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Documenting the Red Bull King of the Air 2022 in Cape Town through Photography

Imagine the rush of capturing athletes defying gravity, soaring through the air, and performing tricks that leave you breathless! That was my reality at the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town. A camera in hand, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping...and the world's most daring kiteboarders in front of me.This event, the biggest in kite surfing big air competition, is an unforgettable scene of bravery and talent. It's more than a competition, it's a spectacle of human potential. I'm excited to share my journey documenting the Red Bull King of the Air 2022, where the extraordinary becomes the norm and the sky is not the limit!


Kitesurf photographer in Cape Town. Kite beach is windy, cold and sandy
Kitesurf photography in mid summer during the King of the Air. The wind is nuking and the sand is flying.

As a photographer, I have had the privilege of capturing various extreme sports events around the world. But nothing quite compares to the exhilarating experience of shooting at the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town. Known as the biggest kite surfing big air competition in the world, this event showcases the awe-inspiring talent of kiteboarders who push the limits of gravity and perform jaw-dropping tricks in the air. In this article, I will recount my unforgettable journey documenting the Red Bull King of the Air 2022 through the lens of my camera.


What makes the Red Bull King of the Air the biggest kite surfing big air competition in the world?


The Red Bull King of the Air is renowned for its grandeur and the incredible spectacle it offers. With its unique format and high level of difficulty, it attracts the most skilled kiteboarders from across the globe. The competition takes place in Cape Town, South Africa, a location known for its epic wind and wave conditions. The combination of strong winds, reaching up to 50 knots, and the breathtaking natural landscape provides the perfect canvas for these athletes to showcase their skills.


Cape Town delivered epic conditions with winds up to 50 knots and the riders were reaching new levels with their jumps/tricks


Cape Town, with its iconic Table Mountain and stunning coastline, sets the stage for a truly remarkable event. The wind conditions are unparalleled, with gusts reaching up to 50 knots. This extreme wind allows the kiteboarders to achieve incredible heights and perform gravity-defying tricks. As a photographer, it was both awe-inspiring and challenging to capture these moments of pure adrenaline as the riders soared through the air, executing flips, spins, and grabs with precision and grace.


Kite surfer Josh Emanuel at the Red Bull King of the Air 2022. Photographer at Kite Beach Cape Town
Josh Emanuel battling the elements during the Red Bull King of the Air 2022


The thrill of shooting at the Red Bull King of the Air 2022


Shooting the Red Bull King of the Air was an absolute thrill. The atmosphere was electric, with the crowd cheering on the athletes and the sound of crashing waves filling the air. As a photographer, I had a front-row seat to the action, positioned on the beach with my camera ready to capture the perfect shot. The rush of adrenaline coursed through my veins as I anticipated the next jaw-dropping jump or mind-boggling trick. The challenge was not only to freeze these moments of intense action but also to convey the sheer power and skill of the athletes through my photographs.


Challenges faced by photographers at the event


While shooting the King of the Air sounds awesome and enjoyable, it definitely presents its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to the wind and sand. The strong gusts of wind can make it difficult to maintain stability while shooting, making it crucial to find a sturdy position or use equipment like tripods to minimize camera shake. Additionally, the fine sand carried by the wind can be a hazard for both the photographer and the equipment. It's important to protect the gear from sand particles that can cause damage to the delicate camera mechanisms.



Kite surfer Josh Emanuel during the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town Kite Beach
Josh Emanuel during the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town

How to protect your camera gear from the elements in Cape Town


Protecting your camera gear from the elements in Cape Town is essential to ensure its longevity and performance. Here are a few tips to help you keep your equipment safe:

  1. Use a protective cover: Invest in a weather-sealed camera body and lens, or use a protective cover specifically designed for kitesurf photography. This will shield your gear from the sand and saltwater that are common in Cape Town.

  2. Clean your gear regularly: Make it a habit to clean your camera and lenses after every shoot. Use a blower brush to remove any sand or debris, and gently wipe the lens with a microfiber cloth. This will prevent scratches and keep your gear in top condition.

  3. Store your gear properly: When you're not using your camera, store it in a sealed bag or camera case to protect it from dust, sand, and moisture. Avoid leaving your gear exposed to the elements for prolonged periods of time.

  4. Be mindful of temperature changes: Rapid temperature changes can cause condensation to form on your camera and lenses, potentially damaging them. Allow your gear to acclimate to the temperature before using it, and consider using a camera bag with moisture-absorbing packets to prevent condensation.


Editing photos in between the shoots: Managing time effectively


During an event as fast-paced as the Red Bull King of the Air, time management is crucial, especially when it comes to editing photos. With limited breaks between the shoots, it is important to make the most of the downtime to review and edit your images. Prioritize the selection and editing of your best shots, ensuring that you maintain the quality and consistency of your work. Utilize efficient editing techniques and presets to speed up your workflow and maximize your productivity.


Kite surfer in Cape Town in front of Table mountain. Photo is capturing him jumping high
Red Bull King of the Air #10 - one for the books!

Conclusion: An unforgettable experience capturing the Red Bull King of the Air 2022 in Cape Town through photography


Capturing the Red Bull King of the Air 2022 in Cape Town was an experience that will stay with me forever. The combination of the awe-inspiring talent of the kiteboarders, the epic conditions in Cape Town, and the challenges faced by photographers created a unique and unforgettable event. Despite the difficulties posed by the wind and sand, being able to freeze those moments of pure adrenaline and showcase the skill and artistry of the athletes through my photographs was incredibly rewarding. If you have the opportunity to shoot the Red Bull King of the Air, I highly recommend it. Just be prepared for the thrill, the challenges, and the unforgettable memories it will bring.


 

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For me watersports photography and videography, like kitesurfing, surfing and windsurfing, is the perfect mix of creation and action. With my marketing background and as a passionate photographer and videographer I´ll help you to set up your next marketing campaign and reach your brand goals.

With a specialized focus on outdoor photography and videography, my passion lies in capturing the exhilarating world of watersports like kitesurfing, surfing and windsurfing.

Cape Town based photographer and videographer focusing on kitesurfing. Content creator and marketing agency.