Winners? For they are all Winners: A review of “The Great British Photography Challenge.” Something different from the BBC that provides Escapism.

Escapism from “a fractured and damaged world intertwined with constant bad news” is all that we need, and whilst the majority of television channels are filled with either drama about crime or thrillers, yet when a program about art comes on the television, which these days is “few and far between,” you just know that perhaps it will contain some form of escapism — even if it is on for an hour. I had turned on the Television one evening and came across something on BBC 4, now BBC 4 is a BBC Channel that remains something of an undiscovered gem, think of it as “The BBC equivalent to Sky Arts” and generally you end up getting the picture, whilst Sky Arts has “Portrait Artist of The Year” and “Landscape Artist of The Year.” Rarely does any arts channel show any content surrounding photography. Yet this particular evening I had stumbled on a program called “The Great British Photography Challenge” and it goes without saying that instantly I became a little bit entwined with this fantastic program. But you might be asking or indeed wondering what it is about. Well after I had watched the first episode, I noticed that immediately it had a similar style and format as A). Portrait Artist of The Year and B). Landscape Artist of The Year, a group of like minded photographers of all ages, ranges and sex are the contestants and they of course are given a maximum of three assignments to carry out, in the first episode that I saw the three assignments were as follows,

Assignment — The Smartphone Challenge, a challenge that was interesting, the contestants had to take photos “By the Beach” in Brighton with their smartphones, something which without saying was an interesting challenge and even more interesting was how “By the Beach” was interpreted.

Masterclass — In this section of the program, the contestants met up with Chris Packham, Chris himself is a fantastic Wildlife Photographer and here the contestants were challenged to take wildlife and nature photos.

Final Challenge — Here the contestants were challenged to take portraits of a celebrity, without placing any spoilers it is the final challenges that are designed to push the contestants boundaries and the portrait one sure did that.

Just who is mentoring the contestants in the series? Well that is none other than “Rankin.” Rankin himself is one of the most prolific photographers within The UK, and has captured portraits and other high end photographs for advertising and media across the world. And yes for such a fantastic mentor it goes without saying that Rankin, has a fantastic dry sense of humour. Of course though as the series progresses we are introduced to the contestants, each of whom knows about photography yet this though is a masterclass that at the end will produce one winner? Or will it.

Of course though for the contestants they all have photographic skills and knowledge, yet who were the contestants. Perhaps we should meet them.

Tyrone Williams — Hailing from Northampton, Tyrone has a unique take on photography, and over the series we see him progress and go from strength to strength, his photography is “different to say the least” with unusual angles and perspectives of things within the Environment that communicate, but is Tyrone a photographer or an Artist?

Chelsea Nawanga — From Luton, Chelsea is not afraid to jump into any challenges she is faced with. Lively and eager to learn, her photography is all about portraits that have an impact and tell a story. Throughout the series Chelsea comes out of her box, and her work is sheer magic.

Ali Lewis — Escapism within photography is what Ali Lewis, manages to capture, and she is from Shrewsbury; her photography is all about finding escapism within the landscape and nature, very dreamy is her photography style.

Paul Williams — Hailing from Cumbria, Paul and his photography manages to also escape out of the box, already a fantastic photographer in his own rights, he uses photography to help combat PTSD and find relaxation amongst nature.

Jackson Moyles — Dunfermline in Scotland is where Jackson is from, and his photography is dreamy, atmospheric and showcases the landscape in a more alternative way, one which has stories to them that makes you want to know more.

Georgie Peel — Dreamy, Atmospheric and observational photography is what Georgie manages to capture, again her photography could be described as “portraiture by stealth with a camera” and her work has a charm to it, that again instantly makes the viewer want to know more.

And of course from the first episode, I had to watch more, throughout the episodes (there are only four in Series 1) the photographers gel together and we gradually find out their individual photography likes and dislikes, but this program is all about challenging them, pushing boundaries and proving that “anything is possible when you put your mind to it.” Needless to say that this is what happens, the final challenges become more complex and before you know it, sadly the series ended in Episode four, of course though no spoilers for anyone who has not seen it, but when the x2 winners are announced, Rankin is very quick to point out that everyone has won in their own rights, something that Paul also says at the end as well, Winners? For they are all winners and their photography offers so much for so many people. But really this is something else from the BBC that provides escapism and it is this style and format of program that I would like to see again, perhaps next year the BBC will bring back “The Great British Photography Challenge.” As it is the perfect tonic for any photographer and provides the chance to learn, even from in front of the screen when viewing on television.

But what did stand out to me is that at the end of the series, everyone had won in their own rights, talented is what the contestants are and we get to see them push boundaries and try different methods, methods that even now they are using. Really this is fantastic television and it is worth watching, if you are interested in watching this fantastic series, it is on BBC iPlayer.

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