These are the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 semi-finalists

02 Nov

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 semi-finalists

The fifth edition of Red Bull’s Illume contest attracted a record-breaking 59,551 submissions from around the world. It’s an increase of 72% compared to the number of entries from the last competition in 2016. Partnering with Sony, SanDisk, Skylum, COOPH, Red Bull Photography, EyeEm, and more, the latest Illume offered up 11 categories for adventure and action sports photographers and videographers to submit their work.

260 semi-finalists have been selected and will all be featured in a forthcoming limited-edition coffee table book. A panel of esteemed experts representing top news publications and digital photography brands will judge each entry and narrow the pool to 60 finalists. Those finalists will be invited to the Winner Award Ceremony that takes place from November 18th-20th, and their images will be on display in the Global Exhibit Tour that will commence immediately afterward.

5 finalists from each category, 11 category winners, and 1 overall winner will be crowned during the late November awards ceremony at the LUMEN – Museum of Mountain Photography on top of Kronplatz – a mountain of the Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. Winners will receive a set of prizes from sponsors, mentioned above, valued at €100,000 ($ 111,644 USD). Looking at the past winning galleries, it’s clear that Red Bull hosts this competition every three years. Maybe this will change as the competition has made significant gains recently and the promise of a special announcement at the awards ceremony has been made by conference organizers.

We were given the choice of 200 semi-finalist images to feature and narrowed them down, representing at least 1 image from every category, excluding Moving Image which can be viewed in the video above. Anyone interested in developments on winners and future contests is encouraged to follow Red Bull Illume on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

Semi-finalist, Wings: Sergey Shakuto

Semi-finalist for the Wings category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Sergey Shakuto, Russia

Location: Russia, Kolomna, Aerograd DZ

Biography quote: ‘Inborn craving for experiments.’

Biography: I was born and grew up in a small town in Russia, but since childhood I was dreaming about traveling the world and doing extreme sports. As soon as I made my first money as a graphic designer, I started to realize my dream. So more than 16 years I’m doing all kind of sports from freediving to skydiving and capturing it with my camera.

My super-power is my insider knowledge about sports and it helps me to speak same language with all the athletes I’m shooting.

About the photo: In Shakuto’s words, ’it was one of the first photos that I took in free fall. I was completely new in skydiving when Eugene [Tarakhomin] suggested taking a picture of him. One day he called and said “Hey Serge, you are a cool photographer, let’s make something together.” I wasn’t sure about that, because had no freefly experience. But I bought a special helmet, took the cheapest camera which I had (Sony A6000), and the cheapest and lightest Sony lens (SEL16F28).

I spent about a month for preparing and training. In total, we took about 10 beautiful photos in two jumps at sunset. This project is a perfect example what can be achieved with a wealth of experience in action photography and good technical skills, professional athlete, and at the same time the cheapest equipment and little experience in sports.’

Gear and specs: Sony A6000; Sony 16mm f2.8 lens; ISO: 100; F-Stop: f/6.3; Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec.

Semi-finalist, Wings: Tino Scherer

Semi-finalist for the Wings category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Tino Scherer, Switzerland

Location: Titlis/Titlisgletscher/Engelberg/CH

Biography quote: ‘My goal is to capture a moment so that each image fully reflects the energy expelled by its subject!’

Biography: I grew up in a little village in the heart of Switzerland and now call the beautiful city of Lucerne my home. I am a sports and lifestyle photographer who has worked with many brands and customers both in Switzerland and around the world. One of my first jobs was a project for Monster Energy. Since then I have completed multiple larger projects for renown Swiss and international customers such as Audi, Adidas, Leica Camera AG, and Schilthorn Piz Gloria.

The personal and direct exchange with the people I work with is something I highly value about my job. I always strive to understand and implement my clients vision and am fueled by my passion to master the technically more challenging side of photography. My goal is to capture a moment so that each image fully reflects the energy expelled by its subject!

About the photo: Fabian Bösch, from Engelberg, has long wanted to build a kicker at home and reflect the panorama and beauty of the Swiss Alps to the world. Around this time, almost everything is closed with us in the central Switzerland. I mean, in May nobody goes skiing with us any more.

Fabian was able to collect snow through the winter in cooperation with the Titlis railways to organize a shooting after the season, which has never been done before.At 3’020 m.a.s.l., Kobi Würsch, the Freestyle-Pak-Builder of SaasFee as well as of the Corvatsch course, built a kicker that was more than just a show-off. Perfect landing – “I’ve seldom seen such a long landing” – exactly aligned so that the sun disappears just before 9 pm directly into the Alps and an event where riders from all over the world were invited to spend a great session together.

The Titlis glacier was the Mecca this week and I was there spontaneously as a photographer. I had a lot to do during this time and could “only” participate in one day. But exactly this day was the best of the whole week and I took pictures throughout the day looking for my favorite spot.

From 20.00 [8:00 pm], the sunset shooting began and the boys banged out one hammer trick after the other. The light got better and better and I took pictures with 2 Leica Cameras. I had Studio-Broncolor flashes with me and wanted to take some flash pictures with the medium format camera with 1/1000 central shutter shortly before sunset. As it is, it gets more and more great and the atmosphere was really breathtaking.

So I went down and adjusted my flash, which was behind the kicker, but I hadn’t thought about the small radio transmitter not triggering over such distances. So Fabian came and I knew, with that camera i got no series, there are only single shots. Click – No The Flash has not triggered…then everything went so fast and the sun was only about half an hour there and the riders now skimmed out their stylish tricks.

I let the flash completely away and continue photographing and let the silhouette speak the picture. This picture with the very special flare was taken after a run with the same camera but faster shutter speed and I am super proud that I decided against the flash. So the picture has a very nice dynamic and fits perfectly into the scene.

Thanks Fabian for making this shooting possible!

Gear and specs: LEICA S (Typ 006); Hasselblad HC 3.2/150N lens; ISO: 200; F-Stop: f/3.2; Shutter Speed: 1/3000 sec.

Semi-finalist, RAW: Gaston Francisco

Semi-finalist for the RAW category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Gaston Francisco, Spain

Location: Barcelona, Spain

Biography quote: ‘After 25 years of shooting skateboarding photography, Gaston finally got the covers of the two biggest magazines in skateboarding, TWS Skateboarding and Thrasher.’

Biography: Gaston Francisco was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1978. A self taught photographer, he got his first camera in 1995 and hasn’t stopped shooting ever since. He attended the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) for five years where he studied Media Science Communication. This was complemented by a year of Journalism.

In 2002 Francisco moved to Costa Rica where he founded and directed the first ever Central American skateboard magazine, FLOW. After living there for a year he moved to his present home in Barcelona, Spain, to work as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in the most important skateboarding publications worldwide, getting to the peak of this industry when he shot the covers of both TWS and Thrasher magazines recently. A passionate traveller, he has visited more than 70 countries and plans to visit even more in the coming years.

About the photo: In Francisco’s words, ‘this photo was shot during the filming of a video about Optical Illusions. We did about 8 different optical illusions and even though this one was not one of our favorites for the video, it did come out really good on the photo. The secret for the success of this picture was having [athlete] Vladik Scholz doing the trick over and over, and having an artist like Julian Lorenzo painting the stairs on the ground and shooting the photo from the right angle given that the optical illusions only work when seen from a very specific angle.’

Gear and specs: Nikon D800; Nikon Zoom lens 24-70mm, f/2.8 (this shot is at 56mm); ISO: 4000; F-Stop: 3.2; Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec.

Semi-finalist, RAW: Robert Garo

Semi-finalist for the RAW category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Robert Garo, Germany

Location: Duisburg, Germany

Biography quote: ‘Follow your passion, work hard, and never forget your dreams.’

Biography: My story as a photographer is probably more directly related to the Red Bull Illume competition than many others. After being thwarted by a shoulder injury, I bought a camera and started taking snaps. Nothing was safe in front of my lens. I think my environment was happy, and that changed when I got my hands on the second Illume book at the end of 2013. Exactly those pictures I wanted to do too!Every single image fascinated me and I burned for sports anyway. One thing led to the other and so it happened that in 2016 I was fortunate enough to win the worldwide photo contest of Red Bull Photography by 500Px. It was inspiring to be a guest at the winner’s ceremony in Chicago and meet all the other photographers. Now it was 100% clear where my way should lead. I wanted to be part of this community.

Since that time, a lot has happened. In 2017, I decided to quit my regular job and shortly after that, I became part of the Red Bull Photography Team. I was able to get to know many inspiring people and my job takes me to other countries again and again. I was allowed to work for some small and some major companies and share their passion for the sport. I am very grateful for that!

In the end, the Red Bull Illume has changed my life.

About the photo: ‘The shot was more complicated than you would think at the beginning. It started with the fact that there was only one angle to take the picture. The camera position was not allowed to be a millimeter farther left or right, because otherwise the sculpture was not fully in the picture or had parts in the picture I don’t want. As a result, Frank had only a very small flat surface available for the trick.After everything had been prepared and set up, we could not get started because to our astonishment many people visit the Tiger and Turtle even late at night. In the end, a time frame of under 10 minutes resulted in getting the shot in the box. To capture the triple spin that makes up the trick and expose the background right, I chose an exposure time of 3 seconds and the flash trigger on the second shutter curtain to freeze Frank sharply. Fortunately, the timing was already right on the third try,’ says Garo.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850; 14-24mm f/2.8 lens; ISO: 100; F-Stop: 11; Shutter Speed: 0.3 sec.

Semi-finalist, Playground: Lorenz Holder

Semi-finalist for the Playground category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Lorenz Holder, Germany

Location: Bushmills, Northern Ireland

Biography quote: ‘Walking through life with open eyes and seeing possibilities.’

Biography: I grew up in Munich, close to the Bavarian mountains, and it is those mountains that have always played a major role in my life. Being outside with my friends was always the thing that motivated me most, be it as a snowboarder back in the days or nowadays as a photographer.

I’ve never studied or learned photography but I was so impressed and fascinated, how one single image can describe a whole scene, a whole day or even a whole trip. This power of an image caught me straight away and passion became profession. I’ve finished my university for being a teacher and then went all in – All I wanted to do, is to shoot and create.

The biggest influence on my style of shooting comes from outside the action sport scene. I love to get impressed by creative work from landscape, architecture and fine-art photography. But for me, this was always a little bit too boring to shoot, so I tried to combine those genres with action sport and that’s where I found my true love for what I’m doing. Walking through life with open eyes and seeing possibilities.

About the photo: ‘The story of this image started around 60 million years ago, when lava cooled down, in a very slow way, leaving a vast field of a hexagonal stones behind. There are only a couple of places on earth, where we can see those formations nowadays.

When I’ve seen this location for the first time, I was blown away and I knew I had to shoot something there. Over a year later I was standing there with my camera at the beginning of a very good looking sunset. Everything was ready, I had my angle, wetted the stones in the foreground to get a bit more reflection there, but one crucial element was missing: Senad Grosic.

This was our first stop of a 10 days shooting trip in Northern Ireland. The problem was, that his flight from Vienna was 2 hours delayed and it was never clear if he would make it in time for the sunset shoot. So there I was, alone with a perfect setting sun and a perfect scenery, but no athlete. Senad was about 15 minutes away, when I gave him a phone call, that he should mount his bike in the moving car and hurry up. He got there – no time for a brohug – no time for warm up – just up there and perform in a really beautiful sunset. 5 minutes later we got the shot and what a cool way to start the 10 days shooting trip,’ says Holder.

Gear and specs: Phase One camera; Schneider Kreuznach LS 35mm lens; ISO: 800; F-Stop: 4.0; Shutter Speed:1/320 sec.

Semi-finalist, Playground: Piotrek Deska

Semi-finalist for the Playground category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Piotrek Deska, Poland

Location: Mirów, Poland

Biography quote: ‘Climber and photographer combined in one.’

Biography: I was born in Czestochowa, Poland, on November 20, 1986 – in the city located at the north side of the biggest climbing area in Poland – Jura. It was only a matter of time before I started to climb and explore the outdoor possibilities of the area. During my teenage years climbing became my true passion.

I was inspired by the rocks around and was always eager to climb another eye-catching line. As soon as I got my first camera from my father, who is also a photographer, I found out the great joy in creating long-lasting memories by shooting pictures. Both – climbing and photography – can be symbiotic, and since I was able to get some first good looking shots at an early age, I became more and more passionate about taking a camera at the crag every time.

Nowadays I’m still an active climber trying to spend free time either at the crag or in the mountains. A couple of years ago, I quit my job as a web analyst and decided to take a chance of being a full-time photographer. I’m focused mostly on the outdoor world, trying to picture passionate people doing what makes them happy – be it climbing, mountaineering or any other activity.

With every picture, I’m trying to show something more than just an athlete. As photographers, we have only one frame that freezes just a split of a second, and it’s important to show something more in it. With every shot I make, I always try to create an image that will look great in large format on the wall.

About the photo: In Deska’s words, ‘last climb of the day in the typical Jurassic scenery. The common view of Polish Jura: bone-white limestone and a medieval castle ruins. Just add the climber, and you have a perfect combination for a picture.

While going to Mirów, I wasn’t thinking about a climbing picture. I had only a landscape shot in my mind of that specific frame. But I was lucky enough – even though it wasn’t one of the weekend days, which are usual time for climbing activity, I spotted a climber at the Turnia Kukuczki crag. Every piece came together – the timing (just before the sunset) and the climber, who filled up the frame. I “only” had to hit the shutter and make it a climbing picture instead of “just” a landscape photo.’

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV; Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 lens; ISO: 100; F-Stop: 11; Shutter Speed: 1/15 sec.

Semi-finalist, Masterpiece by EyeEm: Leo Cittadella

Semi-finalist for the Masterpiece by EyeEm category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Leo Cittadella, Norway

Location: Preikestolen, Norway

Biography quote: ‘Skate or die!’

Biography: Half Norwegian/Italian, but born in Sedona, AZ 1990 – Now working as a freelance filmmaker based in Oslo, Norway since 2009 – I got my first paid film job in high school and got some extra motivation to make it my job. After a few years with tutorials and long nights, things worked out and I got heavily involved with the snowboard scene. Action sports has thought me to be free and that helped me create my own style. Now I do all types of film projects, but with my main focus still on the shred.

About the photo: ‘We went up to film a skate video sequence on the edge of Preikestolen (2000 foot cliff). We got the whole spot to ourselves and wrapped up just in time to snap a photo before all the selfie tourists arrived. First time trying the camera, so the settings were all messed up!’

Gear and specs: Sony Alpha 7S II; 67mm lens; ISO: 2000; F-Stop: 4; Shutter Speed: 1/8000 sec.

Semi-finalist, Masterpiece by EyeEm: Nils Ohlendorf

Semi-finalist for the Masterpiece by EyeEm category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Nils Ohlendorf, Germany

Location: Fruit Bowl, Moab, Utah, USA

Biography quote: ‘The wilder, the better-chasing raw emotion and that magic light.’

Biography: I have always had the travel bugs and the joy of being outdoors. Studying geography did not relieve that; on the contrary, it gave me plenty of excuses for extended trips abroad. Moving close to the Alps for university enabled me to develop my climbing and skiing, and to spend a lot of time getting lost in the mountains with my friends. Regarding work, I was always concerned about a good work/life balance as well as a decent town/mountain balance.

I achieved this quite well, working mostly based in Germany, and for two years in South America, with plenty of opportunities to explore the Andes. Photography has been a part of my life for a long time. I was 15 when I got my first analogue SLR. But it was until about 4 years ago that I shifted my professional focus towards sports, mountain, and outdoor photography.

The boy in the dark room, developing black and white prints, the love for being outdoors and roaming the world, all the time in the mountains and at that point, it all came together.

About the photo: ‘During a two month climbing trip in the USA, I stayed in Indian Creek when I heard about the GGBY Highline Festival happening outside of Moab. I went to check it out and was totally impressed by the place, the community and the aesthetics of people expressing themselves by moving through space.

Next to the highline area, I had the chance to witness Andy Lewis going for a basejump right into the setting sun above the green river. It was a one-shot kind of opportunity, but everything aligned perfectly.

Gear and specs: Nikon D600; 35mm f/1.4 lens; ISO: 640; F-Stop: 7.1; Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec.

Semi-finalist, Masterpiece by EyeEm: Jeremiah Watt

Semi-finalist for the Masterpiece by EyeEm category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Jeremiah Watt, USA

Location: Arch Canyon, Bears Ears National Monument, UT, USA

Biography quote: ‘Raw, authentic, inspired.’

Biography: In the late ’90s, after a college internship gone awry, I turned to photography as an educational possibility. Years later, after life in a van, following the seasons for rock and snow, my camera and I reconnected. Many cameras later I still love an eclectic crew and a wild endeavor. Currently based in Salt Lake City, UT, my hope is to create authentic, story, and character-driven imagery that places the viewer in the midst of the experience.

About the photo: ‘Pat Kingsbury and Jackson Marvell are true desert choss wranglers. On this occasion they were attempting to free “Hellbitch” – an old aid line ascending 800 feet of freestanding sandstone through everything ranging from bullet proof stone to absolute choss. This was my second visit and I desperately wanted shots of Pat redpointing the crux off-width on the third pitch. We’d shot on the pitch repeatedly and we’d created incredible photos but they weren’t the send. As a photographer bent on capturing authentic experience, being there and capturing the actual moment it all comes together, beginning to end, is priceless.

This trip we had five days to make it happen, however, it was getting late in the season, temps beyond noon were unbearable, and time was limited. The day before this, we’d ran from the heat, and sought refuge swimming in sand filled water with margarita’s in hand. The next morning found Pat barely able to stand, dry heaving in his sleeping bag. Being our last day to work and shoot we couldn’t rest and left him alone to recover.

Hours later, as we began to rappel and clean the tower, Pat showed up in flip flops and shorts, feeling better, but not much. Realizing this was his last opportunity to climb his pitch until after the long desert summer, he borrowed pants (a small women’s were all that was available), tied in, and proceeded to send the 30 feet of nearly horizontal off-width using everything from leading with his feet to jamming with his head. The fact that he went from prostrate and dry heaving to sending one of the hardest off-width pitches in the desert still defies comprehension. This photo is from that send and will be an all-time favorite memory and capture for years to come,’ reflects Watt.

Gear and specs: Nikon D810; Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens; ISO: 250; F-Stop: 2.8; Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec.

Semi-finalist, Masterpiece by EyeEm: Ydwer van der Heide

Semi-finalist for the Masterpiece by EyeEm category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Ydwer van der Heide, The Netherlands

Location: Camps Bay, South Africa

Biography Quote: ‘Shooting kitesurfing action in tough conditions can be very challenging. You have to deal with wind, water, salt and sand at the same time. I love to be exposed to those conditions. It puts me in a space where I can capture the reality exactly how I see it. The reward is there when people look at the photo and get the same feeling I had.

In action sports photography you need to be lucky. For a good photo, all pieces have to fall into place. For me knowledge is king. Knowing every button and function of my camera and doing research about my subjects and locations means the chances of having lucky moments are bigger. It gives me room for creativity and I’ll end up with the best possible result.’

Biography: Ydwer van der Heide is an extreme sports photographer hailing from The Netherlands. As a fanatic rider himself, he has combined his early passion for photography and evolved to have one of the most instantly recognizable styles of imagery in kiteboarding. He blends natural elements with the movement and feel of the sport. A lot of people say that the texture of his shots is something else.

Ydwer has been coming to South Africa for many years to shoot with the best kiters in the world. His thrill for photography comes from reacting to the environment, improvising in the moment and accurately portraying the reality of the sports’ best riders braving the most extreme conditions.

His love for travel and adventure makes him criss cross the globe to shoot action sports and capture extraordinary moments of passionated athletes. He’s always looking for a challenge, new angles or locations and innovative ways of showing the sport.

About the photo: ‘During summer season many kitesurfers travel to Cape Town to enjoy the wind and the waves. For me as a photographer specialized in kitesurfing it’s the highlight of the season. I’m able to capture the biggest moments in kiteboarding history with the worlds best riders. These riders have become good friends throughout the years. One of them is Kevin Langeree, an athlete that pushes the sport in his own way.

Most of the people have seen photos from Cape Town and most of the time you’ll see Table Mountain in the background. This year I decided with Kevin to approach it from a different side. We started looking for other spots and angles. We found this tidal rock pool close to the city of Cape Town. It’s such a beautiful place where nature and city merge together seamlessly. I found this angle from above, where the clean pool was so nicely divided from the rough ocean by the typical bolder rocks that you find around Cape Town.’

Gear and specs: DJI Mavic Pro 2; Hasselblad L1D-20C lens; ISO: 100; F-Stop: 6.3; Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec.

Semi-finalist, Lifestyle: Tal Roberts

Semi-finalist for the Lifestyle category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Tal Roberts, USA

Location: Portland, Oregon

Biography: Tal Roberts got his start creating still images by hitting the pause button when the tricks looked just right on the classic skateboard videos of the mid 1990s. Though he didn’t use a real camera until years later the desire to document his passions was still intact. Tal kickstarted his photographic career while exploring the mountains around his home in Ketchum, Idaho and continues to focus on making pictures of his friends having fun.

About the photo: ‘Not much can match the stoke on Willow’s [the dog] face when she see’s we are going for a rip with the skateboard,’ says Roberts.

Gear and specs: Nikon D4; Nikon 16mm lens; ISO: 100; F-Stop: f5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec.

Semi-finalist, Innovation by Sony: Keke Leppälä

Semi-finalist for the Innovation by Sony category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Keke Leppälä, Finland

Location: Suvilahti DIY skatepark, Helsinki, Finland

Biography quote: ‘Keep shooting, keep exploring, keep doing what you love.’

Biography: I’m a Finnish photographer based in Helsinki. From an early age, I got into skateboarding and snowboarding. I bought my first camera when I was about 12. I shot quite a bit in b&w since my high school had a darkroom, and learned a lot about the “old school” photo development.

For a while in the ‘90s, I was a professional snowboarder. After that it was time for studies, and I ended up working with IT. About 15 years ago I moved to Denmark. We started a local skateboard mag (One Love) in Copenhagen and I got my first skate photo of Sam Beckett published in the Blind Skateboards catalog. From there on, skateboard photography has become a bigger part of my photo work.

2016 I moved back to Helsinki. I work as a freelance photographer but I have also worked with IT for many years now. I enjoy shooting action, wildlife, people and architecture – but skateboard photography combines two of my big passions: it gives me the chance to capture both the fun and beauty of skateboarding and the talent of the skaters.

I enjoy combining visual lines and clean backgrounds with the unexpected perspective.

About the photo: Every year, the legendary Suvilahti DIY skatepark in Helsinki is painted with new exciting artwork based on an idea by the local skaters and artists. In 2016 the theme was ‘Iceberg Ocean.’ During the HELride skateboard event held in Helsinki each summer, Suvilahti DIY has served as the scene for the breathtaking deathrace contest.

‘I am always in search of new unseen angles, and therefore I climbed the sketchy ladder up to 20 meters height of this metal light pole tower located next to the park. In shoots like these, you need to be right at the spot, hitting the shutter just at the right time. I shot many skaters during the deathrace, but my man Roope just got it perfectly aligned when he passed, and I managed to capture my idea into a picture. This angle really twists your mind, and you gotta love the beauty of the background. Artwork design by Laura Lehtinen.

Suvilahti DIY has been designed and built by skaters for skaters, expanding and evolving since 2011. The park, with a size of over 1000m2 [square meters], is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. Sadly, it is under the threat of being demolished. An association called “The friends and supporters of Suvilahti DIY skatepark area” has been founded in order to save and develop this unique specimen of urban culture,’ says Leppälä.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens, IS USM @100mm; ISO: 100; F-Stop: 5.6; Shutter Speed: 1/640 sec.

Semi-finalist, Innovation by Sony: Vegard Breie

Semi-finalist for the Innovation by Sony category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Vegard Breie, Norway

Location: Numendal, Norway

Biography quote: ‘Hard work pays off.’

Biography: Vegard started his career, as many others, shooting friends on skis and bikes. From then he has been very fortunate to do projects like going to Kabul with special forces, shooting cars in Hollywood to TV promos on beaches of Mexico. He always returns to the action sports, though. Hard to change what you love!

About the photo: ‘Anders [Backe, the skier] is the most hardworking athlete I know and always has some crazy ideas. We tried something similar a few years back that didn’t work that well. But when he came across this pool in an old school he knew about, we knew this was a go!

It’s done with a smoke machine in the pool, the temperature of the landing makes the haze stay down there. And I have one flash behind the jump with a blue gel, and one to my left aiming at him. There was a really minimal innrun, but Anders has incredible pop so he still made it look really good,’ explains Breie.

Gear and specs: Nikon D850; 14-24mm, f/2.8 lens; ISO: 500; F-Stop: 4.5; Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec.

Semi-finalist, Innovation by Sony: Dominique Daher

Semi-finalist for the Innovation by Sony category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Dominique Daher, Switzerland

Location: Col de l’Isoard (Isoard Pass)

Biography quote: ‘The more you pedal less, the less you go faster,’ – Coluche.

Biography: I was born in 1976 in Marseille, Southern France. I live and work now near by Geneva in Switzerland. I’m a former photo editor for a press group, specialized in mountain and counter culture sport, and have been a freelance photographer for more than 15 years. My photography journey is clearly inspired by the world where I grew up. A world of athletes from frozen water to melted snow, more often call boardculture.

Since a bit more than 3 years ago, I co-founded, a website focused on behind-the-scenes of outdoor sports, with a photojournalism vision where the words are as important as the pictures as well as the graphic design.

Neufdixieme is also a photo studio dedicated to the athletes. My passion for photography is so strong that I’m only working on this medium. My other interests are in contemporary art, minimalism, design, and architecture. Sport is not in my interest as it’s 100 % part of myself.

I believe cycling can save the world.

About the photo: ‘The first idea was to document the behind the scene of a little funny internet movie called Mountain Skiing. When I did my research with the team, we decided to work in a way called American Night, like Zorro back in the days. You shoot during the daylight and darken it in post. I thought it could be a good idea to do the making of and to try my little project on the side. I order[ed] a blue filter as it was mention[ed] as an important part of the process. The filter never came on time but it worked out,’ says Daher.

Gear and specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV; 50mm f/1.2 lens; ISO: 50; F-Stop: 2.8; Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec.

Semi-finalist, Energy: Michael Clark

Semi-finalist for the Energy category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Michael Clark, USA

Location: Little White Salmon River, Washington, USA

Biography quote: ‘With my work I am looking to push the envelope with the technology and the photographic possibilities.’

Biography: Michael Clark is an internationally-published outdoor photographer specializing in adventure sports, travel, and landscape photography. He produces intense, raw images of athletes pushing their sports to the limit and has risked life and limb on a variety of assignments to bring back stunning images of rock climbers, mountaineers, kayakers, big-wave surfers and mountain bikers in remote locations around the world.

Clark uses unique angles, bold colors, strong graphics, and dramatic lighting to capture fleeting moments of passion, gusto, flair and bravado in the outdoors. Balancing extreme action with subtle details, striking portraits and wild landscapes, he creates images for the editorial, advertising, and stock markets worldwide.

As a former physicist, Michael has worked on both sides of the technical revolution – helping refine the technology and using it for his current profession. Michael has worked as a professional photographer since 1996 and added digital photography to his repertoire in 2003. While Michael still shoots some film, mostly medium format, the lion’s share of his images are now produced with high-resolution digital cameras.

He has been featured in Digital Photo Pro (December 2011), Outdoor Photographer (September 2001), Nikon World Magazine (Summer 2006), Digital Photographer (UK, 2010), Rangefinder Magazine (May 2010), and New Mexico Magazine (2007) for his work with extreme sports. Digital Photo Pro proclaimed Michael a ‘Master of Adventure’ Photography in their 2011 Masters issue.

About the photo: In Clark’s words,Rafa Ortiz dropping over Spirit Falls while whitewater kayaking on the Little White Salmon river near White Salmon, Washington. This image was shot as part of the Elinchrom ELB 1200 battery-powered strobe launch, named “Lighting the Spirit.”‘

Gear and specs: Nikon D810; Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens; ISO: 400; F-Stop:5.0; Shutter Speed: 1/400th sec.

Semi-finalist, Emerging by Red Bull Photography: Theo Burette

Semi-finalist for the Emerging by Red Bull Photography category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Theo Burette, France

Location: Cergy Pontoise, France

Biography quote: ‘It is so inspiring to be around people that have so much passion for what they do.’

Biography: I was born in Paris in 1996. At 18 years old, I received my first camera and began taking photos.

At 13 years old, I took up skateboarding. I have always loved taking photos of my friends at the skatepark. At that time, I was always hanging out outside. I’m a big fan of extreme sports. I skated for 8 years. In France, we are lucky to have some of the most beautiful ski resorts in the world. Since I was a kid, I go up to the mountain to snowboard every year.

I also fell in love with surfing. My parents have taken my brother and I surfing all over the world (Morocco, Sri Lanka, Lanzarote, the Maldives, Japan). We’ve always had this love of extreme sports in my family. With photography, I have always evolved in my style by practicing and trying different things.

I will never stop learning – that is the richness of photography. I particularly enjoy following athletes and working with them, discovering new styles, new kinds of sports, and coming to understand their personal vision behind their practice. I love translating this through photography. It is so inspiring to be around people that have so much passion for what they do.

About the photo: ‘A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Jonathan Viardot.
He practices Martial Art Tricking and I immediately asked him if he would be interested in working on a photography project involving this relatively unknown sport – Martial Art Tricking is more than a sport, there is a whole culture of tricks behind it.

I wanted to translate the beauty of the movements, the energy that we feel coming off of the athlete, that moment in the action where time seems to stop. We decided to do the photoshoot at night in a space that is familiar to both of us – we are both from a town outside of Paris called Cergy.

The amphitheater of Cergy was the perfect place for the photoshoot because it possesses a principal light source coming from the top of the bridge. We wanted to play on the human silhouette to reinforce the movement by isolating the background subject,’ explains Burette.

Gear and specs: Nikon D7000; Nikon Objectif AF-S DX 35 mm f/1.8 lens; ISO: 2540; F-Stop: 1.8; Shutter Speed: 1/1250

Semi-finalist, Creative by Skylum: Evgeny Pavlov

Semi-finalist for the Creative by Skylum category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Evgeny Pavlov, Russia

Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia

Biography quote: ‘Explore, stay wild, creative and passionate.’

Biography: I was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, and was crazy about traveling and extreme sports since childhood. I started skateboarding at 15 and after few years tried snowboarding, which I fully felt in love with right away. A few years later, while competing in a snowboard contest, I got injured and had to hold on with a board for a while. In this period my girlfriend gifted me the first camera – a fully manual 35mm Zenit ET.

So I started learning photography by scrolling tonnes of web pages during the night, while during the daytime I had to combine my work at an architectural bureau with my diploma in the University. I tried to practice with roll of film every free minute.

As a photographer, I grew up working with different film cameras and it was something very special. Enjoying the process of getting the shot and a magic moments of waiting until you develop the film. In that time I discovered the pleasure of photography and decided to change my hobby into a part of life.

I’m also keen on urban exploration and rooftop climbing. In my photos I wanted to create something unique that no one had done before by combining that skills with photography and action sport. Different pictures that would really impress peoples minds. Traveling around the world, exploring new territories, climbing on the roofs, up trees and electricity poles, to get the best possible location and angle for the shot was my underlying goal.

Now I’m surrounded by 2 of my life passions – snowboarding and photography, still sponsored as a rider in Russia and able to shoot around the world for worldwide brands and top snowboard magazines.

About the photo: ‘Inspiration comes from everywhere. Sunday morning I went to the supermarket for groceries and while was walking through the rows of shelving – saw a little nameplate next to the canned fish, where was written “boneless”. I found it funny, because it was the same name as a skateboarding trick and just a moment later had an idea to create the shot with a skateboarder doing boneless and a pair of opened tins full of boneless fish.

Most of the time you can see riders doing this trick in a bowl, so nice curved “radius” out of the metal cap suits perfectly for that. [That] same day, I called my friend Alex, who’s pretty good at concrete bowls and explained him my idea. He found this artistic experiment interesting and few days later we’v made this photo.

I used 2 sheets of white paper to make a mobile studio straight in skate plaza, and made a shot of the tin straight away after snapping the trick, with the same light conditions as it was with the rider,’ explains Pavlov.

Gear and specs: Canon EOD 5D Mark III; Samyang 12mm f2.8 fisheye lens; ISO: 640; F-Stop: 4; Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec.

Semi-finalist, Best of Instagram by SanDisk: Hamish Frost

Semi-finalist for the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category, Red Bull Illume 2019: Hamish Frost, United Kingdom

Location: Bidean nam Bian, Scotland

Biography: I’m an adventure and mountain sports photographer based in Scotland. My journey into photography began capturing images of the Scottish backcountry skiing scene. However since turning professional three years ago, I’ve expanded into shooting climbing, fell running and basically any sports which allow me to spend as much time out in the mountains as possible.

I find the creative process of trying to produce exciting images in tough and inhospitable environments really appealing. If it’s a particularly cold or wet day, then you’re fighting the conditions trying to look after yourself and keep your camera kit working; if the best position for a shot is half way up a cliff face, then you’ve got to work through the logistics of getting to that position. I also love the physical challenge – being fit enough to lug lots of camera gear around and stay motivated to keep pushing the shutter button even when you’re exhausted, maybe also a little scared, and overall would probably rather be anywhere but there. I think the combination of all these aspects is what draws me to this genre of photography over anything else.

About the photo: ‘Guy [Robertson] and Greg [Boswell] had invited me along to get some photos of them trying a new winter route on Bidean nam Bian. They’d been casually vague about their objectives for the day – ‘we’ve got some unfinished business on Bidean nam Bian, get you at the car park at 5.30am!’ It’s nice to be able to do a bit of planning before photographing a climb, however I also enjoy the challenge of having to improvise on the hill. Reaching the foot of the imposing Church Door Buttress just before first light, their “unfinished business” became apparent. The summer line Lost Arrow Direct – an impossibly steep looking series of cracks and roofs leading up the cliff.

The weather that day had been poor for photos, however I knew that if the clouds were to clear slightly, then the west face of Stob Coire nan Lochan might come into view in the background. I waited patiently for a few hours and sure enough, just as Guy was making good progress on the third pitch, the clouds broke momentarily and I was able to get the shot I’d hoped for. Four hours later, Guy completed a sequence of grade 10 moves (in the dark!) to pull through a final roof section and top out on the route,’ explains Frost.

Gear and specs: Sony A7RII; Sony FE 70-200mm f4.0 OSS lens; ISO: 250; F-Stop: 7.1; Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec.

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