A picture-perfect season

15 Aug 2017 / 17:01 H.

THE hunt continues for Asia's next top amateur photographer, in the upcoming fourth season of Photo Face-Off.
The popular reality ­photography competition ­returns with six one-hour episodes, ­featuring ­contestants from around the region who will have to undergo various ­challenges to capture stunning photo stories of popular, socially-trending and culturally-relevant subjects and interests of today.
The fourth successive ­season of Photo Face-Off will once again be helmed by Justin Mott, the show's resident chief judge.
Mott is an award-winning professional photographer who has worked for reputable publications in the US and across the world. He also runs a studio in ­Vietnam specialising in ­commercial photography and video production.
The first five one-hour ­episodes of Photo Face-Off season four will each take place in one of five countries – ­Singapore, ­Malaysia, the Philippines, ­Indonesia and Vietnam.
In every ­episode, four amateur photographers from one country will ­compete against each other.
In addition, the top two ­photographers of the episode will go up against Mott himself, for a chance to win additional prizes.
At the end of each ­episode, the judges – consisting of Mott and ­selected professional ­photographers based in the country in which the episode takes place – will select the best ­photographer, who will ­represent their country in the season's grand final.
This season, things will be spiced up during the show's 90-minute final episode, as the five ­episode winners will go head-to-head against three wild card contestants – selected amateur ­photographers from Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
During the recent ­History Con 2017 at the Malaysia Agro ­Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) in Selangor, I caught up with Mott himself.
He said that contestants this season were younger than ­previous seasons.
"Many of them are around 15 or 16 years old," Mott noted. "It is good, it is fun. It is more embarrassing to lose to them".
He added that this season will still be entertaining and educational, as viewers and contestants will learn something in each episode.
"I think (the reason) I am a ­little more ­honest with the ­contestants about their pictures [is] to push them to another level, Mott said. "Before they go up against me, I want to toughen them up".
At the end of the day, the pictures will be judged on colour, composition, and subject matter.
Mott said the judges all have their own views and argue about the contestants and their photographs, but ­essentially, ­picking the winning shot is based on a majority decision if there are odd number of judges, or, if there happens to be only two judges, they will simply hash things out between them.
There always is a translator on location in case contestants aren't very fluent in English, and there are experts who will teach them how to best use the various models of cameras in each challenge.
The contestants are also ­allowed to ask as many ­questions as they want before each ­challenge, so the chances of them misunderstanding the brief is remote.
These days, more and more people use their ­smartphones instead of ­conventional cameras to take pictures.
To this, Mott said: "No ­matter what device you are using, it still boils down to the basic rules of photography that you need to understand.
"You still need to tell a story; you still need to understand ­composition; you still need to understand light."
He points out that the ­smartphone is just a tool, but recommends that diehard ­photographers use a proper ­camera to get the best shots ­without getting distracted.
"If you want to take a truly good picture, you have to be present in the moment".


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