Christoph Laue is a professional freelance sports photographer from Stuttgart, Germany. His photos have been published in magazines all around the world and he has been a Red Bull Photo Competition Semi-Finalist four times previously. This is his first year as a finalist. Inspired by his daughter’s DIY kaleidoscope, he decided he needed to create a similar effect in a mountain biking shot. He got creative athlete Julian Clauss near his home in quite a unique and demanding set. We sat down with Christoph at the Red Bull Illume
Winner Awards Week in Solden
, Austria to catch up about his career and this year’s image that made the final.
Hey Chris, congrats on being a finalist! What got you into mountain biking in the first place?
Probably my brother, he was riding cross country about 20 years ago. I’ve always wanted to do what my older brother does, so that brought me to mountain biking. And after that, I kind of stopped for a bit. After two years or so I decided I needed a freeride bike. My first proper bike was a Trek Session 77, a proper bike. Before that I had a Steppenwolf Tycoon CR or something. I grew up riding near Stuttgart.
Amazing. And what got you into photography?
After a few years of doing graffiti and stuff, I got into graphic design more, which then brought me to photography.
Yeah, you can definitely see your graphic design background shine through in your photography. Did you start off by shooting mountain bikes?
Yes, my first shots were of mountain biking.
Nice, and how long ago was that?
I started with photography around sixteen years ago.
Are you self-taught?
No, I had three years of photography education. It was more commercial and studio work. That was pretty helpful to have more diverse skills.
What was your first camera?
My first camera that I bought for myself was a Nikon D200, and before that I had a Rolleicord old school camera that I got from my parents. I just experimented with film and then combined that with my Nikon. The Nikon alongside digital was really helpful to help get my exposures right on film.
No way, I shoot a lot of film. That's an awesome camera.
Yeah, but after a while my backpack got too heavy. You always need two digital cameras now in the backpack in case one dies. So, I started leaving the Rollei at home.
When did you start shooting professionally?
When I started photography education, I have got my first published pictures in Magazines. After the education I did a couple of jobs and work as an assistant. One year later after studying, I decide to make it my full time job.
Awesome. Now your entry - tell me about it. How did it come about?
It’s a place close to my home that I’ve been many times. It’s not a place you’d want to go often, you know it too well, it’s a bit messed up and not taken care of. Kind of random and neglected. After a while, I got a job to shoot there under the bridge for Loose Riders. And I thought, how am I going to make this interesting?
How did you get this effect with the triangular mirrors?
So, there are three mirrors duct taped together, and my friend Jochen - my assistant - was holding them. If you look through them it’s like a kaleidoscope. And then you have to figure out how the flash wouldn’t show up, because you can see everything. And then I brought the blue and red lights up for the lighting effect. Julian Clauss, did the run again and again. It took us probably around 20 times.
And after then, you knew that you’d got it?
Yeah, I knew it.
Check out Christoph's website and social media and follow along for some more incredible mountain bike photographs.
Should we do more of the Behind The Lens
series? Let us know in the comments below...
Christoph's winning photo from Photo Of The Year 2015