The internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards, one of the world’s leading free photography competitions, is now in its 14th year. Recently, the judges released the best submissions they received across multiple categories, from wildlife and architecture to sports and portraits.
More than 100 photographers were shortlisted for the competition alongside the category winners, with the latter now considered for the overall title and a $5,000 prize. Here are some of our favorites.
Locust Invasion in East Africa by Luis Tato, 1st place Wildlife & Nature section. Herny Lenayasa, a Samburu man and chief of the settlement of Archers Post tries to scare away a massive swarm of locust ravaging an area next to Archers Post, Samburu County, Kenya on April 24, 2020. A locust plague fueled by unpredictable weather patterns up to 20 times larger than a wave two months earlier is threatening to devastate parts of East Africa. Locust has made already a devastating appearance in Kenya, two months after voracious swarms -some billions strong- ravaged big areas of land and just as the coronavirus outbreak has begun to disrupt livelihoods. In spite of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, international experts are in place to support efforts to eradicate the pest with measures including ground and aerial spraying. The Covid-19 pandemic has competed for funding, hampered movement and delayed the import of some inputs, including insecticides and pesticides. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has called the locust outbreak, caused in part by climate change, “an unprecedented threat” to food security and livelihoods. Its officials have called this new wave some 20 times the size of the first.
Sea Drops by Angel Fitor, 3rd place Wildlife & Nature section. “I have imagined the ocean as a superorganism, with the world’s seas as its organs, and its creatures as the tissues that interconnect everything. Sinking further down on to it, there is nothing… but sea drops.’ This figurative concept opens Sea Drops, a photo essay aimed to explore the effervescence of life inside drops of sea water. By using lab micropipettes, and a self-designed micro studio setup, the project captures the beauty and manners of live plankton, which are in the range of 200 to 1,500 microns, inside specially lit drops of water. It tells the story of one of Earth’s most pivotal biological communities with an innovative perspective, falling somewhere between art and science. The images reveal the astonishing diversity of creatures otherwise invisible to the naked eye, as well as their amazing behaviour, some of which is likely never to have been documented before. It may even be new to science. From the enthralling beauty of sea sapphires, to the mesmerisingly mysterious dances of annelid worms, the project opens a drop-shaped window to a new world. All specimens were carefully handled under a biologist’s expertise, and released alive and unharmed back into the sea.”
Hymn of the Building Site-9 by Guanghui Gu, 3rd Place, Professional, Architecture & Design. “I often visit this building site in Ninghai County, Zhejiang Province, China for work reasons. Using a drone, I photographed them to show the work that takes place each day.”
Birthday by Brais Lorenzo Couto. Finalist, Professional, Portfolio. “Taken in and around his hometown of Ourense in the region of Galicia, photojournalist Brais Couto presents a series of poignant and dramatic scenes exploring local events and issues ranging from the effects of the pandemic to forest fires and carnival season.”
Inclusive Karate School in Syria 2 by Anas Alkharboutli. Winner, Professional, Sport. “In the Syrian village of Aljiina, near the city of Aleppo, Wasim Satot has opened a karate school for children. What makes it special is that girls and boys with and without disabilities are taught together. They’re aged between six and 15 years old. With his school, Satot wants to create a sense of community and overcome any traumas of war in the minds of the children.”
Drying Fish by Khanh Phan. Winner, Open, Travel. “A woman dries trays of fish at Long Hai fish market in the Vung Tau province of Vietnam. Thousands of trays of scad are dried on rooftops and in yards by hundreds of workers. I came to Long Hai on a photo trip and was overwhelmed by the scale of the fishing village.”
The Horse Next Door by Francesco Lopazio. Shortlist, Open, Street Photography. “A curious horse looks out of its stable window, while a little bird flies away, scared by the prying eye.”
Russia’s Face Slapping Championship 3 by Anton Dotsenko. Shortlist, Professional, Sport. “The main goal of face-slapping contests is to get rid of stress and test one’s stamina. Even though there is an evident element of violence and repugnance in this sport, contestants are fully aware of what happens when they choose to participate.”
Consumer Goods Circulation by Wentao Li. Shortlist, Professional, Environment. “The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion in the next 30 years, according to a United Nations report. We would need the equivalent of almost three planets to provide the natural resources required to sustain our lifestyles in their current state. The impact of consumerism on our environment is reflected in every aspect of our daily lives. This series explores the amazing capabilities humans have for production, circulation, and consumption.”
The Moon Revisited by Mark Hamilton Gruchy, 1st place, Creative category. “This body of work is made up of previously unprocessed images from Nasa and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I have made my own images to express not only contemporary issues, but also some that were relevant at the time of the Apollo missions. These are sourced from copyright-free materials that I have repurposed, processed and composited to create a conversation about the unchanging aspect of the Moon contrasted with the Earth, which continues to be a dynamic place where change cannot be prevented”
No Escape from Reality, Youth photographer of the year. “I created this picture with the idea of representing the feeling of being trapped in a moment, or in one’s own reality. Participating in this competition has given me a fresh perspective on my art. I have seen some extraordinary photographs by my fellow youth photographers, and I take immense pride in the fact that my generation has such brilliant minds. I aspire to improve myself as an artist and would like to express my gratitude to my friends and family for always encouraging me to go the extra mile.”
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.