Top 50 Images Announced for Red Bull Illume

Press Release / 08.11.2023
One of the top 50 Red Bull Illume images for 2023
One of the top 50 Red Bull Illume images for 2023 / © © Gonzalo Robert Parraguez / Red Bull Illume

After guessing which entries from the top 250 will make it into the finals – now they’re here! The top 50 of the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2023 are live. Dive in at

Ever since the top 250 selection was announced in October, the creative community has waited in anticipation. Which of these amazing images would make the cut and become top 50 for the seventh edition of Red Bull Illume? Now the top 5 from each category have been revealed, as selected by the jury of 52 photography industry experts. 

For the successful creators it is a momentous achievement. The top 50 images have beaten out thousands of other entries for their place. Not only are they amazing in scope, showing both the most impressive moments as well as the quieter scenes around adventure and action sports, but they are also hugely varied. 

The Stories Behind the Shots

Behind the top 50 images there are stories which show the challenges of documenting action sports. "I’m sweating, cold sweating. The tension suffocating the air is vulnerable to being cut with the tip of my ice pick." Australian photographer Julian Morgan found out often it is only seconds that decide the outcome of the shoot.

When shooting Mason Gardener climbing above The Remarkables, NZ, Morgan put his body on the line. As the light and his subject began to fade, he knew he needed to take the shot. “Mason flakes an arm, the pump causing him to vent out a pained scream as the blood drains. It was now or never, the frame is only centimeters off. In a split decision, I rip the screen out and thrust the back of the camera into the rock behind me.”

Ted Grambeau’s story “Worst nightmare” could have been much, much worse. The athlete Rodrigo Reinoso was captured suspended at the top of a virtual waterfall, to be launched backwards over the falls. Remarkably unscathed but ending up in an even more dangerous position exposed on dry reef, Rodrigo was rescued by surfer Matahi Drollet on his jet ski. What’s more, Grambeau found himself in the same situation days later, with the only casualty being his camera equipment. The Australian photographer remains stoic though: “The price we pay.” 

Jan Faßbender’s life was turned upside down in 2017: “While on a trip to Chile I was diagnosed with brain cancer.” This turning point led him to question his work and redefine his approach. This resulted in a more artistic, architectural direction, he says about his finalist image: “In this case, the architecture is the built, structured, planned part of the work, and on the other side you see the skater, the natural, the living, the I-point.” 

Each of the images has a unique story behind them and shows the creativity, hard work, and dedication of the creators who go to extreme lengths to capture such outstanding moments.

The Upcoming Schedule

Now that all of the top 50 have been announced it just a short wait until we know who will take home the individual categories. All finalists are invited to the Red Bull Illume Winner Award Ceremony in Sölden, Austria that takes place from November 28 - 30. There, the 10 category winners will be awarded along with the overall winner.

Here the who’s-who of the adventure and action sports photography scene come together in the heart of the Austrian Alps to celebrate the best imagery. Following the Winner Award Ceremony, the top 50 images will be exhibited on 2x2m lightboxes in the village of Sölden until December 21 in the unique outdoor exhibition.

After the Winner Award Ceremony, the exhibit tour starts, beginning with the Berlin Travel Festival from December 1 - 3 followed by Hangar-7 in Salzburg from December 13 until February 4, 2024, before setting off to illuminate the world.

The stories behind all of the images, more information about finalists and all latest news can be found on

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