Two talented amateur photographers from the North East have scooped the winning landscape and portrait awards at the Northern Photography Prize in its debut year.
Michelle K. Williams, from New Hartley near Seaton Delaval, picked up the landscape award The Spirit of the North East Prize with her striking entry “The North East coast is our very own pot of gold”, depicting a wide, vivid rainbow set against the backdrop of moody coastal skies and equally colourful beach huts.
The Heart of the North East Prize for the best portrait was awarded to Whitley Bay’s Louise Warburton for “On Reflection”, a stunning image of a child’s reflection in the sea capturing a moment in time to perfection.
Michelle K Williams said: “I love our area and to me being able to capture this moment in time was very special. I loved that the colours of the rainbow were represented in the colours of the beach huts, and that the rainbow’s end looked to be hiding behind one of the beach huts. The positioning of the second rainbow placed the wind turbine out to sea directly in the middle of the rainbows, giving an additional depth and perspective of scale.
“I am absolutely over the moon (or should that be over the rainbow!) to be chosen as a winner for the first Northern Photography Prize. As an amateur photographer it’s a great honour to have my work recognised in this way and showcase the spirit of the North East at the same time. The standard of the other shortlisted entries was amazing, and I’m pleased I didn’t have to judge it! I’m really excited about the opportunities that will arise from this and look forward to what the future may bring for me in my photography journey.”
Louise Warburton commented: “This is a photo of my friend’s daughter taken on Whitley Bay beach looking towards St Mary’s Lighthouse. She was running in and out of the water and for the one moment she stood still, I captured her before stepping into the water while it was all still. I love that it shows her reflection and the light was perfect.
“I am thrilled to have won “The Heart of the North East” award in this year’s Northern Photography Prize! It was so unexpected and an honour to be selected from such an impressive line-up of talented finalists. A huge thank you to LJ Ross and Dark Skies Publishing for the opportunity. It has been an amazing experience so far and is encouragement to continue to capture more great shots!”
In its debut year, the prize attracted hundreds of submissions from amateur photographers across the region, who were invited to capture the spirit and heart of the North East of England through its people and places. The two winners will each collect a £1,000 cash prize courtesy of bestselling author LJ Ross, who founded and sponsored the prize through her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing.
Reflecting upon the prize’s inaugural year, LJ Ross said: “I’ve always been inspired by the unique ability of talented photographers to capture the essence of a person or a place, and the people and places of the North East of England are particularly special to me, since they represent my homeland. After such a difficult time during the pandemic, I wanted to found a prize that celebrates the ‘spirit’ and ‘heart’ of our shared region and to continue to support and encourage the arts. We’ve had an overwhelming response in our first year, which made it no easy task for the judges to choose between so many powerful entries. It was a privilege to be a part of the process.”
A special, free-entry exhibition entitled “Northern Photography Prize 2021”, showcasing all of the shortlisted entries across the landscape and portrait categories, will be on display at the Biscuit Factory Art Gallery in Newcastle Upon Tyne, from 1 November until 30 November. The winning entries will be projected onto the wall of BALTIC Art Gallery in Gateshead on the evening of 4 December.