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Behind The Lens: Christoph Laue

Nov 29, 2023 at 7:33
by Christie Fitzpatrick  

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.

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2023 - RAW Finalist
This incredible image is what earned Chris a place as a finalist in the RAW category at this year's Red Bull Illume Image Quest

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.

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 - Masterpiece by Yodobashi Semi-finalist

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.

Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2019 - Innovation Semi-finalist

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...

This image got Christoph though to the Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2013 Semi Final

It s all about the moment in sport photography - Photo Christoph Laue
Christoph's winning photo from Photo Of The Year 2015.

Photo Christoph Laue
Vintage Christoph from when we interviewed him in 2012.

Author Info:
christiefitz avatar

Member since May 21, 2017
109 articles

  • 58 1
 Yes, please more "Behind the Lens" series.
And by the way bring back POD and "photo of the year" contest Smile
Photographers deserve more articles since social medias are encouraging more and more video content.
  • 11 0
 Imo Photo of the year needed to change slightly as it always felt like they were judged on the riding in the photo, and not the photograph itself, if that makes sense. I also always wondered if a different picture would win if it was a "select your 1 favourite photo" (with running results hidden until the poll closed) rather than the knock out voting we did.
  • 12 0
 Chris is a great guy,
did several brand initiated, anual "catalogue" shootings with him.
100% dedicated hard worker, with great results.
Still remember that one shoot 7 years ago, where he got hurt on first or second shooing day, saying "it's ok, not too bad, don't worry, all good", shooting for 6 more days, to then tell me: "went to hospital after the shooting. Was bit more bad than thought". He is a tough, hard as nails guy making things possible.
THANK YOU CHRIS for your dedication!
  • 3 0
 Thanks Basti for your kind words!
  • 8 0
PB is not as cool as it once used to be...
  • 1 4
 Seriously, who wants to read about the nerdy photographers?

@Loamaddict gets it. PB should do an article on him. He sounds cool.
  • 4 0
 Christopher, your photo of the year from 2015 gives me a cool, happy, jumping into the unknown feeling. Hadn't seen it before.
  • 4 0
 We definitely need more Behind the Lense articles.
  • 4 1
 It was amazing and awesome.
  • 2 0
 Awesome comment.
  • 2 0
  • 2 2
 Very cool, though tboise composites are more art than photography
  • 5 0
 Which composite? The pic with the earth is definitely a plastic/inflatable globe they brought out into the desert or wherever that pic was taken.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, when you are shooting for an ad or article, you compose it with a vision of what you want to achieve. Much different than shooting an event. Nothing wrong with that.
  • 1 0
 @PtDiddy: yes I do the same job for a living
  • 5 0
 thanks :-) There aren't any composites photos in this gallery.
  • 1 0
 @Laue: damn I saw the moon shot and just figured there was some other buggery going on. Looks great, would love to see some of your film work.
  • 1 1
 @dimag333: I would have mistaken you for an average reditor.
  • 1 0
 @PtDiddy: the gutter of the internet!
  • 1 0
 @Laue: and just to be clear, that was posed as a compliment not a slight!
  • 1 0
 @dimag333: is this posed as compliment too?
  • 1 0
 @PtDiddy: ok brah, have a great day!
  • 1 0
 Keep ‘em coming
  • 1 0
 Amazing images.

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