New York, NY—The World Photography Organization (WPO) revealed the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards Professional, Open, Student and Youth winners at a gala ceremony in London. Moreover, the 2023 Photographer of the Year title was awarded to the acclaimed photographer Edgar Martins (Portugal) for his series Our War.
The series is a homage to Martins’s friend, photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed during the Libyan Civil War in 2011.
Martins was selected from the 10 category winners of the Professional competition, who were also announced at the gala. He won a $25,000 cash prize and Sony digital imaging equipment. In addition, he will receive a solo presentation of his work as part of next year’s Sony World Photography Awards exhibition. This opportunity allows photographers to further develop their winning project or exhibit a new body of work, gaining them additional exposure.
The Sony World Photography Awards 2023 exhibition is held at Somerset House, London from April 14 to May 1, 2023. It features 200+ prints and hundreds of additional images in digital displays from winning and shortlisted photographers. Also presented are works by this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography, the esteemed Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi.
2023 Photographer of the Year
Our War by Edgar Martins is a nuanced tribute to the photographer’s late friend, photojournalist Anton Hammerl. Hammerl was abducted and killed on April 5, 2011, by government militia, during the Libyan Civil War.
Frustrated by unsuccessful attempts to ascertain the whereabouts of his friend’s remains, Martins took matters into his own hands. He was brought into Libya covertly by a petrol smuggler and was immediately faced with enormous challenges. Realizing he could not carry out an independent investigation, Martins chose to reflect on the question: How does one tell a story when there is no witness, no testimony, no evidence, no subject?
In Our War, Martins alludes to the absent central figure through a series of portraits of the people Hammerl had connected with and those involved in the fighting. They were chosen because they either resembled him, had similar ideas and beliefs or reminded Martins of him at different stages of their friendship. The project explores the idea of absence—documenting, grieving and honoring a subject. It also reflects on the role of photography within a conflict zone.
“It is a huge honor to be recognized. Although I am philosophical about awards and the subjective nature of someone’s choice, knowing that there were over 180,000 entries to this year’s Professional competition, is very humbling,” Martins commented.
“In this case, it is also quite an emotional experience because I get to honor my friend on a world stage and bring attention to the family’s plight to find his remains. There’s no award that has the reach of the Sony World Photography Awards.”
Professional Category Winners
In addition, winning photographers in the Professional competition were selected by a panel of expert judges for submitting a body of work of five to 10 images. They range from stories of war and reconciliation to the empowerment of women through education as well as original approaches to the genres of still life and sport.
All category winners receive a Sony digital imaging kit. This year’s category winners as well as second- and third-place photographers follow.
Architecture & Design
Winner: Fan Li (China Mainland), Cement Factor
Finalists: 2nd place, Servaas Van Belle (Belgium); 3rd place, Andres Gallardo Albajar (Spain)
Winner: Lee-Ann Olwage (South Africa), The Right to Play
Finalists: 2nd place, Noemi Comi (Italy); 3rd place, Edoardo Delille & Giulia Piermartiri (Italy)
Winner: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham (United Kingdom), The Women’s Peace Movement in Congo
Finalists: 2nd place, Mohammed Salem (State of Palestine); 3rd place, Tariq Zaidi (United Kingdom)
Winner: Marisol Mendez (Bolivia) & Federico Kaplan (Argentina), Miruku
Finalists: 2nd place, Jonas Kakó (Germany); 3rd place, Axel Javier Sulzbacher (Germany)
Winner: Kacper Kowalski (Poland), Event Horizon
Finalists: 2nd place, Bruno Zanzottera (Italy); 3rd place, Fabio Bucciarelli (Italy)
Winner: James Deavin (United Kingdom), Portfolio
Finalists: 2nd place, Marylise Vigneau (France); 3rd place, Marjolein Martinot (Netherlands)
Winner: Edgar Martins (Portugal), Our War
Finalists: 2nd place, Ebrahim Noroozi (Islamic Republic of Iran); 3rd place, Jean-Claude Moschetti (France)
Winner: Al Bello (United States), Female Pro Baseball Player Succeeds in All Male Pro League
Finalists: 2nd place, Andrea Fantini (Italy); 3rd place, Nicola Zolin (Italy)
Winner: Kechun Zhang (China Mainland), The Sky Garden
Finalists: 2nd place, Carloman Macidiano Céspedes Riojas (Peru); 3rd place, Jagoda Malanin (Poland)
Wildlife & Nature
Winner: Corey Arnold (United States), Cities Gone Wild
Finalists: 2nd place, Adalbert Mojrzisch (Germany); 3rd place, Sriram Mural (India)
Open Photographer of the Year
The Open competition celebrates the power of a single image. Winning photographs are chosen for their ability to communicate a remarkable visual narrative combined with technical excellence.
Dinorah Graue Obscura (Mexico), chosen from the 10 Open category winners, is the 2023 Open Photographer of the Year. She received a $5,000 cash prize, Sony digital imaging equipment as well as global exposure.
Graue Obscura won for her arresting image titled Mighty Pair, entered in the Natural World & Wildlife category.
The black-and-white photograph depicts a pair of crested caracara birds in Southern Texas. Perched together upon a branch, they stare fixedly in the same direction, as if posing.
“It is an absolute honor to receive the Open Photographer of the Year 2023 Award. I am absolutely certain that this recognition will contribute to the dissemination of my work as a wildlife photographer, which aims to transmit and show people the beauty I see in nature.
“I believe that photography is a very powerful tool that can be used to raise awareness about the fragility of our natural world,” said Graue Obscura
Student Photographer of the Year
For this year’s Student competition, students were invited to submit a series of five to 10 images.
The images had to respond to theme “In a Changing World,” highlighting positive stories of development as well as progress.
Long Jing (China Mainland) of Yunnan Arts University, was awarded Student Photographer of the Year. He won $33,000 of Sony digital imaging equipment for his university. Jing’s winning series, Keep the Yunnan Opera, goes behind the scenes to show the dwindling groups of performers and spectators of the opera in Yunnan. Further, in vivid color, the series celebrates the multiculturalism of southwestern China reflected in the performances.
Youth Photographer of the Year
This year entrants to the Youth competition were asked to respond to the theme “Your Everyday” and share their unique view of the world around them.
Selected from a shortlist of seven photographers under the age of 19, Hai Wang (China Mainland, 17 years old) is the 2023 Youth Photographer of the Year. He garnered Sony digital imaging kit and global exposure.
Wang’s winning photograph depicts seemingly endless rows of deserted, brightly colored chairs at a school ceremony cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. The strong composition and striking framing highlight the sense of emptiness as well as give a surreal quality to the image.
“I appreciate all the attention and support the public gives to global teenage photographers,” said Wang. “As a member of this age group, I can say that we are trying to make a change throughout the world in a brand-new way, to try not to waste a single second of our lives.”
Alessandro Cinque (Italy) is the first-time winner of the Sustainability Prize. He received a $5,000 cash prize. In addition, his project is part of the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition in London.
This brand-new prize was developed in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and Sony Pictures’ Picture This initiative. It recognizes the stories, people and organizations whose actions highlight one of the United Nations’ environmental Sustainable Development Goals.
Cinque won for his series Atrapanieblas (Fog Nets). The series documents an innovative solution helping to tackle chronic water shortages in Lima, Peru. Cinque shows how fog nets are used to catch droplets of airborne moisture and can collect about 53 gallons of water per day for local residents.
Outstanding Contribution to Photography
The WPO awarded this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography to the celebrated photographer Rinko Kawauchi. One of the most important Japanese photographers today, Kawauchi has achieved international renown for her intimate and luminous images. Her work captures ephemeral moments of everyday life.
More than 20 images by the photographer are exhibiting at the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 exhibition. The selection, made by the artist, spans more than two decades of her career. Moreover, it highlights significant milestones and themes across some of her most iconic series: Illuminance (2011), AILA (2004), Utatane (2001), and Ametsuchi (2013).
Adam Ferguson | Solo Presentation
In addition to the work of this year’s overall and category winners, the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition features a solo presentation by the 2022 Photographer of the Year winner Adam Ferguson (Australia).
The photographer presents a selection of images from his series Silent Wind, Roaring Sky. This series documents the remote lives of communities in Australia’s Outback. The exhibition charts repeated journeys deep into rural Australia, revealing a landscape as well as a community in a state of dramatic transition.
For a complete list of all finalists and shortlisted photographers, click here.