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Watch: Episode 1 of Nigel Barker’s New Adorama Web Series ‘Top Photographer’

Yesterday (1st November) saw the release of the first episode of Nigel Barker’s new show in conjunction with Adorama – entitled Top Photographer. Released as a web series through Adorama’s YouTube channel, this is the first, 25-minute episode, and you can watch it right here!

The first challenge involves an action studio shoot with US Olympic Fencer Miles Chamley-Watson. What’s interesting about the format of this show is the eclectic mix of photographers, with several exclaiming straight-off that they rarely - or never - shoot studio ("I’m used to shooting pretty girls in moving dresses!").

Nigel deliberates with David Bergman and Ben Lyons

The five hopefuls must first select between shooting with the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. Aided by Nigel’s personal first assistant, Toby Sprague, they are then each given 30 minutes to shoot their subject, whilst their peers wait outside.

The episode covers everything from set-ups, lighting, and the importance of interaction with your subject. It’s interesting to see the different approaches each take, with some of the photographers getting stuck in right away, whilst one decides to spend the first 15 minutes setting up.

The photographers await their fate.

Interestingly, and unlike in Nigel’s previous foray "America’s Next Top Model," contestants seem to get to personally select their final image, but must display it in its raw form, with no additional post-processing. They then face Nigel and the guest judges (in this episode, sports photographer David Bergman and producer Ben Lyons), before a winner is announced and an elimination is made.


The contestants seem likeable, and rather importantly, it feels like this show can appeal to both the casual and professional photographer.

You can watch the very first episode below:

What were your thoughts on the show? Is it a winning format? 

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36 Comments
Nathan Dana's picture

I really wish they wouldn't force their show into the generic reality series model, cause I HATE that model with a passion, but the subject matter is interesting.

Deuce Bradshaw's picture

I absolutely agree!

That being said, and if it's not overly presumptuous, my friend and I are doing a series of photo challenges that are more about the photography side of it all: AYCDphoto on YouTube.

Percy Ortiz's picture

I second that... was quite enjoyable to watch except for the bits that reminded me too much of the unreality or a "reality show"

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Maybe I missed it, but were they all Canon shooters before this?

Jack Alexander's picture

They were all a mix I believe, not strictly Canon users.

Jay Jay's picture

It doesn't matter what camera they shot before, what matters (to the show) is the wonderful new cameras from their sponsor, Canon, that they must use. :)

Michael Kormos's picture

You may not realize how expensive it is to produce something like this. Co-sponsors with product placement like Canon are vital in making a web series such as this financially feasible for Adorama.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

I understand that. But it's not very realistic to assume the nations "top photographers" only shoot with one brand. My observation.

Victor Quintana's picture

I have to agree with Nathan, I love the idea of the show, but please don't follow that reality series model. I grown to hate so many shows like Top Chef, Chopped, etc. There are other more creative way to bring this show to life.

Henry Louey's picture

I quite like how they are handicapped with the use of Canon Bodies.

It's good to be able to see awesome images. Even with less that stella equipment ;)

Caleb Kerr's picture

Yaaaaaawn.

Alistair Thacker's picture

.

Christos Dikos's picture

Person that went first at major disadvantage as others had time to process the challenge and come up with a game plan.

Shauna Bass's picture

For this challenge it was the luck of the draw for who would have to go first. All contestants were given a few minutes before Andrew started shooting Miles to come up with their game plan. As David said in the show (spoiler alert) sometimes he is given little notice and a short window of time to shoot an athlete and still has to come out with that winning shot.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

America's next top model? +)

davidlovephotog's picture

Would be different if it was all beauty photogs shooting models but a street photographer usually captures events without throwing out direction. Same will be when they want a beauty photog to shoot something they can't direct. Might as well have a landscape photog shooting sports.

Jack Alexander's picture

This is something Nigel touched on in our interview - he believes the best photographers should be all rounders. Check it out here if you wish to hear more about it: https://fstoppers.com/originals/photographer-nigel-barker-reveals-more-a...

Nathan Dana's picture

Agreed, and one more reason not to follow the reality show, kick out people each round model. A photographer shouldn't be judged on one photo, but rather on a body of work.

Jay Jay's picture

I think you're missing the point of the show in that this is a contest with every episode requiring the photogs to shoot a scene which may or may not be completely out of their comfort zone- and to see how they handle it with the skills they already have. They're not being judged on their portfolio, but rather on their ability to make the shot the judges are looking for during that specific challenge.

davidlovephotog's picture

Which is not reality. They should keep them all in and then judge them based on all their pics throughout the season as a whole. Then they can judge how fast they learned or grew during the process rather than telling a rodeo clown they have 30 seconds to write a gangsta rap song.

Jay Jay's picture

It's reality set by their rules on how they want the show to run. But like every reality show format, one person leaves at the end of every episode. Sure, they should be judged on the sum total of all their photos, but this show was designed to be quick and easy to digest for the average watcher, not just specifically for photographers, who of course, are way more critical and judgmental by nature.

Nathan Dana's picture

Absolutely, but as stated above, I hate that format, and wish they had been a little creative. Especially since its online, and they don't need to deal with commercial breaks and specific time formatting.

jonas y's picture

Anyone disappointed by the contestants? I mean the only one that shows "telant" is that girl from CA.

Caleb Kerr's picture

I actually did think it was an odd choice of contestants. They all seem like very average / run of the mill photographers, which maybe was their goal. They wanted people to watch and be able to put themselves in their shoes. When I started it, I was hoping / expecting to see some people who are at least mid range professionals. When they do these reality-style cooking shows, they don't pull random people off the street who are like "yeah, I mean, I cook for our family but I'm not that great, I usually just make spaghetti." They get people who have some record of cooking professionally.

Shauna Bass's picture

Encourage you to look at their work on adorama.com/topphotographer they all have a unique photography style and beat out tens of thousands people who submitted their photos and portfolios. All of them have "some record" of shooting professionally. Many of the contestants, including Andrew, have shot major ad campaigns photographers only dream of getting so they have considerable talent and a unique style which set them apart.

PC B's picture

infuriating and uncreative... elimination reality show hogwash. this show will get worse and worse the fewer "contestants" they have. shoulda kept poor andrew kearns...

Rodney Turner's picture

Has any every watched VH1's The Shot back in 2007? It has a similar format, but more geared towards fashion photography.

Anjanette Arnold's picture

I loved that show and I wish they brought it back somehow. The work of the contestants of that show were MUCH, much more impressive. I get that the prizes on The Shot were much more appealing ($100,000 cash and a Victoria's Secret campaign), but still, with Nigel Barker hosting, I was expecting it to up to that caliber. The work of the Top Photographer contestants are not as impressive. Good, but not WOW! This photographer, Dean Zulich (http://www.deanzulich.com/), came in 2nd place on The Shot and his work is amazing!

Ho Wai Man's picture

This was hard to watch. These are the best photographers in the US? Top Photographer? More like "Top Hipster"

Alexis Cuarezma's picture

thanks for sharing. I had no idea it started. Enjoyed it and looking forward to the rest of the episodes.

Jay Jay's picture

While this show follow the same standard reality contest structure, i enjoyed it- it was fun, light, and enjoyable to watch. As a photographer who likes being forced to be creative in difficult situations, i liked seeing the contestants try to make the shot work with the skill they had with them.

I've seen the comments and complaints below, but this is a simple show that's easy to watch in the course of 25 min- some may even pick up some skills and tips by watching the successes and mistakes of these folks (like how important it is to connect with your model before the shoot). Cut it some slack on it's technical merits and enjoy it for what it is. :)

Tom Lew's picture

Anybody ever see Double Exposure on Bravo? Now THAT was entertainment!

Ralph Hightower's picture

It was interesting the picks of the 1Dx II and the 5D IV. I haven't worked with studio flashes, but with flashes, there is a recycle time and it seems that one wouldn't be able to use the blazing fast 14 FPS of the 1Dx.

Fencing is motion. What if one had used multiple exposure with multiple flash firings to freeze the action? I don't know if that's possible with the strobes used.

Allen Reid's picture

I thought the show was very well produced, both the way it was shot and edit. Would love to see a BTS of the show itself. That said, I thought the other guy should have been eliminated for his under exposed shot.

Joe Schmitt's picture

Ok, so that wasn't as bad as I thought. The one thing to take away from this here is that you HAVE to have a relationship with the talent. All of these photographers were timid and nobody was really directing the talent. Most people don't like their picture being taken, but when it's a fun process, they open up wide for the camera.

paul aparycki's picture

I am ashamed to say that I actually watched the entire video. It is nothing more than wankers paradise.

I USED to shop at Adorama, . . . no more.

For nearly twenty five years I have used Profoto gear with great pleasure, and a sense of assurdness.

After this load of mastubatory tripe, I am going to the nearest hardware store to get some black paint and then cover up ALL of my flash equipments shame.

What a load of diarrhea this "show" is.