The winners of the Red Bull Illume 2019 action sports photography contest have been announced, including the overall winner, 11 category winners, and top 60 finalist images. Ben Thouard (France / French Polynesia) was selected as the Overall Winner for his underwater image of surfer Ace Buchan in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Thouard was chosen by a jury of 50 photo editors and digital experts.
Canadian Rupert Walker won the Moving Image category for his shot of Brandon Semenuk and Ryan Howard riding down a slalom line in Paso Robles. Noah Wetzel (USA) was recognized for his photo of Chris Bule riding during a total solar eclipse in Teton Valley, Wyoming. To see all the winning images, check out the Red Bull Illume gallery.
Name: Ben Thouard
Country: France / French Polynesia
Social Media: IG : @benthouard / FB : @Ben.Thouard.Photography
Photographer: Ben Thouard / Red Bull Illume
Athlete: Ace Buchan
Location: Teahupo’o / Tahiti
Camera: Canon EOS 1DX mII
Lens: Canon 14mm
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
Ben now dedicates a lot of his time to shooting waves and ocean images that are displayed in art galleries.
Ben grew up in the south of France, his father was a sailor and taught him everything about the ocean. Coached by his older brothers, he quickly fell in love with surfing and spent as much time possible in the ocean. He discovered photography at the age of 15 and started shooting his friends that surfed. Ben studied in a photography school in Paris; he managed to achieve his dreams of travelling to Hawaii and shooting images. During the next couple of years, he travelled the world alongside professionals in search of photogenic landscapes and waves that have never been surfed before. At 22, he decided to move to Tahiti. Ben quickly made Teahupoo’s famous wave his backyard and his favorite place to shoot. In the last years, Ben has risen to the top of game, becoming one of the leading photographers based in the the tropical paradise called French Polynesia. Magazine covers, advertising campaigns, award winning images from the water and the surrounds has led to global success and acknowledgement from his peers and many happy clients worldwide. Finally, Ben now dedicates a lot of his time to shooting waves and ocean images that are displayed in art galleries. He recently released his first solo book, SURFACE, a 184-page hardcover, coffee-table book that includes some very new and unseen images.
I’ve dedicated the last few years to shooting underwater, looking for new angles and a new way to shoot surfing and waves. Shooting surfing from underwater is an whole new world and I love it! Tahiti has some of the clearest water in the world, so it was easy for me to take advantage of it and explore it as much as I could. This photo was shot during a freesurf session right before the WCT event in Teahupoo. This is Ace Buchan kicking out from the barrel through the wave, a technique to escape a close-out wave. Luckily I was right below, breathless with my waterhousing waiting for this moment and I was able to capture the whole sequence of it; this frame from the beginning of the sequence is the most powerful one because of the water around his face and body.