16 April 2024

Judged by photographers Kevin Maslin, Joe Dixey, Nicola Turner and Bobby MacKenzie.

We were delighted to receive over 150 entries to the 2023 photography competition! Amateur and professional photographers alike took part, and we received some fantastic photographs featuring Britain’s canals and rivers. Some photographs were taken using digital cameras whereas others used mobile phones. Significant advancements in technology have made photography a lot more accessible, which is good as it allows people from all walks of life to participate in competitions such as ours.

Photographs were submitted to the following four categories:

2023 Photography competition categories

People of the Waterways

Photographs of the people who use and love our waterways – from boaters and anglers to paddleboarders, cyclists and walkers.  


Urban Wildlife

The natural world meets urban environment – we want to see the vibrant assortment of insects, mammals and birds that inhabit our towns and cities.  


Protect Our Waterways

This category aims to highlight the threats facing our waterways such as climate change, plastic pollution and invasive species.  


Working Waterways

This category is all about the individuals and organisations who work on our waterways, from freight carrying vessels to paddlesports instructors and everything in between!  

Our judging panel consisted of four exceptional waterways photographers, including Kevin Maslin who judged the competition in both 2022 and 2023. Kevin runs photography walks along the canal and his work has featured in BBC Wildlife and Waterways World magazines, as well as in the popular GeoProjects maps. He is a passionate supporter of the waterways and has attended a number of recent campaigning events including the Fund Britain’s Waterways (FBW) Campaign Cruises in Birmingham and Westminster last year. Kevin has very kindly given us permission to use these photographs in our FBW campaigning materials and elsewhere, such as on the front cover of the Spring 2024 edition of Waterways magazine, for which we are incredibly grateful.

We are also delighted to welcome Joe Dixey to our judging panel this year. Joe is a London-based portrait and documentary photographer who has worked with award-winning photographers such as Ewen Spencer and Phil Sharp. Joe’s photography combines authenticity and artistic skills to produce images that are unique and engaging as demonstrated by the photographs Joe captures at our events. Joe regularly photographs our annual Canalway Cavalcade event in Little Venice and also photographed our 2023 Festival of Water in Pelsall last year.

Joe and Kevin are joined by guest judge Nicola Turner; the winner of our 2022 Photography Competition. Her image of Marple on the Peak Forest Canal was chosen as the winning entry in the competition. After being shortlisted as the judge’s favourite from the British Waterscapes category, Nicola’s photograph beat over 300 entries to be crowned the overall winner of the competition.

Bobby Mackenzie completed the judging panel as our first ever young photography judge. Thirteen-year-old Bobby is one of the ‘Bluebells’, a family of four who live and continuously cruise on their narrowboat named Bluebell. Bobby and his family share their adventures through social media where they have built an impressive following under the name ‘by Bike & Boat’. Bobby is a keen waterways photographer who has captured an impressive selection of images while cruising with his family. We invited Bobby to take part on the judging panel this year in the hope that it may encourage the next generation to take to the towpaths and capture the incredible beauty of our waterways in their photography!

Congratulations to each of the category winners who will all receive £25 to spend in our online shop, plus IWA goodies. Please also join us in congratulating the overall 2023 Photography Competition winner: Nigel Essery, who submitted his photograph of Baswich on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal to the ‘Working Waterways’ category. Nigel will receive a print of his photo. A massive thank you to our judges: Kevin Maslin, Joe Dixey, Nicola Turner and Bobby MacKenzie, for judging the competition – and to everyone who entered. We hope you will enjoy seeing your photographs if they are used in our marketing materials, and that you are looking forward to our 2024 Photography Competition which will open later this year!

WORKING WATERWAYS – overall Photography competition winner

This is a great composition, with the orientation of the boat leading the eye into the photograph to focus on the man steering the boat. The subject of the photo is well framed with plenty of space around the boat and good light and colour in the photo. The colour of the surrounding vegetation contrasts well with the colours of the boat.

It’s clearly a working canal boat and both the boat and the man are characterful and interesting. A really attractive photo.

Although I’ve chosen this photo as the winner in the ‘Working Waterways’ category, the photographer submitted several other very strong entries in this category.

– Nicola Turner

Baswich on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal – Nigel Essery


Locking into teamwork at Milby Lock, Boroughbridge – Mervin Straughan

I selected this photo as it has an old-world charm to it, reminiscent of old paintings that depict people working in the landscape. It showcases the human aspect of the canal, reminding us that despite being a place for leisure, it still requires a lot of effort and dedication.

– Joe Dixey


This was a difficult category to judge, but I do accept that it wasn’t an easy one to interpret. Broadly speaking the entries needed to demonstrate how various man made and natural occurrences can have an adverse effect on the appearance, safety and attractiveness of our waterways.

Now I love old waterside buildings, as they give a sense of history, but when they fall into disrepair and become a potential navigation hazard, such as the former Hat Factory at Atherstone, the outlook becomes entirely different.

I like Marilyn Farmer’s image for two distinct qualities. Firstly, the reflection of the building in the water is full height. There can be a tendency to crop. Secondly the vivid high contrast blue sky is also reflected perfectly. It was clearly taken from onboard a boat and the only thing I would have done differently would have been to lose the handrail in the bottom left corner. But it’s a minor detail that could well have affected the composition as a whole and doesn’t detract from an otherwise excellent picture. 

– Kevin Maslin

Hat Factory at Atherstone – Marilyn Farmer
River Wear – Taha Tariq


Our first ever ‘young photography judge’, Bobby Mackenzie, selected this photograph from Taha Tariq as the winner in the ‘Urban Wildlife’ category which contained over thirty entries. Taha’s photograph features the River Wear which crosses the city of Durham and passes alongside Durham University.