Top Photographer with Nigel Barker [Adorama] – Review


Nigel Barker had produced a show with Adorama called “Top Photographer”.

I’m sure if he could legally get away with it, the show would have been called “America’s Next Top Photographer”.

Nigel Barker was a judge on the hit TV series “America’s Next Top Model” and this shows format is very similar to that show.

The winner of Season 1 would be awarded with $50k worth of photography goodies, along with an exhibition hosted by Nigel Barker.

Without a doubt, this is a prize any photographer would love to have and if the show were available to me to compete in, I would definitely want to give it a shot. (no pun intended)


The shows format is based off various tasks and eliminations per week.

Nigel states that the contestants will be judged on their technical ability and ‘their eye’.

The first weeks task was an action sports portrait, second week was fashion, third landscape, and final week was ‘shoot whatever they want’.

To begin with there were 5 contestants and by week 4 it’s one on one.


If you haven’t seen the show for yourself, please do go watch all the episodes before proceeding with this review to avoid spoilers.

Click Here for Adorama’s Playlist for ‘Top Photographer’

Having watched all the episodes, I am actually disappointed with the show.

It had great potential, but I personally did not like the show as much as I wanted too.


In week 3, one contestant shot in JPG. For a landscape shoot, there is no doubt in my mind that ‘technical’ aspects should tell you to be in RAW, so this should have been taken into serious account with scoring.

My biggest gripe with the show is the elimination process!

I find this process highly unfair!

Contestants are not given equal ground to compete against. Some contestants came from a Travel Photography Background, others Fashion and Portraits.

Yet, each task per week was varied.

I personally shoot various genres, excluding fashion! So by week 2 I definitely would have been gone!

However Landscapes is what I excel at and I would have destroyed that task with ease. Yet, I would not have survived to see that challenge given my weakness in fashion.

There was a moment where the make-up artist wanted guidance from the photographer with regards to a ‘look’, that’s way beyond me as a photographer as I could not define any make-up ‘looks’ to inspire the make-up artist!

As an analogy, it’s like looking for the World’s Top Athlete and then pitting up Conor McGregor up against Usain Bolt. Then the first week is 100m sprint but the 3rd week would be mixed martial arts (MMA).

Conor McGregor wouldn’t have even gotten to the third week as Usain Bolt definitely would have won in week 1.

In week 4 one of the contestants also got to use an assistant because they won the week 3 task, this gives that same contestant an advantage!

So although that contestant lost that round, she had potential to do much better because she won the previous task. If anyone should have gotten an assistant it should have been the other contestant in my eyes, but in reality, neither should have been given an advantage over the other like that.


I like what the show attempted, but very disappointed in the execution.

I don’t feel there should be eliminations each week as it does not allow for the photographers to be challenged in the various genres of photography. If they are searching for a photographer with a broad set of skills, then they should allow all 5 contestants to remain throughout the task and merely score points to nominate winners and losers each week. This would also give the viewers a chance to connect with each contestant a bit more.

Likewise they should also score based off technical as well as ‘eye’. Are they using optimal settings to achieve great exposure, are they composing correctly etc. But of course, also score on the artistic nature of their work.

Another idea would for this show to be divided up into sub-categories and that they look for “Top Fashion Photographer” or “Top Landscape Photographer”.

Any photographer out there who tries other genres of photography should be able to vouch for the fact that each genre does require a particular set of skills and a particular eye. So for this show looking for a ‘Master Of All’ I feel somewhat cheapens photography.

I do hope for season 2, if it does come to light, that they do address the unfair format and level out the playing field.

Otherwise I do like their goal, I just didn’t like their execution!


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