By Georgette Malitsis | Photos & Styling by Leonid Gurevich
Digital Capture: [+] Futurecapture | Skin: David Razzano
Photographer’s Assistants: Steven Simione, Caroline Argirokastritis | Post Production: George Buczko
World-renowned fashion photographer and former model, Nigel Barker continues his legacy through his true dedication and passion for creativity and the arts. His talents date back to the 1980s when his mother entered him in a modeling competition that ultimately sparked his career in the fashion industry—an unexpected change of direction for a man who was originally studying medicine in hopes of becoming a doctor. It wasn’t until after the ’80sthat Barker discovered his passion for photography, and after making this transition, he quickly changed the world of fashion and media for years going forward.
Barker’s photography career began in Milan, Paris and London where his previous travels around the world as a model allowed him to work with world-renowned photographers. Barker moved to New York in 1996 and set up a studio in the meat packing district (quite an undesirable location in those days) where he realized he could make a career out of combining what he was most passionate about and best at—fashion photography.
don’t judge a book by its cover.
Barker always enjoyed being creative and enjoyed the arts—a large part of this passion was being involved in the modeling business and photography was his natural transition to a fashion media icon. His first big break was in PAPER Magazine when editorial director, Mickey Boardman, gave him a big story after Barker went above and beyond with portraits for the magazine. PAPER Magazine ran all 14 pages of Barker’s portraits and also gave him the cover. That in turn quickly launched his career.
Barker began his photography career with America’s Next Top Model—one of the most successful fashion reality television series—during the show’s second season. The network was interested in taking him on for a more permanent position as both judge and photographer. At the time, television was not very exclusive or elitist and partaking in a show that was on prime-time television was once frowned upon. Knowing this, Barker still took the risk in 2003 and has since then served 17 successful seasons on the show.
What is most unique about Barker’s extensive career as a photographer is that he practiced his craft by shooting with film. The world of digital photography did not exist until the mid-2000s. His first experience with digital photography was on America’s Next Top Model where he was expected to shoot digitally for a Garden of Eden-themed photo shoot. Lumiere digital company was launching its first digital camera, and with only five of their digital cameras in the country—Barker was given the opportunity to be one of the first to use the equipment.
POLO RALPH LAUREN: Cardigan | MICHAEL KORS: Shirt | TALLIA ORANGE: Tie
In the beginning of its launch, America’s Next Top Model was a very low-budget reality television series, but was valued by viewers due to its authenticity. No one on the show became famous until several seasons progressed. America’s Next Top Model then changed dramatically and by the end of its run, members of the show, including Barker, gained fame and success as being part of a well-known television series that aired in over 100 countries with over 100 million viewers all over the world.
Barker tells us that the biggest lesson he gained from working for an extensive period on America’s Next Top Model was the importance of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Certain contestants over the course of the show would reveal themselves as future stars and Barker enjoyed seeing the arc of transformation of the people who had potential and were willing to learn. This sparked the mentoring aspect of his career that he uses today in launching his Top Photographer—a very similar concept of uncovering talent and potential.
After serving as a judge and photographer for a decade on America’s Next Top Model Barker began his new venture as host of a new reality competition show Top Photographer.. The idea for the show germinated due to some of the most popular highlights of America’s Next Top Model. The excitement of the show’s photo shoots and model transformations had viewers engaged and inspired. Viewers seemed to love the fashion industry and modeling and Barker wanted to push the idea that it was possible to become a photographer with the right creative ambition.
TALLIA ORANGE: Sport Coat | POLO RALPH LAUREN: Shirt | CALVIN KLEIN: Sweater | TALLIA ORANGE: Tie: | ALLEN EDMONDS: Shoes
The current launch of the Adorama web series Top Photographer features a series of photography challenges as five carefully selected photographers compete for the perfect shot. Contestants are expected to wow judges based on their ability to work well with subjects as well as capture a concept that is beyond their familiarity of photography.
Barker’s long-standing relationship with Adorama allowed the production of Top Photographer to come together. Adorama is more than a camera store —it’s one of the world’s largest photography, video, audio and computer retailers. AdoramaTV is the preeminent source for videos related to the photography, film and music community. They are at the forefront of social media and one of the longest-established companies in film.
So far, Top Photographer has reached a wide audience, including viewers ranging from Europe to South Africa. The first season of Top Photographer received thousands of submissions and narrowed them down to the five photographers who demonstrated the most potential. Submissions are limited to only one photo and it must be the highest quality and best depiction of their work. The show plans to increase the amount of contestants in future seasons and hopes to add an element of teaching to the competition as well where contestants are expected to practice the photographic style they’d been taught.
The goal of Top Photographer is to create a show that is cutting edge and available for anyone to watch around the world. Launching the show on YouTube facilitated the concept where users could download and share episodes. Doing so allows the show to reach younger audiences who utilize media platforms on a daily basis.
The industry of photography has grown exponentially on social media and has blown up over the years. Innovative technology, such as smartphones has armed millions of people with a camera at the palm of their hands. Top Photographer seeks to enable viewers to realize their creative potential and realize that the time is now in the growing age of technology.
Nigel Barker still continues his practice as a photographer outside of his new venture with Top Photographer. He is involved in a series of creative pursuits consisting of the launch of his own furniture line, radio show, men’s clothing and a variety of projects that emphasize his role as a fashion legend. Barker’s love for world travel and experiences has fed the production of his artistic endeavors, bringing him nothing short of success.