A photo busy historic high street scene is composed through a silhouetted timber-framed window. You can see traditional handing signs, black and white buildings and a church at the far end of the high street.
Ciara Leeming, from Picturing High Streets Residency in Chester, 2022. © Ciara Leeming
Ciara Leeming, from Picturing High Streets Residency in Chester, 2022. © Ciara Leeming

Picturing High Streets: Major National Photography Competition Launched

Today (Wednesday, 28 September 2022) Historic England and Photoworks invite people to look at the high street as never before, charting and celebrating the history and experiences of the people and places that make up an often-overlooked fixture in all our lives.

Over the next 12 months, people are encouraged to respond to a fortnightly challenge that uncovers the secret life of the high street, posting their own photographs on Instagram using #PicturingHighStreets. From celebrating local high street heroes that make our places so special; capturing favourite hang outs and meeting places; to recording the hidden heritage of our high streets: the most evocative photographs will be featured on the Picturing High Streets Instagram channel.

High streets are at the heart of communities. We know their future feels uncertain and high streets are facing a pivotal moment in their long history. It’s time to get out there, rediscover our high streets, and tell the stories behind the shopfronts.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England
Photoworks is super excited to see your images of the high street! Next time you’re popping to the high street why not take a snap and share. We are looking forward to seeing the breadth of photography from around the country.
Shoair Mavlian, Director Photoworks

A selection of photographs submitted before 21 December 2022 will form a national outdoor exhibition opening in Spring 2023 filling Clear Channel advertising space, outdoor exhibition panels and shop windows on high streets across England. These photographs – alongside a selection of others submitted from January 2023 onwards – will also enter the Historic England Archive, the nation’s archive for England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history.

Find out more to get involved

Designer and retail expert Wayne Hemingway will join the renowned artist Camille Walala, best known for her large-scale murals that transform public spaces, as judges to help choose the winning images to go into the national touring exhibition. Ben Hope, Marketing Director at Clear Channel and Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England will also take part in the judging.

The most exciting high streets are the ones that allow creativity and experimentation to thrive. I’m looking forward to seeing how these images capture the high street’s reinvention.
Wayne Hemingway, Designer

50 photographs will feature in an England-wide outdoor exhibition in Spring 2023, including across Clear Channel advertising spaces, seen by millions.

Designer and retail expert Wayne Hemingway MBE, artist Camille Walala and Ben Hope from Clear Channel to choose winning images.

A year-long project, fortnightly photographic challenges will feature on dedicated Instagram channel @PicturingHighStreets until October 2023, the public submissions forming an unofficial record of the English high street and a selection entering the Historic England Archive

Project part of a three-year commission creating a contemporary picture of England’s high streets as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone Cultural Programme, the largest ever community-led arts and heritage programme

Judging panel

Name and role

Wayne Hemingway MBE

Title and organisation
Designer and retail expert
Co-founded HemingwayDesign with his wife Gerardine in 1981 Their first success was in founding the iconic Red or Dead brand .Since then it has grown to become an award-winning multi- disciplinary design studio with a portfolio of successful projects that traverses disciplines and sectors, and with clients including international brands and household names as well as numerous towns, cities and places across the UK.

Name and role

Camille Walala

Title and organisation
Known for her ambitious, large-scale and explosively colourful interventions in public spaces, Camille Walala uses the man-made landscape as a platform for disseminating positivity. Her work encompasses full-facade murals, immersive 3D installations, street art, interiors and set design – characterised by a fusion of bold colours and playful geometric patterns.

Name and role

Ben Hope

Title and organisation
Marketing Director at Clear Channel UK
A proud northerner and a member and champion of the LGBT community, he has over 10 years’ experience in the marketing and advertising industry across brands and media owners in both Out of Home and digital. He is passionate about well-designed, carefully crafted, clever and creative communications. A CIM and University of Teesside graduate. 
Our high streets can be canvasses for culture and expression, transforming how people feel about their local place. I can’t wait to see how the images we choose for the exhibition can inject hope and positivity on to our high streets.
Camille Walala, Artist
We’re so excited to support this major photography project to showcase what makes our high streets so special. Our medium is perfectly placed to bring art to communities up and down the country and we’re looking forward to sharing the successful images with millions of people across England.
Martin Corke, CMO Clear Channel

High street cultural programme

The high street cultural programme is part of the £95 million funding from the government for the High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme, which is breathing new life into over 60 high streets across England.

Culture and heritage re-connects people to their high streets and helps people rediscover, celebrate and shape them through renovations to important historic buildings in high streets and community engagement, including:

  • Poetry
  • Film
  • Music
  • Performance
  • Photography

Learn more about the programme