Local photographer wins Red Bull Illume award 

Scott Serfas' snowboard shot ruled best in 'Illumination' category

click to enlarge PHOTO BY SCOTT SERFAS - perfect shot Scott Serfas scooped up an award for his photo of Travis Rice at the Red Bull Illume awards in Hong Kong last month.
  • Photo by Scott Serfas
  • perfect shot Scott Serfas scooped up an award for his photo of Travis Rice at the Red Bull Illume awards in Hong Kong last month.

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Serfas said the win was a highlight of a career that spans more than two decades. The prizes were cool — including a six-kilogram glass trophy and high-end photography gear — but it was the recognition, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with top action sports photographers that made the trip priceless.

Serfas's beginnings were considerably more humble, starting as a high schooler snapping shots of his friends while snowboarding around Whistler and the Lower Mainland. He never dreamed it would become his career.

"It was a hobby for me, and the idea of it becoming a profession never crossed my mind," he says. "Then in the early '90s snowboarding started to get a little bit bigger and there was a brand in Vancouver called Never Board. They later became Option, but at the time they told me that if I had taken a few of my pictures on slide film they would buy a few shots from me and put them in their catalogue.

"My first question was, 'what's slide film?' because I was just buying the regular cheap stuff at the drug store. So I started buying slide film and it took me a while to figure out how to shoot it and expose it properly, but a few months later I had an ad in Transworld Snowboarding with Never Board, and shots for their catalogue."

That was in 1992, and things started to pick up from there. Serfas also started shooting for Vancouver-based Concrete Powder magazine, which he says helped to launch his career long before the big magazines knew his name.

Serfas is based in Vancouver, but has spent a lot of time living in Whistler over the years. At one point he was living in his van in the underground at the Whistler Conference Centre on weekends, something he managed to get away with for months before he was noticed and kicked out.

"It was always from Friday after school until Sunday night, eating canned beans and Ramen noodles," he says. "It was all about being a bum back then, because I spent all my money on a season's pass."

Serfas has branched out from snowboarding to shoot other sports as well, notably surfing, skateboarding and mountain biking. He's already bagged one mountain bike shot he plans to enter in the next Red Bull Illume in 2016 — a shot of Whistler's Brandon Semenuk.

To look at other finalists and award winners from Red Bull Illume, visit RedBullIllume.com.

Scott Serfas' web page is ScottSerfas.com.

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