What do you get when you cross a superb eye for detail with some nifty camera skills? An award-winning shot.
The stunning winning images of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards have been revealed.
The coveted photographer of the year title was presented to 35-year-old Italian artist Federico Borella for his series Five Degrees.
The photographer, who was awarded a $25,000 (£19,200) cash prize, used his images to explore the link between male suicide in a drought-hit region of southern India and climate change.
In total, there were 10 categories and it’s a wonder the judges were able to come to any kind of decision, because the standards were sky-high. One jaw-dropper was the open category winner – an ethereal underwater shot taken in Hawaii. For the student category winner, the judges picked out an image of skilled orange pickers in Spain and in the landscape category the gong went to a picture of a redevelopment project in China.
Scroll down to see some of the winning entries from the 326,997 submissions, which are also on show at Somerset House in London until May 6. Which one catches your eye?
Nashville-based Hawaiian photographer Christy Lee Rogers was named the open photographer of the year for her work, called Harmony, and received a $5,000 prize. This image was selected from 10 ‘open category’ winners as the most captivating standalone photo. Rogers is an internationally exhibited artist known for using water and lighting in her photographic works to create dramatic effects. This image was shot underwater in Hawaii. Christy said she ‘used the surface of a pool as a canvas, utilizing natural effects like the refraction of light with movement to bend reality’
Sergi Villanueva from Spain was named the student photographer of the year. The 25-year-old was chosen by the judges from submissions worldwide for his photographic series La Terreta. He wanted to use photography to explore his homeland through the local orange farming and harvesting process. He explained: ‘The orange tree is the essence of my land, it maintains the feeling of belonging and leaves the door open to future generations, spreading a message about the value of taking care of what nature gives us as a part of our identity’
The coveted photographer of the year title was presented to Italian artist Federico Borella for his series Five Degrees. He used his images to explore the link between male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India – which is facing its worst drought in 140 years – and climate change. Pictured left is Rasathi, 56, the wife of Selvarasy, a farmer who committed suicide on May 2017 by hanging himself in his field aged 65 after getting into debt. Right, a human skull found in the area
The youth photographer of the year award was handed to 18-year-old Atlanta-based student Zelle Westfall. She submitted a striking single image of her friend (pictured left) in response to the theme ‘diversity’. She said she wanted the portrait of her friend to highlight the ‘beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are too dark’. On the right is an image by Sergi Villanueva, who won the student photographer of the year award with his series focused on the orange industry in his home country of Spain. He represented Universidad Jaume I in Valencia and won €30,000-worth of Sony photography equipment for the institution
Yan Wang Preston came first in the landscape category with her series To the South of the Colourful Clouds. Preston’s series illustrates an ‘otherworldly’ ecology recovery landscape project in Dali, Yunnan Province, China. The series, which is part of an eight-year project, reveals the conversion of a rural stretch of land into a leisure town
Yan, who is a British-Chinese artist based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, says the vibrant colours visible in the landscape are a ‘result of semi-artificial soil that forms the base for non-indigenous plants, including many mature trees’
Jasper Doest from the Netherlands came first in the natural world and wildlife category with his series Meet Bob. Bob is a Caribbean flamingo, from the Dutch island of Curaçao. His life took a dramatic turn when he flew into a hotel window, leaving him severely concussed. He was cared for by Odette Doest, a local vet who also runs a wildlife rehabilitation centre and conservation charity
Because of his injuries, Bob the flamingo can’t be released into the wild and he is now an ambassador for conservation charity Fundashon Dier en Onderwijs Cariben (FDOC), which educates locals about the importance of protecting the Curaçao’s wildlife. Above, Bob gives a house cat a scare
Stephan Zirwes from Germany came first in the architecture category with his striking series Cut Outs – Pools 2018. He used a drone to shoot aerial shots of swimming spots while they were devoid of swimmers
Explaining why he chose swimming pools as his muse, Stephan says: ‘In Germany, pools are public. They are part of social and cultural life, open for all kind of social classes, a place where people spend a lot of time, especially in childhood and which leave pleasant memories. Everybody can afford the inexpensive entrance fee’
Rebecca Fertinel from Belgium came first in the ‘brief’ category with her series Ubuntu – I Am Because We Are. For this category entrants were asked to compose a body of work on a specific theme. The inaugural theme for 2019 was ‘identity’. Rebecca entered shots from a wedding, where she witnessed the warmth of the Congolese community in Belgium
Rebecca said she wanted to capture the Bantu concept of ‘ubuntu’ – that you only really become human when you are ‘connected to everything and everyone’. The photographer added: ‘I tried to capture the feeling of an event that seems like a true celebration, focused on joy and ritual and not on the need for a perfect venue’
Nicolas Gaspardel and Pauline Baert from France scored first place in the still life category with their series Yuck. They say that their creative approach is ‘composed of antithesis’, with unexpected ingredients colliding
Photographers Nicolas and Pauline say that food is at the centre of their ideas and their signature look includes ‘pop tones’ and ‘tight shots’. They add: ‘Dali amused himself by composing works with irrational associations of forms, images and objects. Maurizio Cattelan, meanwhile, focuses on the subversion of symbols and provocation. We are somewhere in between, with a more general than personal point of view and a desire to give ugliness an artificial beauty’
Marinka Masséus from the Netherlands came first in the creative category with her series ‘Chosen [not] to be’. She explains that her project ‘reflects on the reality of people with Down’s syndrome – the barriers they face, society’s refusal to see their capabilities, the invisibility of their true selves – and translates their experiences visually’
Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni from Italy came first in the ‘discovery’ category with their series Güle Güle. They discovered how Bosporus boat wedding parties are a very popular choice among young couples, ‘in particular for long-time established middle class immigrants from the Eastern countries, like Armenians, Iraqi and Afghans’
Left, a winning shot from Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni showing a young Syrian refugee in Tarlabasi, Turkey. The photographers discovered that she lost both her parents during the war and was taken to Istanbul by some family friends, who now take care of her. Right, a portrait from Marinka Masséus’ winning series focused on people with Down’s syndrome and the barriers they face
Álvaro Laiz from Spain came first in the portraiture category with his series The Edge. He captured members of a Paleo-Siberian tribe from the Russian side of the Bering Strait known as the Chukchi. Explaining his project, the photographer said: ‘In Chukchi culture, past, present and future are intimately linked. You are not just you: you are your father, your grandfather and your great-grandfather, back to the first Bering Strait hunter. Thanks to population genetics research we are now certain that the first Chukchi hunters left their genetic footprint in all Native American people when they first settled in America. The Edge combines this poetic yet powerful idea of shared memory and science through population genetics data analysis for every participant’
Alessandro Grassani from Italy came first in the sport category with his series Boxing Against Violence: The Female Boxers Of Goma Democratic Republic of Congo. Alessandro photographed 18 year-old boxer Blandini on a building site where she occasionally spends her nights. Explaining why she took up boxing, she said: ‘We live under the threat of being beaten and violated by men, in a general condition of discrimination. I was kicked out of my family by my mother’s second husband and found myself on the streets. For a living I do little jobs at people’s houses, although my biggest concerns are about defending myself. That’s why I do boxing – to prepare myself for life, to become a champion and maybe earn a living. My husband left me when my second child was born, leaving me completely unprotected. Once I was covered with petroleum by a group of men and set alight like a candle. The scars on my neck and my arm are the reminder of that night’