Great British Photography Challenge interview: Ali Lewis


The fourth and final episode of The Great British Photography Challenge will air next Monday (June 14) at 9 p.m. and can be watched on BBC iPlayer afterwards along with the rest of the series.

So after getting through the halfway point of the program, with the Flowers and Sports homework from Episode 3 in the bag, it remains to be seen if each candidate did enough to win the competition.

The winner will be revealed at the end of Episode 4, crowned by Rankin and his creative collaborators on the strength of the images selected by the contestants for the gallery exhibition.

Over the course of the series, the six photographers must have taken hundreds of images – but in the end, they will be judged on their 15 strongest shots.

While the series aired, we sat down with all of the contestants to find out more about the show. First up, here are 5 quick questions with Ali Lewis …

Were you in awe of modeling for Rankin in the first episode – did you learn anything from his approach?

Yes! Absolutely. I have never had such an opportunity before and it was amazing! We had the opportunity to have our hair and makeup done by his stylists, which I always wanted to do!

But what was so interesting was feeling how all of the other celebrities and amazing people he photographed felt to be his subject.

Rankin has a way of instantly making you relax and feel comfortable, which I think is a very important part of being a portrait photographer. It’s like he can see your character and bring it out of you and display it in his pictures.

Provided by Rankin Great British Photography Challenge

Rankin is tutor and prime contractor for the Great British Photography Challenge (Image credit: BBC)

What did you know about Rankin and his work before you applied to be on the show – were you a fan?

To be honest, I wasn’t very familiar with it, but I think it’s just because I’m very drawn to nature and landscape photographers.

I still feel like a newbie to all of this and started out being heavily influenced by a lot of Instagram photographers.

Over time, however, the photographers I follow on Instagram as well as the friends and podcasts I listen to, such as Biblioscapes and the Togcast, have opened my eyes to many influential photographers.

What was the most difficult part of the program for you? And the highlight?

The hardest part for me (besides being away from my family) was the fashion shoot. It was really out of my comfort zone as I had never photographed a model before.

I had had a lot of time to wait and think and worry … by the time it was my turn all those thoughts evaporated and I found myself in a position where it was literally me who was in control and I think the panic has set in a bit!

But what upset me the most was that I felt like I had let the model down because I had no experience of what it took to bring her personality into the picture. and also all the other people present.

My highlight must be the landscaping mission and the meeting with Thomas Joshua Cooper. We met him at Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands which was such a beautiful place and I immediately felt a connection with him.

He was so passionate about nature and photography and spoke about it in such a beautiful and inspiring way, I even thought I was going to cry at one point!

I think sometimes in life you meet someone who has a big impact on you and who you know you won’t forget, and he’s one of them.

The competitors of the Great British Photography Challenge on site

The first assignment of the Great British Photography Challenge was a photoshoot on the beach in Brighton (Image credit: BBC)

On the show, Rankin says that “90% of photography is about solving problems.” What was the remarkable photographic problem you solved on the show, and why?

Believe in me ! As cheesy as it sounds, when we were told what we had to do for a mission, deep in my head I panicked, thinking, “What if I can’t do this?” ”

I’m still worried about my technical abilities and whether I’m going to be able to set my camera correctly to capture the feeling of a photo. But most of the time I managed to pull through, and that makes me proud.

In one of the homework, I really challenged myself by studying how to use an ND filter to create a motion blur effect.

I knew the theory behind it and decided to risk it and play it by ear the same day. It was very, very scary but I think I made it in the end!

What is your assessment of your participation in the Great British Photography Challenge?

I got to meet and become the best friend of five other amazing photographers.

It was so exciting and inspiring to see their work and to see how they saw it, and how we all had the same task and produced such different images.

It really made me see my photos in a whole new light too. I am incredibly lucky to have been fortunate enough to have been on this incredible journey of a photographic life!

Great British photography challenge

Rankin to speak on the Photography Show 2021 Super Stage, September 18-21 at NEC Birmingham (Image credit: BBC)

The Great British Photography Challenge ends June 14 at 9 p.m. BST on BBC4. All four episodes will be available for catch-up via the BBC iPlayer (international details to be confirmed, but the show is likely to land on one of the better streaming services outside the UK).

• Find out more: Best TV Shows About Photography

“It has been an incredible opportunity to nurture the next generation of photographers” said Rankin. “All of the applicants had such unique and varied backgrounds, but what brought them together was their love for photography. The candidates have outstanding promise and I am delighted that the UK is seeing their talent. “

If you’d like to learn more about Rankin’s portrayal, be sure to attend his talk at the Photography Show 2021 Super Stage, which again welcomes visitors to the Birmingham NEC from September 18-21.

Read more:

Best TV Shows About Photography
Best Phones With Camera
Best books on fashion photography
Five tips for creative and abstract photography
The best podcasts for photographers


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