South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year 2022 Revealed

Photo caption: Seagull at Sea, Exmouth, South Devon
Taken by Paul Boomsma (South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year 2022)

Paul Boomsma, a photographer from South Devon has been named the South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year 2022 for capturing a herring gull in flight near Exmouth on the Jurassic Coast. 

The winning photograph, taken from the sea, beat tough competition from over 1,500 entries across the south west region. Paul takes home not only the title but wins a 3-night stay at the Masons Arms at Branscombe courtesy of sponsors, St Austell Brewery.

A panel of four judges included Andy Cooper, Editor of Coast magazine, who said of the winning image: 

“As judges, we were fortunate to see so many beautiful, impactful photographs on the day of judging, but for me, from first sight, Paul’s gull image stood out. It is beautifully framed and lit, with a stillness and attention to detail which draws you in. One cannot spend too long on the South West Coast Path without encountering wildlife – and in many places gulls – which only adds to the appropriateness of this choice. 

It is never easy to catch birds on the wing but to do so in this manner – and with such a compelling mixture of colours and tones – made it a worthy winner.”

Paul Boomsma recounts how he captured the shot, “I went on a boat trip to photograph the Jurassic Coast and as we were travelling through the fog, a group of gulls flew right past us. I quickly changed my lens and photographed some of them. It wasn’t until later when I looked through the many images taken on that day that I came across it and loved the way it looked. I’m really happy to have won South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year, having my work recognised and shared with others is extremely rewarding and it means even more that it’s a photo I took very close to my hometown.” 

Gulls are synonymous with the south west coastline providing a familiar soundscape to any walk along the South West Coast Path. Sometimes maligned, gulls are intelligent and adaptable, with some species, such as the herring gull captured in the winning image, on the Red List of threatened species. More information about the herring gull can be viewed on the RSPB site

This year’s competition saw the number of categories expand to include Nature; My Path; Climate Change; Urban and Industrial Heritage; and the first-ever Young Photographer of the Year Award. 


Photo caption: Spring at Cellars, Noss Mayo, South Devon
Taken by Jon Lovejoy (South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year – Nature category winner)

“An unusual viewpoint which really stood out to the judges for the way it portrays the diversity and beauty of the coast path, from its hidden coves to the huge variety of plant life. The photographer has composed and edited thoughtfully, using colour and detail sensitively to make a captivating image.”

Lucie Averill, Landscape Photographer, SWCP POTY 2022 Judge


Photo caption: Sunset on the Ammonite Pavement at Lyme Regis
Taken by James Loveridge (South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year – My Path category winner)

“A glorious image, full of quality, colour and design. The fossil in the foreground has lovely detail and all the boulders recede to the lovely star burst of a setting sun, The sky is beautiful and then the tiny path leading us back home on the second third of the image. The rule of thirds is often referred to in art, sometimes breaking that rule can be very dynamic, however this image however uses the rule to great advantage.”

Susan Brown FRPS, Landscape Photographer and Curator, SWCP POTY Judge


Photo caption: Isolation, Seaton, East Devon, Jurassic Coast
Taken by Alex Moorehead (South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year – Climate Change category winner)

“A very atmospheric image conveying the effects of climate change on our coast path. The photographer has composed it thoughtfully with the lone tree at the edge of the path amongst the rocks, standing out against the misty backdrop. As a black and white image there is a sense of desolation, but it also highlights how stunning the coast path is in all seasons.”   

Lucie Averill, Landscape Photographer, SWCP POTY Judge


Photo caption: Spooky Wheal Coates, North Cornwall
Taken by Mark Gowan (South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year – Urban and Industrial Heritage category winner)

“Atmosphere in abundance. At first, the image appears monochromatic but then on closer inspection the delicate tones of colour creep through. Such an ethereal image that speaks volumes about Industrial Heritage. The pathway delicately leads us to what appears like a very small chimney because of the perspective. A deserving winner.”

Susan Brown FRPS, Landscape Photographer and Curator, SWCP POTY Judge


The introduction of the Young Photographer of the Year Award saw several images entered that explored different perspectives of the Coast Path through a young person’s lens. The winning image was taken by 14-year-old Hazel Booth for her photograph, Clock Watching. When asked what she loved about the winning image Hazel said, “I love how in the background the photo shows nature and a path cutting through the land as if it were a river leading to the sea with the sun shining. The stem of the dandelion directs you to the movement of one singular seed.”

Upon finding out she was the first-ever SWCP Young Photographer of the Year, Hazel said, “Winning this award has motivated me to keep improving my photography skills. I feel honoured.” 

Photo caption: Clock Watching, Whitsand Bay, South Cornwall
Taken by Hazel Booth (South West Coast Path Young Photographer of the Year)

“A technically good photograph presents the path through a young person's eyes, finding wonder in the small details that we often miss as ‘grown-ups’, encouraging us all to revel in the simple beauty that can be found on every inch of the path.”

Tony Davey, Engagement Officer, The Box, SWCP POTY Judge

“Finding beauty in ordinary subjects that can be found on our coast path is a skill many adults find difficult, but this image shows the young photographer has a good eye. The detail in the seedhead is sharp and it is positioned carefully in the frame.  The understanding of light and selective focus has been used creatively to make a delightful image.”

Susan Brown FRPS, Landscape Photographer and Curator, SWCP POTY Judge


15 JUNE – 27 JULY

You can view all the winning images plus more at the inaugural South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year Exhibition at Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard, Plymouth, 15 June – 27 July. The exhibition is part of a year of celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the South West Coast Path Association and will highlight the diversity, beauty, wildlife, heritage, and seasonality of the coastal environment, on and around the South West Coast Path. 

The South West Coast Path Photographer of the Year 2022 is sponsored by St Austell Brewery.

Published on: March 27, 2023