The Illume Effect: Jody MacDonald

In a brand-new series leading up to 2016 Red Bull Illume, organizers sit down with notable former finalists and photographers to find out more about the impact the contest has had on their careers. First up is adventure sport photographer Jody MacDonald, who had two images in the Top 50 and another in the Top 250 in 2013. Here’s what she had to say:

Has Red Bull Illume made any difference to your career?
“The great thing about Red Bull Illume is that it validates you as a professional photographer to the outside world. People definitely perceive you more as a professional and because of that you’re simply more inclined to get more work.”


Did you get more assignments?
“I would most definitely say it did! It gave me a lot more exposure. I did a lot of interviews and it got more people interested in featuring my work. But what it really does? It catapults your photography into the mainstream in a way that’s hard to do otherwise. Red Bull has such a broach reach.”

Can you give an example?
“It’s not a quantifiable thing but Red Bull Illume has definitely had something to do with a couple of projects I’m working on, including a trip I’m about to go on.”

Tell us more…
“I can’t! I signed an NDA but it’s a trip in Africa.”


What’s your view on Red Bull Illume photography as a whole?
“I’m a photographer. It’s candy for me! Over the years the caliber has gone up and up. It’s the best of the best.”

So will you enter again?
“Yes. I have one image that I know for sure I’ll submit.”

What’s the secret to an image doing well?
“It has to be well thought through. It can’t just be a lucky shot, that percentage is so small now. It has to be one of the best shots of your entire career! It’s like that quote; ‘you’re lucky if you take 10 great shots in your lifetime’. Those are the ones that go into Red Bull Illume.”


Lastly, what’s your own favorite image?
“That one where you got to see the whole dune. That photo encapsulates that whole experience in Mozambique. I love the colors, and it has a bit of meaning for me.”

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