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Open House photography contest winners announced

Having sifted through more than 750 entries, we present the winners and runners-up of the AJ/Open House photography competition

Judges selected six photographs from more than 750 images on the theme ‘Celebrating Architecture, People and Place’ in this year’s Open House photo competition – held in association with the AJ and The Photographers’ Gallery.

London-based photographer Michael Walker-Toye won the professional category with his image City Hall.

Andrew McKelvie, a qualified accountant originally from Hong Kong and now based in London, won in the amateur category with Gasholder No 8, King’s Cross.

Judges included the AJ’s art editor Brad Yendle, The Photographers’ Gallery director Brett Rogers, architectural photographers Grant Smith and Dennis Gilbert, and Victoria Thornton, the founder of Open House London.

Smith said about Walker-Toye’s photo: ‘Of the hundreds of images we’ve seen, this is the most different – it really engaged with the theme.’

On McKelvie’s winning shot, Gilbert said: ‘This photograph suggests the surrounding city as well as being very graphic.’

In the professional category, Catherine Drea, a blogger, artist and photographer based in Ireland took second place with The Shard, while self-taught photographer Mike Pearce was third with his image titled Iconic.

In the amateur category, artist Gytaute Akstinaite was awarded second place for Near Balfron Tower. David Williams, a civil servant from Hertfordshire, took third spot with St Pancras Cruising Club and Gas Holder No 8.

‘This is another strong year for the competition’ said Yendle. ‘The winning photographs in both categories are thought-provoking and dramatic.’

Amateur category

First: Andrew McKelvie

Gasholder No 8, King’s Cross by Andrew McKelvie

Gasholder No 8, King’s Cross

Andrew McKelvie’s photograph of Gasholder No 8 took home the top prize in the category for being so unusual. The image was praised by the judges for taking perhaps one of the event’s more ordinary buildings and showing it from a different viewpoint. Dennis Gilbert explained: ‘The photograph shows [the gasholder] in a unique way as it suggests the surrounding city, and is very graphic.’ Yendle said: ‘It would look great in the AJ.’

Second: Gytaute Akstinaite

Near Balfron Tower by Gytaute Akstinaite

Near Balfron Tower

The judges enjoyed getting to grips with artist Akstinaite’s angular image: ‘Her ability to capture such a sense of intimacy within a Brutalist backdrop makes for a fascinating portrait.’

Third: David Williams

St Pancras Cruising Club and Gas Holder No 8 by David Williams

St Pancras Cruising Club and Gas Holder No 8

Williams’ image of the canal and cranes was praised for being a ‘busy shot’. ‘The moving train, moored boats and greenery give the city a sense of life.’

Professional category

First: Michael Walker-Toye

City Hall by Michael Walker-Toye

City Hall

Michael Walker-Toye’s interior view of City Hall during visiting hours gained first prize for its engagement with the theme of celebrating architecture. Grant Smith said: ‘Of the hundreds of images we’ve seen, this is the most different.’ Brett Rogers explained: ‘The image shows such a great interplay between individuals. ‘It’s fascinating to observe just how much they are enjoying the space.’

Second: Catherine Drea

The Shard by Catherine Drea

The Shard

The judges commended the ‘interplay of drama, light and movement’ in this image of the Shard. Drea explained: ‘I was just passing [by the building] when a silvery light lit it up like a torch.’

Third: Mike Pearce

Iconic by Mike Pearce


The panel awarded self-taught photographer Mike Pearce’s picture of Battersea Power Station in London the third prize in this year’s professional category for its representation of the building’s scale within its surrounding urban landscape and its overall atmosphere. The judges were also particularly impressed by Pearce’s competent studio treatment, which coupled with scale of the shot really caught their attention.

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