Black bears peacefully coexisting in people’s backyards, an artists’ collective tackling plastic pollution through elaborate costumes, and the untold story of life along a “dying river” are waiting to be discovered at the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition, opening April 14th at Somerset House in the heart of London.
The culmination of the highly anticipated, free-to-enter annual photography competition by the World Photography Organization, the show provides a multifaceted portrait of the human experience and the environment, touching on moments of loss, hope, and transformation. Now in its 16th edition, the awards drew a stunning 415,000 image submissions from more than 200 countries, making for a truly global exhibition.
With more than 800 images on show, the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition presents countless opportunities for contemplation and discovery. Adam Ferguson, who won the 2022 Photographer of the Year title, will also exhibit new work from his series Silent Wind, Roaring Sky, an eight-year exploration of small towns throughout the Australian Outback, a landscape deeply affected by climate change and globalization.
This year’s winner of the $25,000 prize is Edgar Martins, recognized for his project Our War, made in the aftermath of the abduction and killing of his friend, the photojournalist Anton Hammerl, during the Libyan Civil War. The project took him to Libya, where he met and photographed some of the people Hammerl met before his death as well as people who brought back memories of their friendship. Martins will have a solo presentation as part of next year’s exhibition.
This year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award is Rinko Kawauchi, known for her poetic and sublime visions of quiet, everyday moments. Joining previous winners such as Edward Burtynsky, Eve Arnold, Mary Ellen Mark, and William Eggleston, she will have around twenty images on display as part of this year’s exhibition.
The Sony World Photography Awards comprise multiple categories, including the Professional competition for outstanding bodies of work, spanning ten categories: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portfolio, Portraiture, Sport, Still Life, and Wildlife & Nature.
The 2023 Student Photographer of the Year is Long Jing, who has won €30,000 of Sony digital imaging equipment for his university, Yunnan Arts University. The winning series follows performers at the opera in Yunnan as they work to keep Chinese opera alive.
Seventeen-year-old Hai Wang has won the title of Youth Photographer of the Year for his photograph of a canceled school ceremony, left deserted amid the pandemic. Also represented in the exhibition are the winners and shortlisted photographers from the Alpha Female Award, Latin America Professional Award, and the National & Regional Awards, the last of which had 55 participating countries.
Standouts from the event include several projects exploring our uncertain relationship with the natural world. In his series The Dying River, Jonas Kakó sheds light on a crisis on the Colorado River, exacerbated by drought and decreased snowfall brought by climate change. Corey Arnold uncovers the surprisingly complex relationship between people and wildlife in Cities Gone Wild, a project about unlikely animals who’ve adapted to life in urban environments across the United States.
In Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colin Delfosse photographed a collective of performance artists who make costumes from rubbish (such as single-use plastics) to raise awareness about environmental degradation, pollution, overconsumption, and inequality.
Moments of resilience, mystery, and beauty in nature punctuate the exhibition as well. The winner of the Open Photographer of the Year title (for single images) is Dinorah Graue Obscura, who receives $5,000. Her photograph, Mighty Pair, captures the majesty of two crested caracara birds during the artist’s trip to Southern Texas.
The inaugural $5,000 Sustainability Prize, introduced just this year, went to Alessandro Cinque for his work Atrapanieblas (Fog Nets), a series documenting an imaginative approach to tackling water shortages in Lima, Peru, where fog nets are being used to capture moisture.
The London exhibition welcomes an estimated 25,000 visitors annually, and countless others will get to experience this vast collection of photography through the Sony World Photography Awards book, now available for pre-order.
While many of the extraordinary projects featured throughout the exhibition tell local stories, they carry significant global weight, asking difficult questions while also providing potential paths forward. These highlights are just part of what makes this year’s Sony World Photography Awards exhibition so special, bringing to light urgent challenges and possible solutions that until now have largely remained overlooked.
Feature Shoot readers can use the Offer Code ‘FS23’ to redeem 15% off on the standard and concession tickets to the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 exhibition, so book your visit today!