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How to Become a Top Photographer

Nigel Barker on his new competition show, getting more likes on Instagram and the exhibition that started his career

Want a chance at making it big as a photographer? Nigel Barker has your in. Until the end of this week only, one of the most famous faces behind the lens is inviting people of all skill levels to submit their work in hopes of being chosen to compete on AdoramaTV’s Top Photographer with Nigel Barker, which will air later this fall. Five finalists will compete over the course of five episodes to win $50,000 worth of camera equipment and an invaluable chance to showcase their work.

Probably the most valuable prize at stake, the winner’s work will be displayed at an event hosted by Barker, who says that one successful NYC exhibition in the ‘90s was the catalyst that began his now legendary career. “I got very lucky and I got to do an exhibition of my work as a young photographer in New York,” he recalls. “And it was that exhibition that really opened my portfolio to so many industry experts, and I started working from that moment.” Of the grand prize, he says, “It’s going to be a big, fabulous party with an exhibition that will be up in a gallery in New York. And it’s going to be of all their work, not just what they shot on the show, but their whole portfolio and everything else they’ve worked on.” Nigel Barker’s rolodex makes this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “That’s really something that money can’t buy,” says Barker. “And at that point your [photography] speaks for itself, you’re either going to get the work or you’re not.”

It doesn’t matter to Barker if submissions from potential contestants are taken on an iPhone, a DSLR or anything in between. “I’m looking for people that think outside the box, who are willing to take risk,” he says. “I think it’s very important for people to love their own work. It’s most important that they submit a picture that speaks to them.” When the time comes for the five finalists to face off on camera, they will be using professional equipment supplied by Canon in a series of challenges ranging from fashion to landscape to sports photography.

Enthusiasts who don’t make the cut can still gain insight—and hopefully Instagram likes—from watching the show. “We’re going to be giving tips constantly,” says Barker. What does he personally recommend when taking a snapshot for social media? “The difference between someone who takes a photo who gets 10,000 likes versus someone who gets a 100 likes—and I really mean this—is the fact that that photo has really managed to capture emotion and feeling. Even if you’re photographing a landscape, even if you’re photographing food, you have to think of it in that way,” he says.

To be considered for Top Photographer, submit a photograph here before midnight on August 12.