As I write this we are 3 episodes into the second series of master of photography on Sky Arts. I loved the first series so was really looking forward to the new one.
I have to say so far I have not been disappointed! The format has changed slightly, with more emphasis on technique and the process the contestants go through to achieve their assignment.
They have removed the part where the contestants pick their equipment, and this seems mainly down to the sponsorship deal with Leica. That’s fine by me as most of us don’t have a room full of equipment to choose from before we go out on a shoot. So, you might ask, why does that matter what equipment I have compared to the contestants? For me that is why the show works so well. As they go on assignment you put yourself in their shoes. What would I do? what story would I tell? Then as they present their images to the judges, I become a judge in my mind deciding who I would pick and why.
Photography is an art form, and like all art it is very subjective. Last season I found the judges critique a little harsh, however, this season I understand where they are coming from. I’m not sure whether they have eased up or whether I’ve opened my mind to criticism more. Either way, so far I have mainly agreed with their comments.
OK here I should add **SPOILER ALERT** please do not read on if you intend to watch the series without knowing the winners from each episode!
Week one saw an amazing image by Molly Keane grab the attention of the judges. I had to agree whole heartedly with this decision. The theme was travel and they contestants had to encapsulate the feel of Sicily. Molly captured a portrait of a sicilian painter sat next to the chariots he was painting. The image worked so well capturing a sense of the country and was beautifully composed.
In week two the contestants had to capture “rush hour” in Hamburg. There were a number of images that caught my eye – managing to get a real sense of rush hour, particularly as they were thrown by the lack of commuters as they arrived. The one that was the judges favourite was by Max Brucker and I did agree that his image evoked a certain mood. I also really liked the image by Sonja Thoms which showed a man in silhouette running up some steps, which on this occasion was not in agreement with the judges!
Week three saw them introduced to Clive Owen where they were expected to produce a cover photo which truly revealed the personality of the superstar. It was an interesting episode where I found the judges to be even more critical than usual. There was some criticism on the over reliance of post production on the image that Sonja Thoms produced. I did agree it was not as strong as some of the other contestants, but to pull her up over the use of post production seemed a little odd to me, when all the images have benefited from the use of post. The winning image this week was again produced by Max Brucker who is showing himself to be a favourite at this early stage. It was a very striking image that I could imaging on the cover of a magazine, and probably the only one to truly meet this brief.
At this stage I think there are three strong contenders for the prize. For me the most interesting and original images are being produced by Molly Keane, Max Brucker and Olympe Tits. I look forwards to seeing what the rest of the episodes reveal.
If you have missed the series so far, I highly recommend that you catch up with the previous episodes here. It is compulsive viewing.