The Red Bull X-Alps is the world’s toughest adventure race. It’s a bold claim – but one it surely deserves. It’s difficult to think of another race that demands such a high level of fitness and technical skill – or lasts so long.
That also implies that photographing such an event is special in many ways. Photographers that follow this race have to be well trained and fit enough to run up and down mountains with heavy load. In an ideal case they are also able to fly a glider to chase the athletes even in the air for some unique angles and documentary.
The photography team for this event consisted of 6 (partly even 8) photographers in total and everybody assigned with a special task. In my case I was spending 4 days of shooting with the athletes from the week before the race until the actual start and first peak and take off.
For such a big event there are usually preshoots to produce content that will be used in the communication before, throughout and after the event, not only by media but also for sponsors and commercial purposes. Therefore the tasks can vary big time from simple documentation of details to commercial shots.
In my case I was assigned to take similar head shots of each athlete before the race to have consistent images on the website, for communication or in media. Since athletes in this period before the race are tough to get hold off I built a small light set with my Move and Para 88 within the camping site of the athletes and just grabbed them as they passed along.
I was also shooting a helicopter flight to get news shots of Red Bull X-Alps in connection with well known monuments in Slazburg.We had two athletes with us in the helicopter and they actually jumped out above the most recognizable sight which is the castle „Festung Hohensalzburg“. After that they flew across the old town and performed crazy tricks to get even more appealing action in the shots.
Moreover I was assigned for documentation of the start and the prologue which was a prerace before the actual start. In order to do a good job there you have to be active and get different angles that tell the story but also incorporate all the necessary sponsors in a natural way. That means you have to run and hike a lot and mostly switch fast between two cameras all the time. There are many things on your shotlist to think about that sometimes it can limit you in your creativity but also this is also a good challenge and makes you really focused at the same time. Crucial for event documentation is the delivery and workflow after the event. Of course everything also in high end quality and perfect metadata. Usually within one hour after the event has ended you should be able to deliver a handful of shots perfectly processed and with flawless metadata.
Shooting Red Bull X-Alps was a great experience for me and to be close in at such a cool event with those amazing athletes can not get any better. The spirit of this event is very unique and it truly is an adventure also for the photographers joining in this race. Moving and living and breathing nature in and out and giving your best everyday to the full extend makes this event special. Also you never know where you end up at the beginning of the day – it could very well be the top of a mountain, running through the woods at night or soaring through the air…. for sure you’ll face some kind of adventure.
More BLOG post about Sports Photographer Markus Berger:
Shooting Editorial Sports and Commercial Photography – Case: Airstreeem
The other Look with UV light – Ice Climbing Shoot with Markus Berger
Easy handling and fast recycling times – Move, “Colours” & Marcel Hirscher
Markus Berger creates multiple looks with Beauty Dish and Move
About Markus Berger
I am a photographer from Austria specialized in action sports and commercial Photography. I have a sports freestyle background and like to bring that into photography. I strive to capture images that are creative but at the same time authentic and true. I like to embrace my inner child and take every shoot as new exciting challenge.