SURFER Photog Chris Burkard Wins the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest

| posted on September 01, 2010
SURFER's Chris Burkard can the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest Award to his already long list of accomplishments. Photo: Kew. Photo: kew

SURFER's Chris Burkard can now add the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest Award to his long list of accomplishments. Photo: Kew.

To many of us, it was inevitable. To the victor, it was unbelievable. Last night in Dublin, Ireland, before 53 international judges and 50 nervous finalists, SURFER staff photographer Chris Burkard, 24, bested nearly 5,000 photographers and 22,763 photographs to at last be hoisted onto the shoulders of the collective action-sports photo world.

The image that crowned Burkard the Overall Winner of the 2010 Red Bull Illume Image Quest was a moody, backlit photo of Peter Mendia getting piped in a backwashy Chilean point wave. The image was created in April 2009, just one day before Burkard lost all his new photo equipment to a drunken Chilean boat driver who made a wrong turn. The camera and lens he used for the Mendia shot is likely still on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Ironically, Burkard won $38,000 worth of Leica camera gear for his triumph. He also bagged 20 SanDisk 64GB Extreme Pro flash memory cards and a Lowepro ProRunner x450 AW camera bag.

“I’m speechless,” he told SURFER immediately following the award ceremony. “Out of all these amazing photographers and the thousands of images that each could have won, I can’t believe it was my shot that took the whole thing. I’m really blessed to be surrounded by such inspirational people.”


Burkard's winning image of Peter Mendia in Chile. Photo: Burkard

“I thought the pictures were fantastic—every one of them was a difficult choice,” Red Bull Illume judge Alan Sparrow said. “It was hard to make a decision between the ones that won and the ones that didn’t. The defining line between them was really close.”

Close enough for Burkard, who’s still in a bit of shock.

“Unbelieveable,” he said, grinning. “But it’s a total honor.”

—Michael Kew

  • Joel Patterson

    Congrats Burky! That’s a SURFER Staff Photog…only the best.

  • http://DAKINE Douglas Avery

    if one of us succeeds, we all do

  • Editor

    So the real question is…. why didn’t this image ever make into the mag?

  • Dalton

    mmmmmm….. i luv chili.

  • David Greenall

    Way to go Chris! You are an awesome photographer with a great eye.

  • Sand Sock Girl

    Bravo! You are a fantastic photographer Chris. And very keen to small details…

  • Irie Bro

    the shot wasn’t in surfer cuz it was a trip for surfline and they owned the image rights

  • chris burkard

    …. owned image rights…. To publish online.

  • Joel Patterson

    Because it was such a memorable shot on Surfline, and because the Journal was quick to pick it for a cover, it wasn’t really an option for SURFER. But there will be more gems where that one came from.