The beauty of bygone eras in the best historical photography of 2019
In its third year, the Historic Photographer of the Year contest has quickly become one of the most captivating photo competitions on the annual calendar. This year’s set of winning and shortlisted images delivers a rich selection of photographs, from ancient stone circles in the UK to beautiful Islamic architecture in Pakistan.
“When it comes to evocative, breath-taking imagery that makes you truly consider the world around you, historic and cultural photography is hard to beat,” says famous historian and podcaster Dan Snow, a judge in this year’s contest. “The wonderful entries we’ve seen in this year’s awards highlight everything from the haunting remains of the Normandy beaches to astonishing shots of ancient forts and exceptional imagery from a lost industrial past. It reminds people that exploring history is an adventure, where you stumble across decaying remnants of the past and remember the incredible stories that took place all around us.”
The competition is impressively straightforward, with one main category, and a secondary category focusing exclusively on historic English locations. Alongside all the usual photo contest judging criteria (originality, composition, aesthetics, etc), the judges also add weight to the historical narrative behind every submission.
This year’s overall winner was a shot of the ruins of Arromanches Mulberry Harbour in Normandy. These artificial harbours, called Mulberry harbours, were a vital part of the Allied invasion of Normandy, enabling the rapid offloading of cargo after beachheads were established following D-Day.
“The wonderful use of light, perspective and composition to produce an image which conveys the futility and yet – in the case of World War Two in particular – the necessity of war, to defeat the forces of tyranny and oppression, made this stand out from the other wonderful entries,” explains another judge in this year’s contest, Dan Korn, VP of Programming for the UK History channel.
Other memorable shortlisted images from this years contest include a look at one of the oldest wooden structures in the world – the Horyu-ji Temple complex in Japan – an unusual angle on Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia, and a beautiful snap of The Shambles – an old street in York.
Take a look through our gallery at more of the winning and shortlisted entries in this year’s contest.