Justin Mott on wearing his ‘judging suit’ during Photo Face-Off (S3)

Justin Mott, professional photographer and judge for the third season for Photo Face-Off, speaks to Imagine TV Network and recounts the competitive streak he exhibits when he has to compete against the contestants from the show.

Imagine TV Network

Returning for another new season, Photo Face-Off (Season 3) takes viewers to five Asian countries -- Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam. In each episode, contestants compete in their home country and the respective winners from each country are flown to Vietnam for the grand finale. There, they will also face-off a wild card contestant from Vietnam.

Image credit: HISTORY

Each episode will consist of three challenges, namely a speed challenge, a theme challenge and a face-off challenge where they compete against the show's resident judge, Justin Mott. A professional photographer who has shot over 100 assignments for New York Times, Mott says he is a highly competitive individual and switches into 'competition mode' when he is pitted against the contestants.

"When I judge, I wear my suit and I judge very critically," he remarks. Changing into jeans, t-shirt, and boots when he is part of the face-off challenge signifies more than a change of clothes -- it is a change of his mindset. He comments that his reputation is on the line and he "goes into the killer instinct."

He illustrates his competitive nature with an anecdote from the first season. When he was competing against a contestant who was intending to submit a sepia-toned photograph, he decided to do the same so that they will compete on level ground. "I thought, 'I don't want to lose to him because that judge happened to like sepia tone'... and I thought it [would] come down to who had a better shot," he says.

Image credit: HISTORY

As a photographer working and based in Asia, he contends that he has met many talented photographers but they are not pursuing it as a professional career because their parents do not think it is a good job. He says he understands that photography is a tough and it is hard to make a living from it. Nevertheless, he emphasises that he is living proof that it is possible to stick to your style and successfully market it to clients.

However, being creative also includes being versatile and having the ability to adapt to the demands of clients. Singaporean contestant Chelsa Tan Yun Ting shares similar sentiments. Responding to questions about the biggest obstacle standing in her way if she wants to be a professional photographer, she says she is learning to become more commercial. "I do a lot of fine art photography... I sometimes struggle to meet the [creative] brief, especially with clients."

For Mott, the key is for photographers to exercise their creative freedom in tandem with the requirements set by the clients. He offers the theme challenge in episode three as an example. In that episode, the contestants are asked to capture a dynamic skate photograph of the East Coast Skate Park in Singapore for their client, the owner of the skate park.

"You need to get the picture that has your stamp on in -- your style, yes -- but if you don't please your client, you'll not get hired again and you might not get paid."

Photo Face-Off (Season 3) premieres tonight, and every Thursday, at 9pm on HISTORY (StarHub Cable TV Channel 401).



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