'Souls Tied' by Paul Killeen, the overall winner in the ‘World Landscape Photographer 2022’, competition.
PERHAPS one of the most beautiful and poignant pictures ever taken at the iconic Dark Hedges, near Stranocum, has earned a local photographer the title ‘World Landscape Photographer 2022’.
‘Souls Tied’, taken by Belfast based landscape photographer Paul Killeen, on the morning of a dear friend's funeral, beat off competition from over 1500 other photographers from 67 countries, to lift the accolade.
The striking image captures the silhouettes of two birds playfully engaging among the mist shrouded beech trees, evoking for Paul, his friend Lynsey, who had just lost her battle with cancer, and her husband Simon.
Explaining the story behind the image, Paul said:
“Last year, a good friend of my wife's sadly passed away. Lynsey, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2015.
“When diagnosed, she was informed that she would be lucky to see Christmas that same year. However, Lynsey bravely battled the cancer for five and a half years before she passed on April 11 2021. This image was made on April 14 2021, the morning of Lynsey's funeral.”
Paul went to Bregagh Road to find that the iconic trees, made world famous as 'Kings Road' in Game of Thrones, were engulfed in a wonderful fog and mist.
He said: “As soon as I saw the two birds fly into my frame I was immediately reminded of Lynsey and her husband Simon. This is a very poignant and personal image.”
Paul did not put the image on his website as usual, but did enter it in the competition, run to raise money for chosen charities.
He got word from competition organiser Nigel Danson on Saturday, that ‘Souls Tied’ had been selected from 8808 other images entered by 1623 photographers from 67 countries around the world.
Nigel is a YouTube creator and landscape photographer, who created the World Landscape Photographer competition in 2020 to raise money for different causes.
This year £16k was raised for Red Cross Ukraine Appeal.
Commenting on his competition success, Paul said:
“Winning World Landscape Photographer 2022 is such an unbelievable feeling. The competition is full of absolutely stunning work each year, and I am very much aware that on another day the judges could have chose another image as overall winner.
“I have received other awards in the past but this is my greatest achievement to date. It might mean an increase in print sales, or more people contacting me for photography workshops!
“Those that know me personally, will know how much winning this competition means to me. They will know of my passion to continue making images to please me first and foremost.
“For others to resonate with my work genuinely means so much. Its not really about any prizes, for me it is more about gaining recognition from people who I consider to be world class in the landscape photography world.
“Thank you to Nigel Danson and the other six judges for choosing my image as the winner.”
Why not check out Paul's other work at www.paulkilleenphotography.com.