UPDATE 8 October: The first u2018reality showu2019 for photographers is set to be produced next spring, with the nine-part series winning backing from the Royal Photographic Society (RPS).
[NEWS UPDATE 8 October: AP understands that the application process for potential contestants will open on 31 October and close 90 days later. The project has won support from a major professional camera equipment maker, which has pledged to provide hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of gear for the show]
Executive producers Back to Front TV is set to put the call out to keen photographers ‘across any level of skill’ who want to take part.
Photographers will be asked to submit their best image and describe their motivation for taking part in the series.
Programme makers hope the project will ‘inspire a new generation of photographers’.
Back to Front TV said in a statement: ‘Each episode will be produced into an educational and thrilling challenge for contestant and audience alike.’
The firm’s principal Haider Mannan added: ‘This is a creative first for Britain and we are wholeheartedly committed to supporting the Society’s endeavours of promoting photography.
‘We hope this collaboration will deliver tremendous value for the creative arts in Britain through the contemporary medium of photography.’
The series will be fronted by a ‘respected photographer’, according to RPS director general Michael Pritchard.
The main presenter, whose name is being kept secret until next week, will be a Vogue photographer with a face for TV, according to the show’s creator Haider Mannan.
In an interview with Amateur Photographer (AP), Mannan – who
has a background in private equity and is a keen photographer
– described photography as an ‘up-trending activity’ in a world where
smartphones have made everyone a photographer.
The show, which carries the working title Back to Front, will be ‘fashion’ based, he said.
Its creators, though, are reluctant to use the word ‘fashion’ saying it is a ‘flatpack’ term.
‘The genre is “fashion” but we want to use “style”, as this is more refined,’ said Mannan, adding that this term reflects the work of ‘pioneering photographers’.
‘Britain is the global capital of fashion and, in our opinion, fashion photography,’ he told AP.
Open to all
Mannan explained that the UK-based show will be open to all levels of photographer, from beginner to professional.
‘We would like to make this accessible to everyone in Britain, whether they [take photos with] an iPhone or a [professional] Phase One medium-format camera.’
There will be 11 contestants, plus a ‘wildcard’ entrant who might be a celebrity, Mannan hinted.
Shortlisted applicants will be asked to attend a workshop where they will use a ‘very high-end’ medium-format camera and gain experience in lighting and other equipment.
There will be no target age range for selected applicants in the quest to find ‘Britain’s next best photographer’, according to Mannan.
Each week there will be two mentors and contestants will be briefed about the task ahead, having been shown an ‘iconic’ image related to the challenge.
Their images will be assessed by three judges on a ‘blind judging’ basis.
Three contestants will vie for top spot in the final episode and the winner will have their image published on the cover of an ‘internationally acclaimed magazine’ and have their work showcased, for a month, at a leading gallery.
Mannan said his favourite medium is film because it ‘captures the pure charm and true essence of photography’.
He explained that the show’s technical director is a leading advertising photographer.
Mannan, who has an interest in architectural photography and was raised in Zimbabwe, said the RPS is backing the show through marketing promotions and by staging lectures, for example, but is not supporting it financially.
Mannan pointed out the Society’s 11,000 members are all potential contestants.
It has not yet been revealed which TV channel will broadcast the show.
Potential contestants will be sought towards the end of October.
The series is due to be broadcast in mid-late summer 2014.
Further details, including how photographers can apply, will follow over coming weeks.