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Meet the Winners: Red Bull Illume's Best of Instagram

These are the Best of Instagram by SanDisk category winners in the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 photography competition.

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This year’s Red Bull Illume Image Quest competition takes the phrase “do it for the ‘gram” to a whole new level. The Best of Instagram by SanDisk category is one of two new categories in Image Quest 2019 and was created specifically for photographers to show off their most ‘gram-worthy moments of adventure and action sports.

Every month from February to June, 25 of the most eye-catching, show-stopping images enter a public vote, and one comes out on top. The five monthly winning images will automatically qualify for the finals of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019.

Best of June Winner: Hamish Frost

Climbers scale a steep face of Bidean nam Bian in the Scottish Highlands.
The west face of Stob Coire nan Lochan peeking through the clouds in the background gives this shot a wonderfully wintery vibe. Photo courtesy of © Hamish Frost / Red Bull Illume

Scottish photographer Hamish Frost earned the honor of being the fifth and final winner in the Best of Instagram by SanDisk competition with his truly unbeatable shot of climbers Guy Robertson and Greg Boswell. After being inspired by the work showcased in the 2016 edition of Red Bull Illume Image Quest, Frost stepped up his game as a photographer—all the way to the finals in 2019.

Frost’s enthusiasm for adventure photography grew out of his love for the outdoors. Before becoming a professional photographer, Frost was living and working near the Scottish Highlands and ski touring in the hills as much as possible, bringing his camera along for the ride. 

Frost has found his ideal profession in adventure photography, as it allows him to spend his working hours outside around the Scottish Highlands, other mountainous regions in the UK, and the Alps. This kind of work isn’t without its challenges though, but Frost welcomes them. 

“Taking photos in those kind of environments brings plenty of unique challenges (e.g. the cold, bad weather, getting to the right places in mountainous terrain) and I find having the process of having to work around those challenges to produce decent images incredibly satisfying,” Frost says.

Challenges like these were abundant during Frost’s effort to capture the June Best of Instagram by SanDisk shot. His subjects, Robertson and Boswell, took on a new, super steep winter route of Bidean nam Bian, the highest point in the former county of Argyll in the south of Glen Coe, Scotland. Without much instruction from the climbers, Frost had to think on his feet during the climb, and battle some true winter weather, but managed to capture the adventure in all its glory.

“It’s awesome for Scottish winter climbing to get some more exposure on a worldwide stage,” Frost says. “The ascents being done by people like Greg, Guy and many others in the scene are truly cutting edge.” To see more cutting-edge photos from Frost, follow him on Instagram.

Best of May Winner: Jeremy Bernard

Best of Instagram by SanDisk May winning photo of a slackliner at sunset at Ua Pou, Marquesas Island, French Polynesia.
It’s not hard to see why this sunset slackline shot caught the attention of Red Bull Illume’s public voters.Photo courtesy of © Jeremy Bernard / Red Bull Illume

Professional photographer Jeremy Bernard of France is the fourth winner of the Best of Instagram by SanDisk competition. He has been doing photography for eight years, and said he enjoys the challenges that each day brings. And as a lifelong skier, Bernard’s main focus has always been sports photography. 

“Sport is always a key point in my photography but I’m not focused on the action or the performance so much anymore. What I look for is a solid story, with interesting characters or a social and/or political aspect,” Bernard says about what inspires his creativity.

His shot of world record-holding slackliner Nathan Paulin strolling at sunset 70 meters above the ocean gives us all kinds of butterflies. To capture this image, Bernard spent months working as a photographer onboard a Maewan Adventure Base sailboat in the South Pacific. The 370 meter-long highline in this photo was set above Sharks Bay in Ua Pou, the third largest of the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia in November. 

“It took us one full day to set up the line above the bay, and two more days to shoot it,” says Bernard. Weather in this part of the world is incredibly unpredictable, which was a challenge for Bernard and his crew. But, after an afternoon of pouring rain, the clouds parted and Bernard was able to capture this breathtaking moment.

“It was a great reward for all the team, with a mega sunset as a super bonus. Can’t get any better than that,” Bernard says about finally getting the stunning shot.

Look for more show-stopping adventure photos from Jeremy on his Instagram account.

Best of April Winner: Fabien Maierhofer

Best of Instagram by SanDisk April winning photo of a skier dressed in a space suit scoping out his rocky run.
The April Best of Instagram by SanDisk winning photo gives a whole new meaning to ‘out of this world’ photography.Photo courtesy of © Fabien Maierhofer / Red Bull Illume

As a professional skier and a media content creator, Fabien Maierhofer has found a way to pursue both of his passions at the same time. He has been a Salomon-sponsored athlete since the age of 17, created his first short movie at 19, and has been working in the outdoor media industry ever since.

His goal is to tell real stories of real people—with real humor. “I always try to put humor in my work, in the picture or the description. Outdoors sports are sometimes too serious in my opinion,” he says. His quirky style is clear in his winning photo for April’s Best of Instagram SanDisk competition.

Maierhofer helps us imagine what a run on the slopes of the moon might look like with his winning photo from April. Although the shot looks out of this world, it was actually taken at the Col d’lzoard, a mountain pass in the Hautes-Alpes region of France. The image was captured by Maierhofer while he filmed a behind the scenes video of the project “Moontain Skiing” in November.

“When I saw them with the suits, the light and rocks, I just took quick snapshots for my Instagram,” says Maierhofer. “It’s funny how the frame looked unrealistic and it made me question  what will skiing be without snow due to pollution in a close future. Something close to Mad Max movies.”

Check out more of Fabien’s creative work on his YouTube channel and Instagram.

Want to join the 5 finalists from Best of Instagram by SanDisk at the Winner Award Ceremony at the breathtaking LUMEN – Museum of Mountain Photography on Kronplatz, South Tirol, Italy in November 2019? Then take your chance and submit your best adventure and action sports images now on – there are only 2 weeks to go! 

SKI Magazine is an Official Media Partner for Red Bull Illume 2019. To see more of Best of Instagram by SanDisk winning images, and to learn more about how to enter Red Bull Illume 2019 Image Quest 2019, visit the competition’s website