THE winners of a photography prize founded by a best-selling Northumberland author have been announced.

LJ Ross, who grew up near Ponteland, founded and sponsored the Northern Photography Prize through her publishing imprint, Dark Skies Publishing.

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.

Michelle K. Williams, from New Hartley near Seaton Delaval, picked up the landscape award The Spirit of the North East Prize with her 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.

And The Heart of the North East Prize for the best portrait was awarded to Whitley Bay’s Louise Warburton for “On Reflection”, an image of a child’s reflection in the sea capturing a moment in time.

The two winners will each collect a £1,000 cash prize.

LJ Ross, author of the hugely successful DCI Ryan series, 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 November 1 until November 30.

The winning entries will be projected onto the wall of BALTIC Art Gallery in Gateshead on the evening of December 4.

Read more about the inspiration behind LJ Ross' books and what she is currently working on in next week's Hexham Courant.