Ben Thouard’s Underwater Surfing Photo Wins Top Prize at the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019
On Nov 21st, media, judges, guests, and the world’s best action and adventure sports photographers gathered at the incredible Lumen Museum of Mountain Photography, located at 7,500-feet atop Plan de Corones in South Tyrol, Italy, to unveil the winners of the Red Bull Illume competition which we covered the finalists for a few weeks ago.
Founded in 2006 and now in its fifth edition, Red Bull Illume is the premier photo competition in action and adventure sports. The event gives wings to photographers by providing a creative platform for both emerging and established artists.
After receiving a record-breaking 59,551 images in 2019, an expert panel of 50 photo editors and digital experts revealed the top 60 finalists in 11 categories, illuminating the images on 6’ x 6’ light boxes in the snow following the ceremony. Honestly, I wish I could have been there to see this installation as it looked wildly incredible!
French photographer Ben Thouard took home the top honors of the night, becoming the Red Bull Illume Overall Winner for his amazing underwater surfing shot taken in Teahupo’o, Tahiti (See featured image at the top), and American, Noah Wetzel won the Raw category for his spectacular image a mountain biker riding under the total solar eclipse in Teton Valley, Wyoming.
Thouard revealed: “I’ve dedicated the last few years to shooting underwater, looking for new angles and a new way to shoot surfing and waves. Tahiti has some of the clearest water in the world. This photo was shot during a freesurf session right before the WCT event in Teahupo‘o. This is Ace Buchan kicking out from the barrel through the wave, a technique to escape a close-out wave. Luckily I was right below, breathless with my waterhousing waiting for this moment.”
The 11 category winners and Overall Winner took home more than $100,000 in equipment and prizes! Be sure to visit the official Instagram page to see all of the finalists and winning images & videos.
The first recipient of the SankDisk Extreme trophy was Austrian Philip Platzer with Salewa’s Best Mountain Sports Image trophy won by Australian Kamil Sustiak.
Overall, each and every one of these images is pretty epic and worth taking some time to check out each one and their respective creators! Check out the category winners below, and be sure to also view the collectible hardcover Limited Edition Red Bull Illume Photobook that also features 260 of the best action and adventure sports image submitted in 2019. I’ll tell you this, these shots have got me very inspired to get out and attempt to capture some of my own to enter next year. How about you? Let us know in the comments below.
- Best of Instagram by SanDisk: Baptiste Fauchille, France, with a shot from a buddies trip with a business goal showing Alex Bibollet’s shadow in the bowl of Fillinges, France.
- Creative by Skylum: Denis Klero, Russia, for his visually striking image of Paul Alekhin to celebrate the change of season in Streetfire Club, Moscow, Russia.
- Emerging by Red Bull Photography: Jean-Baptiste Liautard, France, joins the big leagues with this mirrored shot of Jeremy Berthier at his trail in Bourgoin-Jallieu, France.
- Energy & Overall Winner: Ben Thouard, France, shows the power of surfing with this underwater shot of Ace Buchan kicking out from the barrel through the wave in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
- Innovation by Sony: Laurence Crossman-Emms, United Kingdom, takes the imagination by storm with this image of Katy Winton BMXing through a puddle at Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales, United Kingdom.
- Lifestyle: Alexander Wick, Germany, for his tribute shot of Philipp Bankosegger, Chris Rudolph and Luke Lalor taking a nap by Salathé Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, USA.
- Mastepiece by EyeEm: Lorenz Holder, Germany, for his shot of Senad Grosic flying in the magical Game of Thrones location, The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland.
- Moving Image: Rupert Walker, Canada, for his precise shot featuring Brandon Semenuk and Ryan Howard riding down a custom built slalom line in Paso Robles.
- Playground: Lorenz Holder, Germany, with a shot of Vladic Scholz in the surreal Ouse Valley Viaduct, South England.
- RAW: Noah Wetzel, USA, for his shot of Chris Bule riding under the Total Solar Eclipse in Teton Valley, Wyoming, USA.
- Wings: Philip Platzer, Austria, captures athlete Marco Fürst flying on an unthinkable hot air balloon swing in Fromberg, Austria.
*Images shared with permission