The Great British Photography Challenge interview: Jackson Moyles

Great British Photography Challenge
Jackson Moyles (second from left) and the rest of The Great British Photography Challenge contestants: Ali Lewis, Paul Williams, Georgie Peel, Tyrone Williams and Chelsea Nawanga (Image credit: BBC)

The Great British Photography Challenge series finale will be broadcast on Monday 14 June, when the fourth and final episode goes out at 9pm on BBC4. 

Rankin and his creative team will be the judges as the contestants exhibit a portfolio of their best images in a gallery exhibition. 

As there are no weekly eliminations in the show’s format, the six contestants are all very much in the game at this point. 

With new assignments and creative briefs to complete every week, the six photographers have shot hundreds of images over the course of the series, but just 15 photos will determine which one of them will triumph. 

While the series was being aired, we caught up with all the contestants to find out more about what it was like to be a participant on a prime-time photography show. 

So here are 5 quick questions with Jackson Moyles, one of two landscape photographers in the group… 

Great British Photography Challenge contestants on location

Jackson (far left) and four of the other Great British Photography Challenge contestants in Brighton for the beach assignment in episode 1 (Image credit: BBC)

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

Rankin was on the radar but being on polar opposite ends of photography meant that I wasn’t current on him and his work – although I was brought up to speed immediately when I walked through the front door of his studio and saw the display of top-class images.

Great British Photography Challenge Rankin image

Great British Photography Challenge tutor and taskmaster Rankin (Image credit: BBC)

What was it like being a model for him in episode 1? And what was your photographic takeaway from that session?

I don’t tend to be in front of the camera so attempting to pose for Rankin was a tad foreign to say the least. A rabbit in the headlights would be the best description! 

I had seen how Rankin unlocked a model and managed to get the most out of them but experiencing him do that to me was incredibly insightful. 

Getting me to jump around and do ridiculous poses before moving on to do more serious stances really helped me relax. 

He later admitted to me that it was all intentional and he did that as a bit of a warmup.

Great British Photography Challenge image 17

Jackson’s shot of actor Anna Friel for the Celebrity Portrait assignment, episode 1, at London’s Troxy music venue (Image credit: Jackson Moyles/BBC)

What was the hardest point of the programme for you? And the highlight? 

The hardest part was always coming up with original ideas for a shoot. It can be very easy to fall into the trap of cliches, especially when time is against you. 

All the highlights I had were when I had successfully carried out an assignment where I had taken a risk, thought outside the box and avoided the dreaded cliches. 

Great British Photography Challenge image 19

Urban Cool fashion assignment in Rankin’s studio, episode 2 (Image credit: Jackson Moyles/BBC)

Did you ever shoot images you thought would please Rankin – perhaps having done your research on his work – or just shoot things your way and have confidence that your potential would shine through?

Never. I feel as though If I had gone in with the mindset to solely please Rankin then I would have gained nothing from the experience. 

Above all, I want to be my own unique artist and take inspiration from the likes of Rankin instead of stealing their style. 

Rankin says that “90 per cent of photography is problem solving.” What was the standout photographic problem you solved on the show, and why? 

There was a point during the Wildcard assignment where I didn’t think I was going to come away with anything, due to the typical Scottish elements making it physically impossible to raise the camera lens. 

Despite everything being against me, I stayed patient. There were slight breaks in the weather but nothing was coming close to what I needed. 

The light was fading and right as I was about to call it a day, there was a break in the clouds and the whole scene fell into place. 

It wasn’t a technical problem that I had to solve but one that was completely out of my control so all I could do was be ready for when that window of opportunity came. 

Don’t miss the series finale on 14 June

Great British Photography Challenge

Enjoyed the show? You can also catch Rankin on the Super Stage at The Photography Show 2021, 18 to 21 September at the NEC Birmingham (Image credit: BBC)

The Great British Photography Challenge concludes on Monday 14 June at 9pm BST on BBC4. All four episodes will be available on catch-up via the BBC iPlayer (international details are TBC, but the show is likely to land on one of the best streaming services outside the UK). 

• Read more: Best TV shows about photography

“This has been an incredible opportunity to nurture the next generation of photographers,” said Rankin. “All the contestants had such unique and varied backgrounds, but what brought them together was their love for photography. The contestants have exceptional promise and I’m excited for the UK to see their talent.”

If you‘d like to hear more from Rankin about portraiture, make sure you catch his talk from the Super Stage at The Photography Show 2021, which welcomes back visitors to the NEC in Birmingham from 18 to 21 September. 

Read more: 

Best TV shows about photography
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Niall Hampton

Niall is the editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for over 20 years, and on various point-and-shoot models for years before that. 

Working alongside professional photographers for many years as a jobbing journalist gave Niall the curiosity to also start working on the other side of the lens. These days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, and he also enjoys dabbling with studio still life. 

On the site you will see him writing photographer profiles, asking questions for Q&As and interviews, reporting on the latest and most noteworthy photography competitions, and sharing his knowledge on website building.