See the Winners of the World’s Best Adventure Sports Photo Contest

For the first time, a woman has won the Red Bull Illume photography competition. Krystle Wright’s photo of climber Angela Van Wiemeersch in Long Canyon, Utah scooped the top prize. Women, including Wright, have won different categories before but never the overall prize.

Energy Category Winner. Ted Grambeau’s photo shows surfer James 'Jimmy' McKean mastering the swell at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania, Australia.

The Energy category winner shows surfer Jimmy McKean tackling a particularly gnarly swell at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania. Photo: Ted Grambeau/Red Bull


Wright, an Australian photographer, has entered the contest several times and been a finalist on two occasions.

She told Red Bull, “I was driving to my local crag when an idea hit me…I conjured the idea of illuminating a crack from within on an iconic trad climb.”

She then sought out the perfect fissure and set up the lights within it to create the spectacular image of a climber almost seeming to ascend a lightning bolt. They only had a few hours to rig the lights before darkness fell, and Wright took the photo with her mirrorless Leica SL2 camera.

Creative category winner. Ice climber Virgile Devin at L’Usine, France. Photo: Delphin Montessuit/Red Bull

Ten categories plus an overall winner

The Red Bull Illume first ran 17 years ago and has become the world’s most prestigious adventure and action sports photography competition. There are 10 categories: Innovation, Masterpiece, Creative, Emerging, Energy, Lifestyle, Photos of Instagram, Reels of Instagram, Playground, and RAW.

This year’s category winners featured kayaking, surfing, skating, cycling, and ice climbing. A panel of 52 experts selected the top 50 photos and eventual winners from thousands of entries. The two Instagram categories are judged by the public.

Emerging Category Winner. Gonzalo Robert Parraguez photographs kayaker Kilian Ivelic Astorga on the whitewater of Maipo, Chile.

Emerging category winner. Kayaker Kilian Ivelic Astorga negotiates a drop in Maipo, Chile. Photo: Gonzalo Robert Parraguez/Red Bull


Redbull released a full gallery of the images and will also put the winning images on display at events around the world.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.