Students compete for spot in Millennium Park showcase

Three students (from left to right: Orel Chollette, Dolly Nyguen, and Liam Trumble) spent the weekend competing in the first Red Bull Illume Collegiate Workshop and Competition for a chance to have their photo shown in a Millennium Park showcase. 

By Campus Reporter

Three Columbia students competed alongside 15 students from other schools chosen nationwide, Sept. 10–12 in Chicago for a chance to have their photos featured at the Red Bull Illume stop at Millennium Park, in the first Red Bull Illume Collegiate Workshop and Competition.

Orel Chollette, a senior cinema art + science major; Dolly Nyguen, a senior television major; and Liam Trumble, a sophomore design and business & entrepreneurship double major were all chosen as contestants in the competition.

The students participated in activities sponsored by Red Bull throughout the weekend, leading up to a photo shoot with professional athletes. They also  received mentorship by Red Bull photographers who previously won the Red Bull Illume Global competitions in the past.

The students were chosen by being “movers” in the photography world at their school, or by being photographers looking to learn more about sports photography, according to a press release from Red Bull.

According to Trumble, he and the other two contestants stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and visited several locations on Saturday where they photographed the professional athletes.

Chollette said he was not aware of how distinguished the competition was at first.

“When they started saying they’re flying other people out from different states to come to Chicago, and they’re having this whole schedule, bringing all [of] these  professionals, I [thought], ‘This is a big deal,’” Chollette said.

This is the first year Red Bull let college students compete, though the Illume global competition is held every three years, according to Red Bull photographer and mentor Ryan Taylor.

According to the Red Bull press release, the purpose of the competition is creating potential Red Bull Illume Global winners.

The opportunity for people to learn from professionals is beneficial, Trumble said.

“I’m always loving it when corporations get behind any sort of art and give opportunities to youth,” Trumble said. “Even though it may seem like younger people have everything figured out, they always need that help and that little bit of a push.”

Taylor and two other judges, Red Bull photographers Christian Pondella and David Lehl, will pick the top three photos to be shown in Millennium Park.

The winning photos are also shown worldwide, according to Lehl. The Illume competitions are a traveling show that visit several cities around the world. For each showcase, the photos are displayed in seven-foot by seven-foot, illuminated cubes for the public to view.

When considering what makes a good photo, Taylor said he looks for technical ability and overall quality, but the biggest aspect is emotional impact.

“I’m looking for whatever is the most powerful, impactful [and] memorable image,” Taylor said. “Something that provokes emotion [and] gets the biggest reaction out of myself.”

Being able to display photos in a public setting is beneficial for photographers, Chollette said.

“I love when my photos are in the real world, not just staying on Instagram or my website. I love seeing it printed and out there,” Chollette said.

Students had to apply and be chosen for a chance to compete. Chollete said fellow competitor Nyguen encouraged him to apply.

Nyguen said she was nervous for the competition but saw it as a chance to challenge herself because she does not normally shoot sports photography.

Taylor said mentoring college students by participating in the competition is a refreshing and humbling experience for him.

“It’s always exciting to meet new, young talent and get a fresh eye on the industry,” Taylor said. “The younger individuals are always hungry and pushing themselves.”

When choosing the top three photos, Lehl said the main component he looks for is originality.

“Action photography can get a little stagnant,” Lehl said. “I’m looking for creativity and hoping to see something that hasn’t been done a million times.”

Chollette said this competition is an overall beneficial experience, and he hopes Red Bull continues this event in the future.

“The reward from this is just priceless,” Chollette said. “Even if I don’t win anything, I’m excited to be recognized.”