The multi-million bestselling author

Meet the Judges

LJ Ross

LJ Ross is an international bestselling author of atmospheric crime and mystery thrillers, whose books are all inspired by and set in the North East and have sold over seven 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

Joe Taylor is a freelance photographer specialising in outdoor lifestyle, landscape and nature photography. 

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. 

Roger Clegg

In 2001, after 30 years working in Sales, Marketing and Business Consultancy, Roger Clegg began to photograph Hadrian’s Wall and its surrounding countryside. His intention from the outset was to capture the history and character of the Wall as well as the countryside and communities that make Hadrian’s Wall Country the beautiful and diverse area that it is today. 

Roger’s pictures are more than just a record of Hadrian’s Wall Country; they show this swathe of England’s Northern Border Country throughout all seasons, from before sunrise till after sunset, and in all types of weather. Roger does not focus his attention on just the tourist “honey pots”; his photography covers the full span of the Wall from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. So his collection of pictures is very comprehensive. 

Most of the pictures are taken to be informative, to show you a particular location or feature. However, Roger’s creativity gives these pictures a beauty, drama and impact that make them equally desirable in the home or for use in commerce. 

Roger’s pictures are used very extensively by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd and other organisations to promote Hadrian’s Wall Country as a holiday destination. Other uses have included decorating buses that travel the course of the Wall and a Northern Rail train. His pictures were also used by the British Museum for the “Hadrian: Empire and Conflict” Exhibition for PR, book illustrations, postcards, and within the exhibition. A huge enlargement (approximately 4m x 9m) was used at the main entrance. 

A distillation of Roger’s photography is available in his book “The Spirit of Hadrian’s Wall” published by Cicerone. 

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.

Matthew Cassady

Born in Southern Africa, Matt has always enjoyed being outdoors in nature perusing adventure and exploring.  An avid fan of books, when he isn’t curled up with a good mystery, he enjoys expanding his knowledge of the outdoors as well as the history and folk tales of the British Isles. Having recently moved to the North East from Manchester with his family, he joined the National Trust as retail Manager at Cragside.  

With a long career in retail and having previously owned a local food business in the North West, Matt is passionate about championing locally produced and ‘home-grown’ products.  Now feeling very settled in the North East, Matt and family are enjoying exploring Northumberland’s historic buildings, landscapes, and coastline while sampling the culinary delights and the rich array of art and culture the North East has to offer.  

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