Getting the perfect shot for Red Bull Illume is a tough job, says 2013 category winner Dan Vojtěch, whose studio shot of a biker so impressed judges last time around. But what counts is not the reaction of the audience – but the athlete, he says.

Did winning in 2013 have a big impact for you?
“It’s hard to tell because people don’t tell you why they gave you this job. But a lot of people remember this image. You have a meeting and you show your portfolio and they recognize this image – that helps you always! Also, some people are not able to recognize what is a good picture and what is not – but if you won or are the top 50 of a competition, it’s a good indicator.”


What was the main takeaway experience?
“It gave me a lot of motivation to do new stuff because this was my personal project. It gave me a lot of energy for new projects. This was the most important result for me. If you do something and people like it… that’s why you do this.”

And the inspiration must have been good also?
“I really love to look at photos of other photographers. So it was really a great experience to meet everyone in Hong Kong. You see all these amazing images, it can’t not inspire! I still have the book in the studio. Sometimes I just have a look and go through. It’s the bible of sport photography.”



Do you have something in mind for the next contest?
“I think it will be something creative again. New Creativity is my favorite category. In the Czech Republic the landscape is nice but not as dramatic as the US or New Zealand. We have small mountains so maybe I do something in the studio. I already did two shoots of the same concept, one was with a kayaker, black and white again with some strobes. Then we did a shoot with the Red Bull Air Race pilot Martin Šonka three months ago. We had a lot of flashes – about 35 – and he flew between them. That was quite crazy.”

Any other categories interest you?
“I also shoot on my mobile phone. I will try to participate in the Mobile category as well. The best camera is the camera you have with you. A big DSLR is better quality and you can zoom but I don’t have it with me all the time. If I spend time with family or visit friends I don’t have the camera as I want to relax but I’ll have my mobile with me. And if I see something in a good light I want to capture it. That’s the time for the cell phone. You need good light conditions though.”


Final word?
“If you’re an action sports photographer, the most difficult part is combining these two things: sport and art. You want to produce something for people that’s nice visually but it’s really important to include the sports side. For me, it’s more important that the athlete likes it. If you don’t consider them, they will not work with you.”

Catch up with Dan and his work by visiting his website, Facebook or Instagram.

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The world’s greatest action and adventure sports photography contest is back and better than before with the addition of a new mobile category. Download the Ultimate Guide to Red Bull Illume here and mark March 31, 2016 on your calendars! That’s when submissions close.

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