Max has previously ridden at 104 mph
© Philip Platzer/Red Bull Content Pool
Biking captured in the moment: Red Bull Illume shots to send you wild
With the 2021 edition of Red Bull Illume now open it's a great time to celebrate some stunning shots of bikes and the athletes who ride them.
Written by Rajiv Desai
Published on
Part of this story

Senad Grosic


Pavel Alekhin

Red Bull Illume is a photography contest dedicated to the world of action and adventure sports. Its purpose is to showcase the most exciting, captivating and creative action sports and adventure photography on the planet, while illuminating the passion, lifestyle and culture behind the photographers who shoot them.
Read on for details on how to enter the 2021 edition and then scroll on down as we showcase the best bike photography from the 2019 competition and hear the stories behind those shots.

Submissions for 2021

The Red Bull Illume submission list features 10 categories, including a new category for 2021: Photo Story – photos presented in a slideshow from 30 seconds up to three minutes. Also new for 2021 is that videos, in addition to photos, can be submitted to the Best of Instagram by Lenovo category. For each category, you can submit up to 10 entries, and you can submit the same image to a maximum of two categories. The contest is free to enter and open to both professional and amateur photographers. Entries for all categories are open for five months, from March 1 to July 31, 2021. For more details on Red Bull Illume go here.

Puddle path

MTB Athlete Katy Winton as captured riding through a puddle by Laurence Crossman-Emms in Wales.
A puddle parts its ways for Katy Winton
  • Athlete: Katy Winton
  • Location: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Innovation by Sony - Winner
The Shot: Blaenau Ffestiniog was once described as the wettest place in Wales, the puddles are plentiful. I’ve always been attracted to their animations when struck by a bicycle at full steep. The tyres of Katy Winton making the perfect parting of this muddy sea. The combination of dynamic action and the silk-like curtains made me try each time more determined.
This concept had always been in the back of my mind but finding the perfect location and it aligning with both the weather and sufficient puddle depth was tough. You can never guess how water reacts when you hit it with force, sometimes the results exceed your expectations… this was one of those times.

Old world meets new world

Senad Grosic as seen riding through the The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland.
The Dark Hedges of Game of Thrones fame is the backdrop for Senad Grosic
  • Photographer: Lorenz Holder
  • Athlete: Senad Grosic
  • Location: The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Masterpiece by EyeEm - Winner
The Shot: The first time I saw this location was when I was watching Game of Thrones and I was blown away by the pure magic this road generated in me. I found out that this place is actually real and located in Northern Ireland. A year later I was actually standing there with Senad Grosic and trying to get a bunny-hop-tailwhip on camera.
It was early in the morning with the first sun rays hitting the road and we managed to get a pretty cool shot, but somehow I knew that there was pure potential in the spot. So, we decided to stay a couple days longer and waited for some kind of rain, fog or other particles in the air, so I could use one flash from behind and create a white background to make Senad stand out a bit more and get the focus a bit more on the action.

Eclipsed by the sky

Chris Brule descends down a trail at Teton Valley in the state of Wyoming in the United States.
Chris Brule riding under a solar eclipse
  • Photographer: Noah Wetzel
  • Athlete: Chris Brule
  • Location: Teton Valley, Wyoming, United States
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: RAW - Winner
The Shot: The imagery goal was to capture the Total Solar Eclipse in Wyoming in August 2017 and showcase mountain biking utilizing an in-camera double exposure – a very complex process. After capturing the first image successfully during two minutes of totality, all we had to do was endure the midday sun, waiting for twilight and the attempt at the second frame. Unfortunately, I was unaware I had damaged the hot shoe connection on my camera four weeks prior thus preventing me from triggering my flashes.
Our only option required athlete Chris Brule to hit the feature in near darkness at 9pm, allowing me to set the camera to a 2.5 second exposure, manually firing the flashes and freezing Chris mid-air.

Got your back

Adosu Segun performs a BMX trick with his friend on his back in Lagos, Nigeria.
Skaing has his friends back always
  • Photographer: Tyrone Bradley
  • Athlete: Adosu Segun a.k.a. SKing
  • Location: Lagos, Nigeria
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Lifestyle - Finalist
The Shot: This shot of SKing was taken near his house in Makoko, an informal fishing settlement near the affluent area of Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. SKing wanted to show me where he lives and tell me the story of how he started riding. We bumped into his friend (standing on his back) and although he introduced me, I can‘t remember his name. Next thing this guy just started climbing on SKing. Turned out this was the first trick they learned together to impress their community.

Mirror image

Jeremy Berthier captured between dirt jumps by photographer JB Liautard in Bourgoin-Jallieu, France.
Jeremy Berthier silhouetted perfectly
  • Athlete: Jeremy Berthier
  • Location: Bourgoin-Jallieu, France
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Emerging by Red Bull Photography - Winner
The Shot: Two things that I love when it comes to photography are silhouettes and reflections and I wanted to use both in a single frame for a long time. My chosen athlete Jeremy had this trail and the jump he had built there was definitely a highlight. I knew I wanted to shoot it from the side and get that reflection but at the time of the shoot it was really dry and there was no water around.
When I saw a wheelbarrow hanging around by the jumps, I had the idea to fill it up with water to create a mirror. After spending a lot of time adjusting the wheelbarrow and cleaning the water in the afternoon, my mirror was finally ready for the evening shoot. After a few attempts, we got this one, just as I imagined it at the very beginning.

Frozen in the moment

Pavel Alekhin captured at a moment in time by Denis Klero in Moscow, Russia.
Pavel Alekhin caught in a moment of time
  • Photographer: Denis Klero
  • Athlete: Pavel Alekhin
  • Location: Streetfire Club, Moscow, Russia
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Creative by Skylum - Winner
The Shot: As soon as the first snow starts falling the social media community bursts in excitement and instantly shares videos and photos showing the first flakes of the year. I didn‘t want to miss out and started working on a concept to show the change of seasons. Consequently, I developed an idea of a series of three main pictures with some supporting detail shots, which had to be visually strong and inherent to the world of Red Bull. This picture with Pavel Alekhin is one of those.

BMX from above

Alex Bibollet as see riding at skate bowl in Fillinges, France.
Alex Bibollet against shadows and shapes
  • Photographer: Baptiste Fauchille
  • Athlete: Alex Bibollet
  • Location: Fillinges, France
  • Red Bull Illume Category 2019: Best of Instagram by SanDisk - Winner
The Shot: This photo was taken at the bowl of Fillinges. When I arrived on the spot the first thought I had in mind was to make a top-shot video with the drone: a fixed plan with a rider who makes his line with the intention of creating a loop. Then I realised that the bowl was really clean: no tags, no dust. I was able to have the rider and his shadow come out well. I asked Alex Bibollet, one of the riders, to do what he did best, and I immortalised this moment!
Part of this story

Senad Grosic


Pavel Alekhin