The multi-million bestselling author

Meet the 2024 Judges

LJ Ross

LJ Ross is an internationally bestselling author of atmospheric crime and mystery thrillers, whose books are all inspired by and set in the North East and have sold over ten million copies worldwide. She was born and bred in the region, where she continues to live with her husband and young children. Through her own publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing, Louise undertakes a number of philanthropic ventures, including founding and sponsoring the Northern Photography Prize to support creative arts in the region she loves.

Joe Taylor


For as long as Joe can remember, he has always loved and felt happiest in the countryside and surrounded by nature. Fortunate to have grown up in rural Northumberland, it’s no surprise that he choose to specialise in outdoor lifestyle, landscape and nature photography. 

Joe studied photography at Newcastle College in 2004 and continued on to have a successful run of photographing weddings and local sporting events.  However, being young and keen to earn his keep, his career took a different course and he trained to become a carpenter/joiner. However, he strongly felt the urge to pursue photography. 

His main aim in his photography is to share the wonderful places he visits and his interactions with wildlife.


David Whetstone

David started writing about visual art for The Journal in the 1980s and became Arts & Entertainment Editor in 1991, interviewing, reviewing and reporting on stories relating to the arts – including the redevelopment of Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides and the emergence of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead. For 12 years, from 2005, he was editor of the Culture magazine, which documented the cultural scene across the wider North East – alongside the daily Culture pages in The Journal – and won regional and national awards. David himself has been named North East Arts Writer of the Year seven times thanks to his insightful and broad-ranging coverage. Since the summer of 2018, David has been writing for Cultured. North East, and wider publications across the region.

Latest project: The QT – a new digital media platform for the North East with an emphasis on quality regional journalism.


Janet Blair

Janet was picture editor and editor at sporting publishers Kensington West Productions before co-founding Living North and developing it into the leading lifestyle publication in the North of England. A Geordie born and bred, she is passionate about the North East and the incredible talent found here and Living North has championed small businesses, creatives and fledgling entrepreneurs for over 20 years. A mother of four, Janet loves the sea and spends as much time walking on the beach in Northumberland as she can.

Zoila Brozas

Zoila is renowned for her work as a location photographer, having worked on numerous factual entertainment programs for the BBC and ITV.

Through her lens, she unveils the untold stories of dedication, creativity, and collaboration that form the backbone of every production.

Zoila is currently on set with the team filming Series 3 of Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes.

Donna-Lisa Healy

Donna-Lisa Healy is a fine art photographer specialising in portraiture. She undertook a B.A. in Photography, Video and Digital Imaging, and an M.A. in Photography, at the University of Sunderland. She has had exhibitions at the Lit and Phil, Hatton, Queen’s Hall, Bede’s World, Newcastle City Library, and the Gala Theatre. Her portraits have been used from newspapers, to magazine covers, to the BBC. She loves a ride-out in the Northumberland countryside, and a good book.

Her new exhibition of North East Heroes can be seen at The Biscuit Factory from 17 May – 16 June.

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