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WINNER 2023 - SPIRIT of the NORTH EAST (Landscape Award)

Dancing Trees

by Dr Julie Smith

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. September is one of the best months for the Milky Way as it appears vertically in the sky. The location was up on Walltown Crags, close to the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail. Sadly one of those trees was damaged in a storm just a few years ago so it’s bitter sweet that they no longer ‘dance’ like they used to. This memory of them is preserved in my photograph.’

“Dancing Trees” was taken with a Nikon D3300 on a tripod with a Tokina 11-16mm lens F2.8, 16mm, ISO 6400, exposure 10 seconds.

About Julie

‘I went to school in Newcastle followed by seven years away at Coventry University. I came back to the North East in 1997 and for the last 12 years I’ve been working to tackle domestic abuse. It’s an incredibly rewarding but difficult job so my hobbies are a great way to unwind and re-charge. My photography experience started in 2016 when my husband bought me my first DSLR. Living right on the end of the National Park, I desperately wanted to photograph the Northern Lights and the night sky and so had to learn how to use the camera in full manual mode and in the pitch black. My Dancing Trees photo was taken with that first DSLR (Nikon 3300) and is still one of my favourites.’

On winning the award she added: “Getting the news that I’d won has quite honestly stunned me, especially given the high standard of the competition. To even be shortlisted exceeded all my expectations, but to win has blown me away and it’s a very humbling feeling. Seeing my photo framed and hung on the wall next to all the other shortlisted entries in the prestigious Biscuit Factory gallery gave me a real sense of pride and appreciation for everything that’s captivating about our region. Those of us behind the lens aim to elicit an emotion in our images and to have achieved that with my entry is deeply appreciated. It’s certainly given me a boost in confidence that’s been lacking for a very long time.’

Instagram julieandmichaelsmith

WINNER 2023 - HEART of the NORTH EAST (People & Portrait Award)

Start of the Week

by Mick Fulcher

‘I left school aged 17 and after a few jobs at numerous companies, I qualified as a driver for the Tyne and Wear Metro in 2019. I’m currently part of the testing and commissioning team for the new fleet. I started photography a few years ago but took a real interest in 2021 and haven’t looked back. I enjoy all styles of photography but find that I’m most comfortable with street and portraits.’

Picking up his award he said: “I’m blown away to be announced as winner – the shortlisted photographs this year are nothing but outstanding, and everyone who was shortlisted should be extremely proud of themselves. With each photo I’ve tried to improve, learn the craft and develop some sort of “style”. To be chosen as the winner has pushed me to continue with this hobby and reminded me of the reason I started in the first place! A massive thank you to everyone who dedicates their time and puts in the effort to create The Northern Photography Prize, so that photographers in the North East have a platform to show people what they can do. It is very much appreciated.”

‘We have some outstanding photographers in the North East that really are masters of their craft. This competition is a perfect way of highlighting that. I’m very grateful that one of my images has been shortlisted.’

Instagram: northern_negatives

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