Sony World Photography Awards 2021 Winners

Of the thousands of submissions received for the Sony World Photography Awards, Craig Easton was awarded Photographer of the Year for his “Bank Top” series. Two of the many photos in the series are above. The series provides an authentic look into the community of Blackburn, UK and challenges the media’s and policymaker’s view of similar neighborhoods.

The renowned contemporary photography competition, the Sony World Photography Awards, has announced its winners, marking the competition’s 14th year. Many of the photographers who took home first in their categories captured their diverse and unique cultures and environments through a different lens. 

The competition celebrates diversity and provides a spotlight for emerging photographers.

Each of the photographs submitted were judged by a panel of industry experts in London, and the winning photographers split $60,000 USD between the group. Additionally, the winners are given the newest Sony digital equipment. 

Open Photographer of the Year: African Victorian by Tamary Kudita, Zimbabwe

The Open category competition celebrates single images, and the power they hold. The top photos not only communicate a story, but they also show remarkable technical talent.

The subject of the photograph is a youthful black woman in a Victorian dress with traditional Shona cooking utensils in hand. It shows the multidimensional African female identity by providing an alternative look at the black female body that strays from stereotypes.

“African Victorian pays tribute to the contemporary being who is also rooted in history,” Kudita says of her win.

Student Photographer of the Year: Young Farmers series by Coenraad Heinz Torlage, South Africa 

Torlage was raised on a farm, and wanted to photograph those who chose the profession and responsibility of feeding the nation. 

South Africa has unforgiving terrain, making farming an especially difficult industry. These young farmers are working towards sustainable food equity and security for all South African communities.

Youth Photographer of the Year: Pubarun Basu, India

The 19 year-old competitor chose to create an image that represents the feeling we can have of being confined in a moment or our reality. Basu hopes to continue to develop his skills as he gains experience.

The youth competition caters to developing photographers between the ages of 12 and 19. The young competitors are tasked with submitting a composition that falls into a monthly theme like Street Life, or Composition and Design.

Sport category winner: Sports and Fun Instead of War and Fear series by Anas Alkharboutli, Syrian Arab Republic

A children’s karate school was opened by Wasim Satot in Aljiina, a Syrian village near Aleppo. What makes this school unique is that boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 15, both with and without disabilities, are all taught together.

Alkharboutli’s photographs show Satot’s intentions of creating a community for these children where they can overcome any traumas of the war.

Wildlife and Nature category winner: Locust Invasion in East Africa by Luis Tato, Spain

Billions of desert locusts have infested East Africa, destroying crops in their path. Their destructive nature poses a threat to livelihoods and food supply of African countries and Yemen.

Extreme weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have perpetuated the issue, because the rainfall is creating an ideal environment for them. Restrictions and delays have made it difficult to get the products necessary to fight the swarms.  Tato’s photo series shows how destructive the locusts have been, and the impact they have made on local communities.

Documentary Projects category winner: The Killing Daisy series by Vito Fusco, Italy

Pyrethrum, or the special daisy, contains a chemical compound that has been harnessed to create natural insecticides.

Pyrethrum was used for centuries locally, and then globally beginning in the 20th century. In the 1980s, the pyrethrum crisis led manufacturers to produce inorganic products that could have adverse effects on the environment. Thankfully, today the special daisy industry is growing, and the production area is being restored in Kenya. 

Portfolio category winner: Laura Pannack, United Kingdom

The grouping of photos Pannack submitted  to the competition were representative of several personal projects. To create authentic images that captivate as well as evoke emotions in the audience, her process involves honesty and vulnerability while interacting with the environment and subjects.

Pannack likes to consider elements both outside and inside the frame in order to build connection between her audience and photographs. Symbolism drives her content and composition selections.

Architecture and Design category winner: Eternal Hunting Grounds series by Tomáš Vocelka, Czech Republic

Martin Chlum and Michal Seba renovated an abandoned Drnov military facility to create a final resting place for the community’s pets. The pet crematorium provides a place for pets to be laid to rest, and areas for owners to mourn or find peace.

Petr Hajek, a minimalist Czech architect, designed the photographed space, now known as the Eternal Hunting Grounds. Vocelka photographed the clean architecture and design in a way that spoke to viewers.

Creative category winner: The Moon Revisited series by Mark Hamilton Gruchy, United Kingdom

The photographs in this series were created by using images that were unprocessed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA. Mark Hamilton Gruchy wanted to express both contemporary issues and also those important during the time of the Apollo program.

It shows the unchanging nature of the moon juxtaposed with the constantly changing Earth.

The series shows astronauts doing things like gardening and cooking on the moon, and leaves viewers thinking about how much the world has changed since the Apollo program, but also how we are still dealing with some of the same issues. He has another series that complements The Moon Revisited called Earthbound.

Landscape category winner: Silent Neighborhoods series by Majid Hojjati, Iran

Hojjati’s meaningful series shows how everything changes over time, and something that had one meaning in the past, can take on an entirely new one in the present. He communicated the human need to conquer, and our nature of constantly chasing something new while leaving other things behind.

The series shows the world we leave behind when we move forward, in a literal sense. The city he captures has been left abandoned, with homes, vehicles, and chairs left empty, causing the neighborhood to fall silent. 

Still Life category winner: Just Hogweed by Peter Eleveld, the Netherlands

Eleveld created the series using everyday objects as composition and then applied a wet plate collodion technique. This technique required that he planned meticulously and remained patient.

A photo that seems so simple, can become extraordinary with unique techniques. This is proven in this series through Eleveld’s use of a wet plate over the photo. It creates extra dimension and interest for viewers.

He finds joy watching the photograph finally develop into a unique image that holds a significant amount of meaning. Part of the excitement is the process, because the finished product cannot immediately be seen. The art is not just in the finished product, but also in the process.

Environment category winner: Net-Zero Transition series by Simone Tramonte, Italy

While the pandemic has halted many industries and caused an economic crisis, it also provided nations with an unmatched opportunity to accept and enact sustainable living alternatives.

Iceland has been a nation that welcomed renewable energy, now harnessing 100% of its electricity from renewable resources. They are now a leading force of emission reducing technologies, and provide a guide for other countries to follow in order to increase their sustainability efforts. Tramonte photographed the technologies and the power that they hold.

* partially sourced @ The World Photography Organization

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