Red Bull Illume 2016 Winning Photographers Announced

The Red Bull Illume 2016 winners for the world’s greatest action and adventure sports photography has been revealed.

The overall winner of the competition went to Lorenz Holder for his atmospheric shot of athlete Senad Grosic riding his BMX across a bridge in the Masterpiece by Yodobashi category (pictured above). “I’d chosen a very low camera position to get an almost perfect mirrored scene on the water surface. The bridge looked like a perfect circle and the light was still very good. When Senad was on the bridge, it took us two or three tries to get the shot. There was also no more time for another try because the wind came up and the perfect reflection on the water was gone.”

In the Close up category, Denis Klero was awarded for his black and white shot of climber Rustam Gelmanov in Fontainebleu, France. “The main instruments in rock climbing are your hands and arms. It was a deal – we’d shoot a close-up of his hands. With the help of two medium soft box sets on both sides I focused on the hands and fingers, their owner hiding in the shade. I wanted the viewer to see more than just the hands of the athlete.”


© Denis Klero, Russian Federation / Red Bull Illume

In the Energy category, Luke Shadbolt took home the prize for his black and white image of surfer Renan Faccini taking on a huge swell. “I was travelling with a group of Brazilian bodyboarders. Having their local knowledge proved invaluable, with the minimal swell and chaotic city traffic in Rio we really only had a chance to look at one or two different options for waves before the winds would come up. Jaotinga became our favourite option. At each end of the beach were sheer cliffs that would refract the swell causing crossed-over peaks. The swell seemed to line up directly into this small crevice in the southern cliff and plumes of spray would catapult out at varying angles. Shooting from down the beach trying to capture some of these abstract formations I didn’t even notice Renan in the shot until afterwards.”


© Luke Shadbolt, Australia / Red Bull Illume

In the Enhance category, Dean Treml won with his image of cliff diver Jonathan Paredes jumping from the 28 meter platform on the roof of the Copenhagen Opera House during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, 2013. “While I was originally scoping out the location for this event I thought how surreal images could look without the diving platform jutting out, and just the small form of the diver, and the huge cantilevered roof dominating the frame. When reading the categories of Red Bull Illume this image jumped into my mind and I figured a quick ‘fix’ to one of my shots couldn’t hurt, so this version of the image really came about thanks to the Enhance category.”


© Dean Treml, New Zealand / Red Bull Illume

In the Lifestyle category, Jody MacDonald won with her mesmerising image of her brother Ken MacDonald sitting atop a train during their adventure through the Sahara Desert. “When I was young I used to look through National Geographic magazines and dream of adventures like this; train hopping through the Sahara on one of the world’s longest trains. Our risky rail journey started from the iron-mining centre of Zouérat in the Sahara, and snaked through the barren desert toward the port of Nouadhibou on the Atlantic. Having only a few minutes to hop on the train in the middle of the night, we spent 15 long hours slithering through the desert on the three kilometre train that transports approximately 84 tons of iron ore across a country crippled by terrorism, slavery and poverty.”


© Jody MacDonald, Canada / Red Bull Illume

In the New Creativity category, Ale Di Lullo won for his shot of Aaron Chase riding his mountain bike on the windshield of a NYC cab. “I understood that a shot like this had to be made in an iconic spot and the spot had to be in a city so it was clear that New York City with all its bridges was the place. And what could have been better than a NYC cab to shoot from? It took us one year of preparation, one full day of work, involved a few people and a bit of money. But I kept shooting, all the while fearing I would break the windscreen, and 12 attempts later I nailed this shot.”


© Ale Di Lullo, Italy / Red Bull Illume

In the Wings category, Micky Wiswedel won with his shot of climber Jamie Smith mid-fall as he attempts a new route on Table Mountain, Cape Town. “The angle of this image happened by chance. We were setting up for another shot but when I looked back I knew we had to change plans and grab the shot with the sea and horizon in the background, framed by this huge rock roof. The route is one of the hardest on Table Mountain. The last ‘crux’ section is near the top – you have a few pieces of protection below but there’s a final jump, or ‘dyno’ for the last hold. The image captures what happens if you don’t manage to stick that hold.”


© Micky Wiswedel, South Africa / Red Bull Illume

In the Playground category, Lorenz Holder won for his photo of BMXer Senad Grosic riding a rusted viewing platform in Senftenberg, Germany.


© Lorenz Holder, Germany / Red Bull Illume

In the Sequence by Sony category, Daniel Vojtêch won with his shot of Flying Bulls pilots.


© Daniel Vojtêch, Czech Republic / Red Bull Illume

In the Spirit category, Dean Treml won for his image showing kayaker Josh Neilson being supported by his fellow paddlers after a bad landing off Matze’s Drop, Storulfossen, Norway.


© Dean Treml, New Zealand / Red Bull Illume

The Mobile category was a new addition to the awards and saw Vegard Aasen win for his black and white mountaineering image taken in Hakuba, Japan. “Some friends and I went to Hakuba in Japan to ski some deep powder and big mountains. The day this shot was taken was a really windy one but the snow was still really good, so we went out into the country. One of my friends brought his DSLR camera, so I decided to not bring my camera because I wanted to ski instead of taking photos. We hiked for a while, and discovered a group hiking across the ridge above us. The wind and the clouds looked amazing, so my friend took out his camera and started shooting. I hated myself for not bringing my camera. Luckily I had my mobile phone in my pocket. I could not see anything on the screen, but obviously managed to aim pretty well. A week later, I scrolled through my phone, while waiting for sushi at a restaurant. I had completely forgotten about the shot, so I was pretty stoked when I found it. I edited it to black and white in Photoshop Express on my phone, and was really happy with the result.”


© Vegard Aasen, Norway / Red Bull Illume

The 11 winning photos will be displayed alongside 44 finalists in illuminated 2x2m lightboxes at the Red Bull Illume Exhibit Tour 2016. The nighttime photo exhibition will stay in Chicago until October 9 and travel to cultural hubs and hotspots around the world for the next two years. The exhibition opens from 6:30pm to 10:30pm and will travel to Toronto, Canada; Yonkers, New York; and San Francisco, California. Further tour stops will be announced when the time comes on Red Bull’s website here.

Title photo: © Lorenz Holder, Germany / Red Bull Illume