Photography: The Red Bull Illume Image Quest and Markus Berger’s Winter Athlete Photo Shoot with Leica

I remember the first photograph I had ever taken in my life: I was three and it was of my brother. If I can remember it, I can dare say it was a defining moment in my life (though I can’t say remembering I had to go pee while I was on the Spanish Steps was important but there you go…). Photography though, has always played a role in my life.

The interesting thing about Red Bull is that there is an active participation in becoming as wild and amazing in its sports as they are in their imagery. So they’ve created the Red Bull Illume Image Quest Photo Contest, held every three years to find the best in action/adventure sports photography, all the while pushing the boundaries and giving a new twist to what is an action shot.

Enter Markus Berger, Austrian photographer, and his Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot. Part of the Illume project, Berger takes Austrian athletes and photographs them in a diorama-style 3D set to do action photography indoors. The result is an eclectically fun, hyper-animated and visually striking set of photographs that look like they could have swirled out of a dream.

What I really love about all of this is that Berger uses a Leica, the brand created in 1925 by Oskar Barnack, who was the first to create a small format 35 mm camera, an invention that would revolutionize modern-day photography. The Leica is known among all serious photo enthusiasts for its quality images and, up until some years ago, handmade lenses. It is a marriage between the past and the present that is (as Hercule Poirot would say) “c’est magnifique!”

Take a look for yourself.

Benjamin Karl: Action shot in the Markus Berger Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Benjamin Karl: Action shot in the Markus Berger Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Dominik Landertinger, Austrian biathlete, in Markus Berger's Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Dominik Landertinger, Austrian biathlete, in Markus Berger’s Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Nadine Wallner by Markus Berger in the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Nadine Wallner by Markus Berger in the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Marcel Hirscher. Portrait by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Marcel Hirscher. Portrait by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Benjamin Karl. Action shot by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Benjamin Karl. Action shot by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Thomas Morgenstern. Action shot by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

Thomas Morgenstern. Action shot by Markus Berger for the Red Bull Winter Elite photo shoot.

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