The World Photography Organization has released the striking finalists and short-listed images in the Professional category competition for the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year — photos that were chosen from more than 156,000 submissions, a new record in the history of the prestigious award now in its 15th year.
Evocative portraits, wild foxes at night, the aftermath of wildfires and unforgettable photos of the U.S. Capitol riot are among the finalist competing this year for the free-to-enter Professional competition honoring the technical excellence and a fresh perspective on contemporary subjects by some of the world's most talented photographers.
The 2022 Sony World Photography Awards rewards the photographers’ body of work of several images in 10 categories: Architecture & Design, Wildlife & Nature, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portfolio, Portraiture, Sports and Still Life.
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“The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 finalists and shortlisted shots are as diverse, challenging and, I believe, as powerful as ever,” said jury chairperson Mike Trow. “The standard of work in the Professional competition surprised me in its depth and variety. At points, we all may have felt that the ongoing Covid crisis meant that the world had shut down, but when reviewing these projects it is clear nothing could be further from the truth.”
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The winning Photographer of the Year 2022, chosen from the Professional finalists, takes a $25,000 prize and, along with the winners of other World Photography competitions, will be announced on April 12.
A selection of images by finalists and shortlisted photographers will be exhibited at London's Somerset House from April 13 to May 2, 2022.
The photo above is one of’ Rock and Faith’ by Areshina Nadezhda, a visual story dedicated to the Old Ritualist settlements in Russia’s Altay mountains. The members of these communities profess the ‘true faith’, a form of worship that existed before reform was introduced to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 17th century.
The Kuarup is a ritual of the Xingu Indigenous Brazilian to honor the illustrious dead. It serves as the farewell and closing of a mourning period.
The celebration takes place once a year in different villages and lasts for three days. The highlight of this celebration is a competition of a martial art called Huka-huka, similar to the Greco-Roman wrestling fight, which has competitive symbolism that shows the strength and virility of young men. This photo is one of series taken during a Kuarup celebration in the Afukuri village of the Kuikuro ethnic group. This year’s ritual honored those who died from 2020 to 2021. Four of five were victims of Covid-19.
Wildlife And Landscapes
“Over eight months, I spent almost every night sitting at the window of my cottage in the middle of the forest – where wild animals live almost as neighbours of the villagers,” the photographer explains. “The young vixen appears in the village after dusk and goes around for an hour and a half. I named her Roxy. She always surprises me, showing a new side and I have had to solve many technical and physical challenges in the process of photographing her. During lockdown, both sides were forced to adjust: man to the wilds of the forest; animals to the human environment.
“The ‘Tree’ project was born of the Covid-19 lockdown,” the photographer explains. “Unable to photograph people, I turned to my love of trees, inspired by my home county of Wiltshire, where the distinctive landscape features many knolls with lone trees raised above the horizon line. I chose to photograph against dusk skies and lit the trees with drones to create an otherworldly impression.”
“This image is part of the ‘Absolute Beginner’ series “documenting the tragic beauty of disruptions to nature happening before our eyes,” the photographer says. “The shots, taken in my local area, are meant to draw attention to the esoteric signs that nature gives us at every step.”
Developed during the Jurassic and Tertiary period, this is a red rock system in the Himalayan orogeny. With the uplift of the Earth's crust, the hillside retreated – mainly colapsing. The remaining red sandstone formed after long-term weathering, exfoliation and water erosion, resulting in strange rocks and stones.
Following a ‘Save America’ rally held by President Donald Trump, a mob of thousands of his supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol and fought their way into the building on January 6, 2021.
Jacob Chansley, also known as the Qanon shaman, cries “Freedom” inside the U.S. Senate chamber in Washington, D.C.
Expert bushmeat hunter Nkani Mbou Mboudin returns home with an antelope he just shot in the forest near his village close to Lastoursville, Gabon. This village survives on fishing and bushmeat.
Gabon has a sustainable bushmeat culture, largely because of its small population and large protected habitats.
This photo is one of a series of bushmeat-hunter portraits taken in Guyana, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. These men are seen in an age-old act, bringing animals they have hunted back to their villages. Some of these men are hunting on behalf of other, wealthier men while others are hunting for their families. In all cases, little of what they hunt is consumed in the village. Bushmeat commands a high price, which increases as it gets to major cities.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were postponed for a year and held under highly unusual circumstances. Athletes and media were kept inside a bubble and tested every day, with no fans to witness the greatest sporting show on earth.
This photo appears in a series the photographer took trying to find unique and challenging angles to minimise the visual impact of not having crowds, fans or atmosphere and also to illustrate the beauty and strength of the athletes. “It was perhaps the most challenging Olympics I have ever been part of,” Pretty said, “and I can only imagine what a roller coaster of emotions the athletes were experiencing.”
Fans of the football club Bohemians Prague 1905 are among the most loyal in the Czech Republic. They’ve helped the club financially when it was struggling to survive. Their loyalty, zeal and devotion to the club didn’t waver even when spectators were banned from watching football matches due to the Covid pandemic. Not wanting to miss a home match under any circumstances, they brought ladders and watched the matches over the wall of the football stadium.
“Capturing the wrestling finals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in August 2021 was one of the highlights of my Games coverage,” Kanaris said. “It’s one of the original sports from the ancient Olympics and it’s a great show of strength, toughness, resilience and skill.”
Traditions And Expressions
The Caryatis series is a study of Greek women’s traditional costumes deriving from different periods in Greece’s rich history. This project evolved from Tatakis’ previous work, Ethos, which looked at Greek traditions and customs. Each photograph is meticulously staged: Postures, attitudes and even hand placements are all typical of the area from which the costume originates.
The “Uninterested Expression” series reflects a person’s inner world that can be communicated without words or objects. The portraits don’t capture the image the person wants to present to the world but, rather, leaves the viewer to interpret what is happening.
“At the beginning of 2021, I started to photograph people in the streets of Kabul,” the photographer explains. “Foreign forces were to leave Afghanistan later in the year, and the portraits focused on those who would remain – predominantly, Afghans who sold goods or services in the streets and earned little.
“Everyone I photographed had different expectations for the future. No one expected to be living under the Taliban’s strict Islamic rule by the year’s end. However, on 15 August 2021, the Taliban seized Afghanistan's capital, and it instantly transformed the portraits into images of a bygone era – one meant to provide hope for Afghans, but which ultimately failed many of them.”
By September, nearly the entire country risked sinking into poverty, according to the United Nations, which warned of a “rapid, catastrophic deterioration in the lives of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable,” including many of those who made a living in the streets.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the desertification wrought by climate change in recent years has already extensively reduced agricultural productivity in many regions of the world.
Agriculture represents 70% of freshwater use around the globe and with the world’s population projected to increase to 10 billion by the end of the century, it has become imperative to find alternative and ecologically-sustainable methods of cultivation.
Nemo’s Garden is the world’s first underwater greenhouse, offering a possible solution.
This completely self-sustainable project explores an alternative farming system that could be implemented in areas where environmental or geo-morphological conditions make the growth of plants almost impossible. The encouraging results of the last few years, where more than 40 different species of plants have been successfully cultivated, gives hope to a sustainable agricultural system.
The Nemo's Garden biospheres seen here from the water surface are located 40 meters off the Noli shore, a small village on the Ligurian coast. Their depth lies between six and 12 meters to enable the plants to draw light for their development. The core of the experiment is to grow terrestrial plants underwater.
It's common to think that ’wet markets’ exist only in Asian countries. But in Italy, there are also fairs at which thousands of exotic animals are displayed and sold for huge profit.
At these fairs, the animals — including snakes, birds, insects and reptile — are exhibited like goods to be sold to collectors as well as to families. They’re often stressed, kept in plastic trays the same size as the animals they contain, and available for anyone to touch. Among the stands, it's not uncommon to find animals that are solitary by nature, forced to live in groups, as well as animals with a strong social nature isolated in plastic boxes.
There’s also the question of potential risks to human health.
Markets for wildlife and exotic animals create multiple health risks as they bring together animals from different environments in uncertain health conditions and place them in highly stressful circumstances — a perfect match for diseases and pandemics.
The racist attack on February 19, 2020, in Hanau, Hessen, shook German society. In the following weeks and months, while the city was still reeling from the shock, solidarity groups and initiatives began forming to support the survivors of the attack. This photograph of one of the survivors appears in a series to bring intimate access to the families and friends affected.
The photo is one of a selection of images taken over recent years evoking quiet, isolated, reflective moments during the pandemic.
Carlos Soyos, 34, a migrant from Guatemala City, Guatemala, and his son, Enderson Soyos, 8, at the El Buen Samaritano migrants shelter in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico on April 28, 2021.
They had been in Juarez for 20 days and traveled by bus. “I want to go to the USA to get medical treatment for my son,” Carlos said. “In Guatemala, I couldn’t get good treatment because I didn’t have the money to pay for it.”
Enderson is autistic with West syndrome, tuberous sclerosis. They tried to cross the border once and were caught by border patrol, fingerprinted and deported. “I am going to New York to meet my wife,” he said. His wife and two daughters, age 12 and 6, are already in there.
The image is one of a series of self-portraits of migrants in Mexico as they wait to cross the U.S. border. The life of a migrant at the border, waiting for the right moment to cross into the United States, is often in flux.
“To capture a piece of this uncertain journey,” Ferguson said, “I mounted a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the migrants to choose the moment of capture and give them agency in the process of documenting their lives.”
The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela series depicts scenes of the desperation and abject poverty of Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia.
Venezuela’s economic collapse has left many with no access to emergency aid, shelter, clean drinking water or food. Children pay the highest price.
More than 8.5 million people have crossed the border into Colombia and are in urgent need of help.
The image appears among a set of ten images taken between 2020 and 2021 covering a variety of topics: immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border, the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and fires on the West Coast among others.
Francisco Antonio Navarro, 34, an asylum -seeking migrant from Honduras, cradles his nine-month-old daughter, Megan, from the early-morning cold and wind as they await transport to a processing center after entering Texas via a raft across the Rio Grande River on March 25, 2021.
Over 750 migrants crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in La Joya and nearby areas early morning on March 25, agents on the scene said, and slept along a border road next to farmland for hours before being transported to a Border Patrol processing facility.
Francisco and this family were eventually granted asylum and currently reside with relatives in Mississippi.
In recent years, thousands of migratory birds in Iran’s Miankaleh Wetland have died from an unknown cause. This image is part of a series on the efforts by environmental groups to collect and bury birds.
Transforming the landscape
Kazakhstan renamed its capital Nur-Sultan in honor of its former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who resigned in 2019 after holding power for three decades. Formerly known as Akmola (‘white tomb’) and later Astana (‘the capital’), the city was first designated as the capital by Nazarbayev in 1997, replacing Almaty.
Until then, it was only a remote corner of the former Soviet Union, a region known for its icy climate and for hosting one of Stalin's notorious Gulags. Conceived by Nazarbayev, Nur-Sultan was designed to befit a country rich in minerals and oil. He recruited the talents of renowned architects such as Sir Norman Foster and over time constructed a city of concrete and glass, full of impressive futuristic buildings, huge shopping centers and sports halls.
What was once a forgotten and inhospitable territory is today a city of 800,000 inhabitants, as incredible and eccentric as any of its wealthier neighbors.
Every city has its own unique history and personality. The photographer combines the diverse impressions, discoveries and events of a place into one picture.
The compositions are inspired by vedute of the 17th and 18th centuries, but in a contemporary reality that includes objects of street art, public art, advertising signs and shopping areas as symbols of everyday urban life.
Using digital collage techniques to merge a large number of individual images, cityscapes turn into something between documentation and staging. All single photos were taken in Spain, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Morocco and Germany.