The World Photography Organisation has announced the overall winners of this year’s Sony World Photography Awards. After announcing Open contest winners and shortlists, as well as stunning National Awards winners, SWPA now shares with us “the best of the best.”
Australian photographer Adam Ferguson has won the Photographer of the Year title, but there are more photos to admire. The contest has also awarded Open Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, Student Photographer of the Year, as well as Professional category winners.
Professional Photographer of the Year
Adam Ferguson was named Professional Photographer of the Year, and this category was judged based on a series of photos. The prestigious title brought him a $25,000 USD cash prize and a Sony photography kit. And in addition to winning the overall contest, Ferguson’s series was also awarded the best in the Portraiture category.
Ferguson’s winning series Migrantes is a collection of black and white self-portraits of migrants in Mexico, taken as they waited to cross the border into the United States. Photographed in collaboration with the subjects, Ferguson set up the scene for each image, mounting a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release, and then stepped back, allowing the individuals to choose the moment of capture and participate in the process of documenting their lives.
Accompanied by Mexican journalists Ernesto Rodríguez, Silvia Cruz, Noe Gea Medina, and Laura Monica Cruz Flores, Ferguson approached migrants staying in shelters near the border. He recorded their often harrowing stories and worked with them to stage and capture the image in a relaxed space where they would feel less self-conscious. He chose black and white film as a way of canceling the chaotic medley of background colors, as well as stripping the image down to its emotional value.
“What Adam Ferguson has done on the US / Mexico border with migrant families and individuals is deeply compassionate and moving,” said Mike Trow, Chair of the 2021 Professional competition.
“This set of portraits speaks volumes about how moral intentionality and respect can help avoid some of that sense of manipulation and invasion of the private which photography is often accused of. By giving his subjects the shutter release Adam hands a certain power to the sitter to make that decision on how to be perceived. These photographs are beautiful, meaningful and kind. There were other stories that we as a jury admired deeply but Adam’s series stood out because it speaks so eloquently and warmly of people under hardship but who hold on to their decency and love regardless of place and wealth.”
The photographer commented on his win and said:
“Through collaborating with migrants, this series of photographs was an attempt to make images that inspired empathy, rather than sympathy. By surrendering the control of capture and giving each migrant agency in the process of their representation, I hoped to subvert the narrative of marginalization and create a story that felt more human, relatable and honest. I’m grateful to the brave and resilient individuals who agreed to work with me, and receive this award on behalf of them also. Winning the Photographer of the Year award gives this story another life. It allows a new audience to connect with the important stories of the individuals who shared their story with me.”
Open Photographer of the Year
Scott Wilson from the United Kingdom was pronounced Open photographer of the Year, and he was rewarded based on a single image. Wilson won for his powerful photo Anger Management entered in the Natural World & Wildlife category. The black and white image depicts a dirt-caked wild mustang kicking up a dust storm in northwestern Colorado. The picture was taken shortly after the stallion plunged himself into a mud pool to protect itself from summer bugs, and while pounding the ground to let competing males know he was ready to fight for his spot at a nearby watering hole.
Youth Photographer of the Year
Youth Photographer of the Year Best wards the best single image taken by any photographer aged 12-19. This year, it was awarded to 18-year-old Tri Nguyen from Vietnam. His image Under The Moonlight shows a young man basking in artificial moonlight standing against a derelict background. The moonlight symbolizes a spotlight shining on the young man, and his longing to accept his flaws. The photo is part of a series that investigates self-reflection and a yearning to break the mold and celebrate one’s imperfections.
Student Photographer of the Year
Ezra Bohm from the Netherlands is the 2022 Student Photographer of the year. This category awards the series of work taken by any student aged 30 and under. His series The Identity of Holland was created in response to the brief Connections which challenged students to present a story that highlights how they, or someone they have documented, interact with the world.
For his winning series, Bohm photographed the residents of close-knit communities in the Netherlands who maintain a traditional way of life, highlighting their extraordinarily detailed customary dress and their connection to Dutch cultural history.
Professional Category winners
Winning photographers in the Professional competition have been selected by a panel of expert judges for submitting an outstanding body of work of five to ten images. Their photos cover a wide range of topics: stories of political and climate crises, personal meditations on family and loss, and creative approaches to still life and nature photography.
Here are this year’s winners:
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
WILDLIFE & NATURE:
Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition
Like every year (well, except when the pandemic was raging), The Sony World Photography Awards exhibition opens at Somerset House in London. It starts tomorrow (13 April) and lasts until 2 May 2022. There’s also a virtual exhibition for us who live far, far away from London, and you can view it here.
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