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16 spectacular images reflect the beauty of the North East

Northern Photography Prize Shortlist announced


Dan, as Peter Pan by Jane Curtis from Whitley Bay was shortlisted for the 2023 edition of the Northern Photography Prize
Dan, as Peter Pan by Jane Curtis - one of the shortlisted images

A shortlist of 16 breathtaking landscape and portrait photographs capturing the essence of the North East of England has been revealed today by the Northern Photography Prize. From sea-swimmers to shop-keepers, stunning skyscapes to monuments of industry, the prize celebrates the people and places that make the North East special.

Recording the unique beauty of the region, landscape category entrants captured rolling night skies above Northumberland’s Dark Skies national park, glorious sunsets over Teesside steelworks and thunderous seas battering Sunderland breakwaters. Meanwhile, portrait category entrants documented special moments in time among local people, from café dwellers and hesitant surfers to childhood sweethearts and family days out.

Founded by international bestselling author LJ Ross and sponsored by her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, the popular prize attracted a record number of submissions from amateur photographers this year. Entrants were encouraged to submit their snaps across two categories; landscape (Spirit of the North East) and portrait (Heart of the North East), with a £1,000 cash prize up for grabs for each of the two winners and a platform to develop their passion for photography.

The 16 shortlisted images will be showcased in a free-to-enter exhibition at the prestigious Newcastle art gallery The Biscuit Factory, from 16 September until 15 October. The winning entries will be announced on the first day of the exhibition.

LJ Ross, who is a passionate photography enthusiast and proud native of the North East, said: “I originally launched the Northern Photography Prize to celebrate everything that is great and unique about this part of the world and to help support the arts coming out of the pandemic. I never imagined that in just a few years the prize would become such a popular and successful initiative and I’m absolutely delighted with how it has been received.

She continued: “This year we were overwhelmed by both the quantity and quality of entries – so much so that we took the decision to double the size of the shortlist. I can’t wait to see these fantastic images on display at the Northern Photography Prize exhibition this September and sitting down with the judges for that unenviable task of choosing this year’s winners!”

This year’s panel of judges includes the editor of Living North magazine Janet Blair, the award winning journalist David Whetstone from Cultured. North East, and North East based professional photographers Joe Taylor and Donna-Lisa Healy.


Full shortlist

Landscape Shortlist – Spirit of the North East


Counting Sheep by Alan Rees, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Alan Rees, Ryton – Counting Sheep


“This photo was taken on an August bank holiday weekend stay in Weardale. I set off on an early morning cycle ride in the dark and rode through White Kirkley to reach the top of Harehope Burn near the Elephant Trees as the sun was rising and the mist started to lift over the valley with only some inquisitive sheep for company.”


The Heart of Teesside by Andrew McCardle, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Andrew McCardle, Redcar – The Heart of Teesside


“It was a late summers night, I just saw that the steel works looked so beautiful in the backdrop so I got my brother to turn the car around and I walked up the bridge and snapped the picture and got back in the car. We had to be quick as my brother was in a rush. I feel like the steelworks captures the heart of Teesside - the pride, the passion that still burns within the people of this place.”

Sea Fret at Saltburn by Jonathan Baillie, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Jonathan Baillie, Darlington – Sea Fret at Saltburn


“It was a very warm and lovely summer evening and we decided to go to Saltburn. As we were getting closer the fog rolled in and we thought it was going to spoil our evening. But no! When we got there the sun was piercing through in patches and the light was amazing. I caught my wife and sister in-law wandering along the beach in the photo, while I was on the pier taking some photos, trying to capture the astounding scene!”




Dancing Trees by Dr Julie Smith, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Dr Julie Smith, Henshaw – Dancing Trees


“My day job is tackling domestic abuse. Getting out with my camera to photograph our night skies and wildlife really helps me decompress. I live on the edge of the best dark skies national park in the country (Northumberland) and there’s nothing better than capturing its raw beauty as simply as possible. Being up on Hadrian’s Wall for night time photography is a tonic for the soul and offers some great nature foregrounds.”




Fire and Ice by Michael Wake, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Michael Wake, Sunderland – Fire and Ice


“I had tried several times to capture this composition of Penshaw Monument in County Durham, each time hoping for a sunset sky above. Sadly, luck was never on my side, resulting in a disappointed drive home every time. But on this occasion, I had a good feeling that, finally, I may get the shot. What I didn't expect was the dusting of snow that day had not melted away, which, combined with the sunset sky, just added to the image. That day luck was definitely on my side.”




Fog on the Tyne by Rachel Riley, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Rachel Riley, Tynemouth - Fog on the Tyne


“This was the first time I’d ever witnessed just how fast the sea fret can roll in at Tynemouth. There were blue clear skies, sun shining and then all quickly masked by the fog. I loved the spooky feeling it created slowly creeping in over the lighthouse, sometimes hiding it altogether and working its way into the land.”






Hadrian's Wall Sunrise by Richard Turnbull, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Richard Turnbull, Ashington – Hadrian’s Wall Sunrise


“This image was the result of a sleepless night when I looked out the window at 2am, and seeing misty conditions made the spur of the moment decision to go to the wall. I remember making my way there by torchlight and being occasionally startled by sheep. As the sun rose, the fog lingered in the dips and gave the shot that extra magical difference.”


Any Port in a Storm by Scott Wynne, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Scott Wynne, Lanchester – Any Port in a Storm


“Storm Arwen in November 2021 was an awesome reminder of the power of nature. The churning seas were almost acting out the invisible script of the wind, the power of which was never more obvious than when waves were sent smashing into the breakwater at Roker, Sunderland.”


Portrait Shortlist – Heart of the North East


Not a Crossed Word by Brendan Lewis, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Brendan Lewis, Middlesbrough – Not a Crossed Word


“On this day I met up with two friends in Newcastle to hang out, eat and talk/shoot photography. As we walked by this cafe I noticed the gentleman in the window, by himself looking at his crossword and the late morning light was falling on him in a beautiful way singling him out from the dark interior. A peaceful moment amidst the bustle of the city. I couldn’t help but capture it.”


New Year's Day Dip by Caroline O'Doherty, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Caroline O’Doherty, Prudhoe – New Year’s Day Dip


“Every year, usually between Christmas and New Year, we head to Alnmouth Beach with family and friends. This year, we decided to go on New Year's Day instead. Having not been to Alnmouth Beach before on New Year's Day, I had no idea a "New Year's Day Dip" took place there. There was something about the whole event that was both funny and heart-warming to watch. I stood on top of the sand dunes and when I got home, I realised I'd captured far more than what I saw through the lens.”




Dan, as Peter Pan by Jane Curtis, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Jane Curtis, Whitley Bay – Dan, as Peter Pan


“I swim in the sea most days and have done so for many years. I use a camera held in my hand to capture as much of the light, sea and life as I can. This photo was taken at the end of a swim where we had seen dolphins. Dan decided to take a leap from the South Pier at Cullercoats. He leaped into the sun and it seemed like he was flying.”


Let's go on an Adventure by Lewis Brown, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Lewis Brown, Sunderland - Let’s go on an Adventure


“I love to capture moments in my sons’ lives that we can look back on in the future. As a father I try to take my boys out on as many adventures and days out as I possibly can, whether that be local or in our campervan. On this specific day we stayed local. The weather wasn’t the best but that didn’t stop us venturing out. We ended up on North Gare Beach, Hartlepool, for a walk. The boys loved it. This image was shot on our way back to the car. No idea what they’re talking about. Probably planning the next outing.”





Start the Week by Mark Fulcher, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Mick Fulcher, Newcastle – Start of the Week


“This was taken just as the sun rays start to dip into the buildings around Monument. I said good morning to this gentleman who was starting work. I decided to take a candid portrait of him going about his graft.”








The Shopkeeper by Nicola Robley, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Nicola Robley, Penrith - The Shopkeeper


“I particularly wanted to capture this gentleman in the context of the shop surroundings at Beamish Museum, this was how he was posed on entering the shop with a twinkle in his eye and a friendly smile.”




Waiting for a Break by Sasha Blythe, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Sasha Blythe, Gateshead – Waiting for a Break


“I was drawn to this scene at South Shields by the rough seas, and the surfer pondering his options - should he take the chance or not?”





Tunnel of Love by Suzi Firenzi, one of the 16 shortlisted photos in the Northern Photography Prize 2023

Suzi Firenzi, Morpeth – Tunnel of Love


“This is my portrait of childhood sweethearts James and Emily. I love photographing on Newcastle’s High Level Bridge for the architectural interest. The crossing of their arms reflects the shape of the wheels on the ceiling. I’ve used the perspective to lead the eye to the couple with the love graffiti and padlocks adding to their romantic story. Where are they headed? Did they attach a lock? I love the diagonals and reflections adding interest. I liked the colour palette of green blue and buff.”

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