world have had to turn their home into their office, their gym, and ultimately their playground. The Homework category is for the creators who looked at their bed covers and saw the perfect wave, turned a tree in the back garden into an 8B climbing boulder, or realized that their dining chairs are great for parkour practice. As long as you are being creative at home, you can submit your content into this category.

Simply follow these easy steps to enter the Homework category:

1)    Share your best still and moving images (up to 1 minute) on your public Instagram feed.
2)    Tag @redbullillume, use the hashtag #rbi20submission and the category #rbi20homework
3)    Tag a friend to invite them to take part too.

Got the shot? Submit your content to Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020 and you could have your work featured in the current Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour and stand the chance to win a full Skylum Luminar 4 editing suite, plus a money-can’t-buy experience from Red Bull.

Well, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this and go make great content!

 

Isolation Skateboarding with finalist Markus Berger

Multiple time Red Bull Illume finalist Markus Berger set out on a mission to capture skateboarding now and then, throwing it back to a time when the streets of Salzburg were completely abandoned. Let yourself be inspired for the all new 'Throwback' category!

"Isolated Skateboarding in Salzburg with Philipp Josefu during Covid-19, March/April 2020. A series of photos that document an empty town and unusual ambience. Salzburg is a highly touristic destination with crazy numbers of tourists especially during spring time. Yet even during rush hour completely empty and quiet. Skateboarding through the streets and bringing a piece of life back outside to document this unique time for later generations. 

The reason behind this project is quite simple and then also not quite so obvious at the same time. The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a worldwide stop of the life we were used to have. Suddenly restrictions for moving outside and limited freedom in general. It was not too tough to adjust to stay home because usually I am working from home anyway. Yet as time goes by I realized that things changed and being home for such a long time without social contacts is quite a challenge. Then also reality hits and with zero money coming in and no job bookings all the way until summer, I started wondering how I am going to adjust and amply to survive this situation. There is no way to panic because life goes on one way or the other. So I sit at home wondering what I can do. Scribbling ideas and concepts for the time after Corona and setting up my workspace and archiving systems new. Cleaning my desktop and gear and then… then what. After a couple of weeks all is done. Slowly but surely the inner wish to capture this special situation on camera grew. Yet I also didn’t want to violate the regulations and be a part of the solution together with everybody else. Eventually I concluded that it is more important to create those images than staying home and saving lives. Those images might be a reminder for later generations to be careful and remember those Corona days. Of course all security measures like keeping distance and wearing a mask I took care of and it was only Philipp and me hitting the streets together and looking for spots to skate where you usually could’t because of masses of people. The goal was to bring back something that connects this surreal scenery with something that was there before. The message is „Skateboarding is still alive and so are you!“ and skateboarding can also be representing any other sport or art people were performing outside in the streets before this pandemic stopped the life outdoors."

Words by Markus Berger

One week extension of Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020

The contest for adventure and action sports content creators extends the competition by a week to celebrate their creativity in 2020 on Instagram.

Photographer: Jaanus Ree Red Bull Illume 2016 Category: New Creativity Athlete: Erik Orgo Location: Tallinn, Estonia

© Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Illume

The extension of Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest by another week is an opportunity for creators to try out every angle. How many times have you thought of an even greater idea after a submitting something amazing? Sometimes after a week of brainstorming, the very best ideas come out, that’s why the submissions phase is now open until July 12, 2020 at 23:59 CEST.

That doesn’t mean wait until the last minute because there will still be a set of finalists announced every week. One week of the submission phase has already passed, however the first round of community voting will now take place next week, from June 18 till June 21, 2020. Remember, there are three categories for still and moving images of up to one minute and a completely new category dedicated to the most original Instagram stories.

The external panel of judges consists of photo editors, digital experts, and world-renowned athletes that decide category winners and choose the overall winners for still, moving, and stories. As an overall winner, you become an official Red Bull Illume Winner and receive a tailor-made experience from Red Bull. Your content will also be added to the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour that’s currently travelling all around the world, gaining great exposure with a community of people passionate about the adventure and action scene.

Share your epic content with the world in Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020. Stay tuned to redbullillume.com and follow us on your favorite social media channels to get the latest news.

Get all the details here!

 

Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest 2020 is here!

A contest for adventure and action sports content creators to celebrate their creativity in 2020 on Instagram.

 

© Thomas Morel / Red Bull Illume

It’s official! Red Bull Illume is hosting a new contest, bringing you more of the world’s greatest adventure and action content with the Red Bull Illume Special Image Quest. It’s a celebration of all the outstanding creativity that is coming out on Instagram in 2020 and submissions open on June 1, 2020. Red Bull Illume wants to showcase the passion and dedication of photo- and videographers pushing the boundaries of content creation.

The Special Image Quest 2020 has three categories you can submit your still or moving images into, as well as a fourth and totally new one which calls for your most creative adventure and action sports Instagram stories. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional photographer or a first-time content maker, it’s the idea and execution that counts.

See all 4 categories and descriptions

 

The competition runs for 5 weeks from June 1, 2020 at 00:00 CET until July 5, 2020 at 23:59 CET. The Red Bull Illume jury will select the 5 still and 5 moving images per category, plus the 5 best stories every week. This selection will be displayed on our website. where the community will have the power to vote for their weekly finalists in each category and the winners are announced every Monday from June 15, 2020. An external panel of judges comprised of photo editors, digital experts, and world-renowned athletes will then select the category winners and thereafter the overall winners.

Full timeline and submission details

 

For the first time there will be 3 overall winners because still and moving content will be adjudicated separately. Each category (with the exception of Storytale) will have a moving image winner and a still image winner, resulting in: 1 Overall Still Image Winner, 1 Overall Moving Image Winner, and 1 Overall Storytale Winner. The winners will be announced on July 30, 2020.

As an overall winner, you’ll earn the title of being an official Red Bull Illume Winner and receive a tailor-made and out of this world experience from Red Bull. Your content will also be added to the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour that’s currently travelling all around the world, gaining great exposure with a community of people passionate about the adventure and action scene.

Get ready to show the world your adventure and action creations! Start by checking out your existing footage or finally making that content you’ve been thinking about because submissions open on June 1, 2020.
 
Stay tuned to redbullillume.com and follow us on your favorite social media channels to get the latest news!
 

Red Bull Illume is back in 2020

A brand-new contest from Red Bull Illume kicks off on June 1, 2020, to celebrate your extraordinary imagery.

People become more creative when faced with a challenge, that’s a fact. Right now, no matter where you are in the world, you have probably found yourself finding new ways to stay relevant and do what you do best. The result? A variety of unbelievable, unforgettable, and we believe, award-winning content. It’s for this reason that Red Bull Illume is happy to announce a special contest, starting next Monday, June 1, 2020.

Red Bull Illume celebrates the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery content creators with Illume Image Quest; this special contest is no different. With all the amazing creative work coming out in 2020, this additional special contest aims to provide a platform for you to showcase your originality on Instagram.
 
Have you challenged yourself to create something totally new? It’s time to go through your 2020 content or perhaps even plan the next shoot. Start now, because the contest opens for submissions next Monday! All the details will be announced and shared this Thursday, May 28, 2020. Mark it in your calendar and keep a look out on redbullillume.com and our social media channels.

Gallery: Epic self-portraits that made the Red Bull Illume finals

You heard right, there are “Selfies” that made it into the Red Bull Illume Image Quest final in the past. Now obviously we’re not talking about your average mirror snapshot, but photographs that took a different, surprising approach, no matter if they were spontaneous snaps or well planned creations. Get inspired to be your own subject with these 6 images from the past 10 years of Red Bull Illume!

Social Media 101 with Fabien Maierhofer

Social Media has become one of the most important creative outlets, especially for photographers who want to share their work with the world. But what does a picture need to perform well on Instagram? How do you choose what to post and how can it help your work as a professional photographer? Red Bull Illume 2019 finalist and social media expert Fabien Maierhofer gives us some insight on how (and why!) he uses social media.

The Image Quest 2019 saw a completely new category, Best of Instagram by SanDisk, which reflects how important social media has become for photographers over the past few years. With the fascinating image of a skier without snow french freeskier Fabien Maierhofer was one of the finalists of this category. With his award-winning web series "Bon Appetit" on YouTube Maierhofer has shifted his perspective more towards content creation online. With us he talked about this transition and more.

Your iconic shot of the skier made it to the final stage of the Image Quest 2019 in the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category. How important is social media for your work as a photographer?

Social Media is a big opportunity to show my work and for a lot of great photographers this is the best tool to show their pictures to the world. Previously, it was really hard to share what you created with a large number of people.

Why did you choose to submit to this category?

Submitting to Best of Instagram was the easiest way for me and it also meant that I could submit a little bit earlier.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the shot? How did it come about?

Although the shot looks out of this world, it was actually taken at the Col d’Izoard, a mountain pass in the Hautes-Alpes region in France. The image was captured while I was filming a behind the scenes video for one of my projects. When I saw the skier with the suit and the rocks I just took a quick snapshot for my Instagram. It’s funny because it looks so unrealistic and it made me question if skiing will look like that in the future due to climate change.  

Your transition from a professional freestyle skier to a content creator seems pretty smooth. Were there any challenges for you?

The real challenge is to be good in both! I’m still a professional skier and need to perform well on my skis but I also need to work on my photography skills. When I’m skiing the first thing I do is ski down the mountain and then, when I’ve reached the bottom I try to take pictures for practice. The only bad thing though, is that now I have to carry a heavy bag when I’m skiing.

What are you more passionate about: skiing or photography?

I think nowadays it’s 34% skiing, 33% film making and 33% photography. No, I’m just kidding, I don’t want to choose between my passions.

What inspires you to create?

Mountains always inspire me. Outdoor sports take up a lot of my free time and it’s crazy to see all of those colors, landscapes and adventures you can find there. I just love the mountains.

What do you usually look for in an image? What makes the “perfect” image for you?

The first thing I look for is a good landscape even before I look for the action. The perfect image is the right move in the right place. And if you have great light as well, you will make a really awesome picture.

What does an image need to perform well on social media?

If you want your picture to perform well on social media I think it has to be vertical. It also helps if it’s a bright shot that is understood by everyone.

What’s your favorite social media platform and why?

Definitely YouTube! You are able to tell a story and you can take your time with it as well. If people want to see behind the scenes material I redirect them to my Instagram. That’s where I usually show that kind of stuff. That’s also a great way to connect the different social media platforms.

Where can we find more of your work?

I share video content, tutorials and podcasts on my YouTube channel. Right now, you have to speak French to understand it, but I’m working on subtitles. On my Instagram account I constantly share images of my adventures.