It started with 28,257 images submitted by 6,417 photographers from 124 countries.
Eventually a panel of renowned photo editors from around the globe cut those down to 250, and then 50, which were unveiled last week at the Red Bull Illume Image Quest awards ceremony in Hong Kong.
Holding it down for surf was Zak Noyle, Morgan Maassen, and Chris Burkard, who all took category wins, while Tasmanian (and long time SURFING contributor) Stu Gibson also had a pair of finalist images.
I was lucky enough to have one of my photos chosen to make the finals in the Lifestyle category. An image of Kelly Slater walking down for his heat in Huntington Beach that was shot for a big US Open feature we had planned for SURFING, but never ended up seeing the light of day. Now it will sit alongside the other 49 selections and light up the night at multiple venues as Red Bull Illume tours around the world. I couldn't be more psyched.
The biggest bonus was not being invited to Hong Kong and put up at the W Hotel, or riding in a pirate ship over to the awards, but spending time in the presence of so many incredible image makers from every kind of action and adventure sport you can name. People like Scott Serfas, Christian Pondella, Lorenz Holder etc… Everyone in attendance is amazing at what they do and a huge inspiration so many sets of eyeballs.
You can check out the full gallery and vote on your favorite shot for the People's Choice Award here: