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.

© Noah Wetzel / Red Bull Illume

© Noah Wetzel / Red Bull Illume

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 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.

© Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Illume

© Chris Tedesco / Red Bull Illume

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 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.

© Nils Ohlendorf / Red Bull Illume

© Nils Ohlendorf / Red Bull Illume

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

The Emerging by Black Diamond category is ready for the next generation

Solely reserved for rising talent, the Emerging by Black Diamond category is once again open for submissions from March 01 to July 31, 2021.

© Mathis Dumas / Red Bull Illume

© Mathis Dumas / Red Bull Illume

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 by Black Diamond category and it's back for its second edition!

This 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 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.

© Denis Klero / Red Bull Illume

© Denis Klero / Red Bull Illume

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.

© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

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.

First category has been announced - Lifestyle by COOPH

Red Bull Illume returns in 2021 for another round of the world’s best adventure and action sports imagery. Submissions to the contest open on March 01, until July 31, 2021, which makes it the perfect time to announce the very first category.


© Alexander Wick / Red Bull Illume

© Alexander Wick / Red Bull Illume

Returning for another edition is a category close to everyone’s heart – The Lifestyle Category. It’s for images that visually capture the creativity of the lifestyle, music, and culture that surrounds the adventure and action sports; or represents the moments before, between, and after the action. The imagery in this category shows the real reason people push themselves beyond the goal of landing the trick or sending the unthinkable, it’s about the passion of the people doing it.

The secret to capturing a winning entry for this category? Take your camera out before the action starts and carry on shooting even when you think it’s over. Capture every memory, from the laughter to the tears. Let us into your world.

The Lifestyle Category is brought to you by COOPH, the photography apparel and community-focused magazine that recognizes and supports people who are passionate about photography. It is the very first brand to design photography gear and apparel that is not only super functional, but also stylish. Their constant support of people behind the lens is what makes them the perfect sponsor for Red Bull Illume Image Quest, providing creators with the gear they need to capture every moment before, during, and after the action.

The Lifestyle Category is just the first of many aimed to spark ideas for your work. The next category will be announced on Saturday, February 06, 2021. The submissions phase opens soon, so make sure you mark March 01 to July 31, 2021, in your calendars and start shooting now!

Semi-finalist Nic Alegre and his one true passion

Nic Alegre is one of the industry's best-known winter sports photographers and his images are published in major ski magazines. He's usually travelling around the globe trying to capture the rawness of winter sports in a beautiful and unique way but he found time to talk to us!

© Nic Alegre

We talked to Nic about his work, his plans to submit to the Image Quest 2021 and the stand-out moments in his career! Check out the full interview and an exclusive selection of some of his most stunning images!

First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Could you give a little overview of your life as a professional photographer? How did it all start?

Always! I have a ton of appreciation for what Red Bull does for the industry and the way the company supports athletes and artists around the globe.
I suppose my path truly began when I started watching films from Standard Films, TGR (Teton Gravity Research) and Mack Dawg in my teens. My affinity for snow sports was already there – I grew up surfing on the end of Long Island, but there was something about snowboarding and skiing that got its hooks in me. Those films impacted me greatly and launched the connection I have to the winter sports world. When I took an action photography workshop in Whistler in 2010 put on by Blake Jorgenson, I decided that this was it and I was going to commit 100%.

How would you describe your style of photography?

Drama, contrast and a priority put on style. I appreciate athletes who have that thing which you cannot describe, an it-factor that makes them unique. I search for that in my lifestyle, portrait, and scenic shooting as well.

You’re well known for your ski photography. Is it your favorite sport to shoot?

I love to shoot both skiing and snowboarding. It’s more about who I’m shooting with that matters the most. Having a relationship with your athletes and crew is one of the most important ingredients that go into creating a shot that has impact.

What’s the most important thing to remember when shooting winter sports?

There are a few things that I consider to be the most important things to remember. The top three on my list are probably: Constantly moving to find different angles, trusting your instinct, and communicating with your crew.

Any tips on shooting the unexpected?

Knowing your camera, understanding setting specific exposure and depth, and then having the ability to change it in a split second is very important when shooting dynamic environments.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

The energy within the crew does the most to inspire me. I am at my best when I am perceiving everything and when the energy is high and there is a lot happening. I feel like everything about my senses is heightened and my ability to recognize moments as they are about to happen improves.

What are some stand-out memories or moments in your career?

That’s a tough question! I have so many amazing memories and moments that stand out that it really is hard to pinpoint one or two. My first POWDER cover, plus how TGR organized a surprise at the headquarters and filmed it is something I will never forget.
Winning Photo of the Year in 2018 at the Pow Awards and landing the final POWDER cover are high on the list too. TGR premieres are always a big highlight and all TGR trips are stand-out moments for me because of the experiences we share together. Getting the nod from Todd Jones to shoot with him in Alaska is a big deal to me and a sign of respect that I appreciate greatly. Biggest negative? Getting banned from Canada for overstaying my six month visa.

Do you plan to submit to Red Bull Illume 2021?


Where can we find more of your work?

On my website, the pages of POWDER Magazine, on Instagram @nicalegre and @tetongravity!

Overall winner Ben Thouard and his tips for unique images

What do you need to make it to the top in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2021? What images work best and why is originality so important? We talked to Ben Thouard, overall winner of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 and asked him all of these questions and more!

© Ben Thouard :

© Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume

The submission phase for Red Bull Illume 2021 is just around the corner (starting on March 1!) and that's why we decided to talk to the overall winner and category winner of the previous edition. Ben Thouard not only tells us his tips for up and coming photographers but also shares his own plans for the submission phase!

Since your win at Red Bull Illume 2019 a lot has happened. How has the last year been for you?

Yeah, the last year… pretty special, right?
I’m lucky enough to be living in Tahiti in front of the ocean and far away from any virus but the last year has not been the best for projects. Unfortunately, this year came right after my win at the Image Quest 2019 so it has been really frustrating, because a lot of projects got cancelled and COVID kind of swallowed it.
Fortunately though, I’m able to produce a lot of photos in front of my home, so on a positive note, I’ve been working hard on personal projects and somehow managed to be productive.


Anything exciting planned for this year?

I’m still working on my personal work, which I can hopefully release in a new book soon! Hopefully it’ll happen this year, but we’ll see how it goes, I’m excited to produce photos for it anyway.

You mostly shoot water sports, why do you stick to that sport and how has it all started?

I was raised close to the ocean, what with my dad being a sailor and my brothers surfers. I started surfing at a young age and always loved it, so it was natural to start shooting water sports too. Today I mostly shoot just water; shooting waves and the ocean rather than water sports. My career took a turn a couple of years ago, and even though I still shoot surfing sometimes and love to do so, I mostly focus on my books and exhibitions.


Let’s talk Red Bull Illume 2021, are you planning to submit?

Yes, absolutely! But I’m not sure if I can keep up with the quality of the other submissions. It’s only just over a year ago since the last Image Quest and we have not been able to travel, so I’m not sure if I’ll have enough material, but I will definitely start thinking about it!

What can we expect from you?

Not sure yet, I used to shoot a lot of surfing and then choose my best shot and submit it. I think this time I will especially shoot for Red Bull Illume and pick an idea.

Does your submission have to fulfill any specific criteria?

I used to select my very best work, for the 2013 edition, for example, I submitted 10 images. For the Image Quest 2016 I did a thorough selection process and at the contest itself I saw the most amazing submissions, which was when I realized how hard it must be to be a judge. That’s why I think the only way to make it to the top is to submit an image that is different to what we are used to seeing.

The main criteria that an image has to fulfill is its uniqueness. If it’s just another good shot it has very few chances to make it to the top. There is also no need to submit when the image is not technically perfect because the competition is really tough. Another important point for me personally is how hard it would be to re-make the image. If anybody can go and do the same shot tomorrow, I don’t think it deserves to win, it just has to be unique.



Red Bull Illume is about the moment of action, how do you make sure to capture the moment of action, that’s often very unexpected?

Perseverance is key! I think you need to know what shot you want to capture and remain fully open to what’s happening in each moment. It’s also a question of time, you have to be at the right place at the right time. That being said, it could take months or years to eventually capture something unique, but if you have an idea of what you’re looking for and you put time and energy into it you’ll succeed!

What’s one thing you learned from the contest and the people you met because of it?

It allows you to get feedback on your work and see where you stand amongst the outstanding work of other great photographers. I think it’s a really good exercise because it forces you to create more and it pushes you to the next level and that’s good for your creativity!

Any tips for upcoming photographers who want to take part in Red Bull Illume 2021?

That’s tough, but I’d say be unique!

You can find more of Ben’s work on his website and on his Instagram!


The Red Bull Illume Image Quest returns for the next edition of the best adventure and actions sports images from all around the world.

We’re back and ready for even more action with a new edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest - the adventure and action sports imagery contest that shines a light on the hard work and creativity of the content creators capturing the passion, lifestyle, and culture within the scene.  The contest returns in 2021 for its sixth edition with submissions open from March 01 to July 31, 2021, and is free to enter on for everyone that has a passion for sharing moments that inspire the world. No matter if taken by a professional or amateur - we want to see all the stunning adventure and action sports images out there.

A new year full of exciting plans for the 2021 edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest. Make sure to take note of all the important dates and put them in your calendar!

There will once again be 10 categories to enter, which will be announced very soon! There’s a category for everyone and you can submit on when the submission phase opens. Keep an eye out for the announcement as there are sure to be some new ones that will spark your imagination.

So many epic reasons to enter


The international judging panel will select the finalists, category winners and overall winner. Not only will you receive amazing photographic prizes, but also take home the grand title of being an official Red Bull Illume Winner and be showcased during the Winner Award Ceremony. On top of that, your work will be admired by people all over the world, earning you the kind of exposure that can shift your photography to the next gear.

It’s time to get your entries ready because now is your chance to take your place as one of the world’s best adventure and action sports content creator! Also follow Red Bull Illume on social media to stay updated.