2021 Photo of the Year

Presented by


The
Who managed to take the perfect snapshot in time that deserves to be named “Best Photo” in the World of Kayaking for that current year.

[ Full Interviews with Top 5 Photo Finalists Featured Below ]

WINNER

Dave Wells

Rider | Cole Moore
Feature | Spirit Falls, Little White Salmon River, USA

1 DaveWells PhotoOTY ColeMooreThirtyftr

Whitewater Awards: Tell us about this image.. what inspired you to get this shot?
Dave Wells: There are not too many days when the river is above four feet and the sun is shining. I was paddling with some good friends, when I asked if I could bomb down ahead and snap some shots. Cole, Nate and Cody were all for it.

WA: What Camera you use? Settings?
DW: I used a Sony Alpha a7iii with a Sigma 24-70 f2.8 Art Lens @ f5.6 at 1/1250.

WA: When on kayak trips, what is the best way to carry your camera?
DW:  I always keep my camera in my old Ocoee Watershed bag, I trust nothing else.

WA: How long have you been taking photos? of kayaking?
DW: I have been taking photos for about fifteen years, I first started with 35mm and large format film photography and shifted to digital without access to a dark room.

WA: Is photography your profession? Do you have a favorite discipline of photography – action, portrait, landscape, etc?
DW: My interest in photography is simply an extension of myself, I really enjoy capturing kayaking, nature, landscape, and documentation. 

WA: Do you have a mentor or someone you draw inspiration from in photography?
DW: One photographer and friend I draw a lot of inspiration from is Davey O’hare, his images truly immerse the viewer in place all while having no fun or adventure creating the art.

WA: Where can we see more of your work?
DW:  My work can be seen on Instagram @davidwellsmedia.



• RUNNER UP •

John Webster

Rider | Alec Voorhees
Feature | Little Cedar, South Fork Clearwater River, USA

3 JohnWebster PhotoOTY AlecVoorheesLittleCedar

Whitewater Awards: Tell us about this image.. what inspired you to get this shot?
John Webster: Well first off what inspired me was seeing Alec’s brother, Hayden BOOOST off this wave days prior to snapping the shot you see here. It just so happened that Alec kept getting denied a good line off the wave, but finally found some air time the last day I was shooting in Golden Canyon. 

WA: What camera did you use? Settings?
JW: Canon EOS R w/ Canon EF 24-105 f4 shooting at 1/2500, f6.3, ISO 800 

WA: When on kayak trips, what is the best way to carry your camera?
JW: If I am on shore for sure taking my Dakine Sequence backpack, but if I am actually paddling, no question about it – Watershed. 

WA: How long have you been taking photos? of kayaking?
JW: Been taking photos for about 10-12 years, shooting tupperware for 10 years baby!

WA: Do you take photos other than kayaking? Do you have a favorite discipline of photography – action, portrait, landscape, etc?
JW: That I do! My usual disciplines are commercial, adventure, and landscape. I have always been a fan of capturing people, acting as a fly on the wall and shooting fun moments. Whether it be a reaction, a celebration, that stuff always brings me joy, I just captured a moment for the rest of time. 

WA: Is photography your profession?
JW: 24/7/365… slowly got off the top ramen diet and finally gained some income 🙂 

WA: Do you have a mentor or someone you draw inspiration from in photography?
JW: Everytime I submit to the RedBull Illume I always see something fresh and inspiring from the pool of winners from the contest. There’s a glossary of people who motivate me to grab shots, trust me. 

WA: Is there somewhere we can see more of your work?
JW: Hey whats up Youtube, go check out my work at webstermediahouse.com or you can follow me on IG @johnjwebster 

WA: One thing unique about you that not many people know..
JW: I have a third nipple. Talk about it. 



• THIRD PLACE •

Pedro Astorga

Riders | Kilian Ivelic, Pedro Astorga, Aniol Serrasolses
Feature | Rio Baker, Patagonia Chilena

PedroAstorga PhotoOTY RioBaker

Whitewater Awards: Tell us about this image.. what inspired you to get this shot?
Pedro Astorga: We were paddling this river every day… so the last day we took a moment on that rock because is the entrance to an epic rapid. We were ready to go! Like 3 warriors ready to go for it!

WA: What camera did you use?
PA: Mavic Air 2

WA: How long have you been taking photos? of kayaking?
PA: Maybe 5 years.

WA: When on kayak trips, what is the best way to carry your camera? Are you worried about durability or waterproofness?
PA: With a good protection and a good drybag, no problems!

WA: Who do you draw inspiration from in the photography world?
PA: Well, my father is a really good photographer. 

WA: Do you have a favorite discipline of photography? action, portrait, landscape, etc?
PA: Yes, I like landscapes.

WA: Where else can we see more of your photography?
PA: My instagram @pedroastorga.

WA: One thing unique about you that not many people know..
PA: I have a brewery 😉



• FOURTH PLACE •

Mike Dawson

Rider | George Snook
Feature | Tauranga Taupo Falls, Tauranga Taupo River, New Zealand

1 MikeDawson PhotoOTY GeorgeSnookTaurangataupo

Whitewater Awards: Tell us about this image.. what inspired you to get this shot?
Mike Dawson: Tauranga Taupo is a pretty epic drop — I was psyched to try and get this shot because I wanted to tag along with the young guns – George Snook and Zack Mutton – to see them fire up a big personal descent. And to shoot it on a sunny beautiful day was amazing —  it’s usually run on rainy dark days (as it needs extra flow). It’s such a beautiful spot on the edge of the Kaimanawa Forest Park, so really wanted to capture all of that in this shot.

WA: Where are you?
MD: The river is the Tauranga Taupo River, Central North Island. It’s about 2 hrs south of the Kaituna and a 2 hr walk in through some magical bush..

WA: What camera did you use? Settings?
MD: Shot on a Canon R5 with the Canon RF 24-105mm F4 L IS USM. Setting 1/2500 @f/4.0 ISO640

WA: When on kayak trips, what is the best way to carry your camera?
MD: I’ll alway role with my R5 + a Canon f2.8 70-200mm + Canon f2.8 15-35mm on the river. This basically helps me cover all the shots. If it’s a long mission, or tough on weight I’ll take a 24-105 f4.0 as it’s such a versatile lens for shooting whitewater (although sacrificing some light ability). A dry bag between the legs with a towel to keep the kit dry and it’s job done.

WA: How long have you been taking photos? of kayaking?
MD: Always been into photography, I guess I started to get more serious in 2010 when I got a 7D and a bunch of lens and started to try to document and tell some of the stories I was seeing on the river, as well as capture the trips we were lucky enough to go on!

WA: Do you take photos other than kayaking? Do you have a favorite discipline of photography – action, portrait, landscape, etc?
MD: Yip, lately I’ve been working a lot  shooting commercial outdoor products as well as other event and adventure editorial content. For me the camera is about telling the story – I love shooting projects so capturing the characters / the people, the place and whats at stake, and the action or why we’re out there.

WA: Do you have a mentor or someone you draw inspiration from in photography?
MD: Graeme Murray. He’s an epic NZ commercial photographer who is fully passionate about adventure sport. He shoots so many original and amazing shots that just blow your mind!

WA: Is photography your profession?
MD: Probably about 50% my profession. i’m super lucky to be able to do a bunch of different stuff for work and photography is a big part of that!.

WA: Where can we see more of your work?
MD: Most of my work is on my instagram, but stay tuned new web platform will be live soon.

WA: One thing unique about you that not many people know..
MD: Haha — Everyone knows everything is this world 😀



• FIFTH PLACE •

Paolo Avila

Rider | Aniol Serrasolses
Feature | Rio el Salto, Chile

2 PaoloAvila PhotoOTY RioSalto

Whitewater Awards: Tell us about this image.. what inspired you to get this shot?
Paolo Avila: I was inspired by, friendship, since Aniol a great person.

WA: Where are you?
PA: I took this image in Chile in the Aysen region, in the Cochrane commune, Rio el Salto.

WA: What Camera you use? Settings?
PA: I use a Nikon D4s, with 70-200mm f2.8 lens. Settings, speed 1/6800, f2.8 focus 200mm, ISO 50

WA: When on kayak trips, what is the best way to carry your camera?
PA: I carry my camera in the f-stop backpack, it is one of the most resistant and with a dry bag also.

WA: How long have you been taking photos? of kayaking?
PA: I’ve been doing photography for 7 years, professionally 4 years, and kayaking 2 years.

WA: Do you take photos other than kayaking? Do you have a favorite discipline of photography – action, portrait, landscape, etc?
PA: Yes I do take photos that are not kayaking, but I only take photos of sports and extreme environments. Yes, my favorite discipline is adventure / extreme sports / documentary.

WA: Who do you draw inspiration from in the photography world?
PA: Uff, complex to choose only one mentor. I have several to tell the truth, but the main one is Jimmy Chin. 

WA: Is photography your profession?
PA: Yes, I work in professional photography in extreme environments. I am an expert in survival and high mountains.

WA: Where can we see more of your work?
PA: On my instagram @paolophotojournalist

WA: One thing unique about you that not many people know..
PA: I dream of dying doing what I love the most, photographing unique moments in the most extreme places on the planet…

Whitewater Awards

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