San Diego, CA—The World Photography Organization revealed the finalist and short–listed photographers in the 2021 Sony World Photography Professional Competition. Now in its 14th year, the Sony World Photography Awards’ Professional competition rewards a body of work for technical excellence and a fresh perspective on contemporary subjects.
Judges will select the winner of Photographer of the Year 2021 from the group of Professional finalists and reveal that person on April 15, 2021. Moreover, to mark the occasion, a specially commissioned program will feature the winners. Art historian Jacky Klein and entertainer Nish Kumar will host the event. The event will also stream via the World Photography Organization digital platforms on the April 15.
More than 330,000 images from 220 territories were submitted across the 2021 awards’ four competitions. In addition, 145,000+ submissions were entered into the Professional competition’s 10 categories—the highest number of entries to date.
WPO introduced a Portfolio category this year, presenting photographers with the opportunity to submit individual images from various bodies of work. However, it was required that their style and technical skills remain consistent throughout.
2021 Sony World Photography Professional Competition
The work of finalist and short–listed photographers in the Professional competition was judged by Natasha Egan, executive director, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Sunyoung Kim, curator, Museum of Photography Seoul, South Korea; Azu Nwagbogu, founder/director, African Artists’ Foundation and LagosPhoto Festival; Lindsay Taylor, curator, University of Salford Art Collection; Hannah Watson, director, Trolley Books; and Mike Trow, independent curator and photo editor, chair of the jury.
The Sony World Photography Awards 2021 finalist photographers as well as projects follow by category.
Architecture & Design
In Hymn of the Building Site, Gu Guanghui (China) presents images of construction sites across Ninghai County, Zhejiang Province. Taken from above, the sites and workmen are reduced to abstract shapes.
Also working with an abstract point of view was Frank Machalowski (Germany); his series Meisterhäuser Bauhaus-Dessau comprises layered images of Walter Gropius’s Masters’ Houses in Dessaue using multiple exposures.
Additionally, for his project, Eternal Hunting Ground, Tomáš Vocelka (Czech Republic) photographed a former military complex turned pet crematorium by minimalist architect Petr Hajek.
Using family heirlooms to create staged visual metaphors, Sasha Bauer (Russian Federation) explores her family history through the prism of her grandfather’s tumultuous life; from growing up in an orphanage to his years of service in the Russian army.
Also, Ampelio and I by Luigi Bussolati (Italy) features photographs found in an old family album. They are projected onto the landscapes of Parma and along the river Po. The project was conceived in memory of Bussolati’s uncle, a passionate photographer himself who in 1942 tragically took his own life.
In addition, in Mark Hamilton Gruchy’s (United Kingdom), The Moon Revisited, previously unprocessed pictures of the Apollo missions from NASA and the JPL were combined with copyright free images that reference key periods in history, from past wars to the pop art movement to the current pandemic. The resulting composites contrast the unchanging surface of the moon with the always dynamic pace of events on Earth.
In Thatcher’s Children, Craig Easton (United Kingdom) investigates the chronic nature of poverty and the effects of successive governments’ social policies as experienced by three generations of one family in the north of England.
The Killing Daisy by Vito Fusco (Italy) focuses on the pyrethrum, also known as the ‘flower of death.’ This delicate but deadly-to-insects daisy stands at the center of a thriving organic insecticide industry in Kenya.
Lorenzo Tugnoli’s (Italy) powerful Beirut Port Explosion documents the devastation in the aftermath of the explosion that shook Beirut in August 2020; 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated in the city’s port, killing hundreds as well as injuring and displacing thousands.
Mohammad Hossein Madadi’s (Islamic Republic of Iran) A City Under Dust Clouds features the cityscapes of Ahvaz. Madadi photographed one of the world’s most air polluted cities covered under a sepia cloud of dust and contamination.
In The Sea Moves Us, the Sea Moves Fuvemeh, Antonio Pérez (Spain) presents the inhabitants of Fuvemeh. Pérez features the small fishing village in Ghana in a series of portraits juxtaposed with photographs of their abandoned homes. The homes now lay in ruins due to rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Net-Zero Transition by Simone Tramonte (Italy) explores Iceland. That country now produces 100% of its electricity from renewable sources. Tramonte portrays it as a successful case study for other nations looking toward a more sustainable future.
In Silent Neighborhoods, Majid Hojati (Islamic Republic of Iran) presents a series of landscapes centered around deserted structures. In their quiet stillness, they poetically evoke the stories of those who once inhabited them.
Zaïm by Andrea Ludovico Ferro (Italy) explores notions of iconography and devotion as expressed in the political propaganda posters that dominate the urban landscapes of Tripoli, Lebanon.
Volcano by Fyodor Savintsev (Russian Federation) depicts the vibrant colors, natural diversity and otherworldly qualities of the volcanic belt in the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia.
Taken in and around his hometown of Ourense in the region of Galicia, photojournalist Brais Couto (Spain) presents a series of poignant and dramatic scenes. They explore local events and issues ranging from the effects of the pandemic to forest fires and carnival season.
In Citizens of Tomorrow, creative director as well as photographer Loli Laboureau (Argentina) contrasts statured and lively street scenes of the world as ‘we used to know it.’ He uses colorful as well as dramatically staged portraits depicting the ‘new normal.’
Moreover, in images taken from various personal projects, social documentary and portrait photographer Laura Pannack (United Kingdom) uses symbolism and a muted color palette to evoke vulnerability in and intimacy with her subjects.
For his second short–listed project, Craig Easton (United Kingdom) presents Bank Top; it is a collaboration with writer and academic Abdul Aziz Hafiz. Furthermore, the project examines the representation and misrepresentation of communities in northern England. It specifically looks at the residents of one tight-knit neighborhood in Blackburn.
In addition, in Looking Out from Within, 2020, Julia Fullerton-Batten (United Kingdom) took to the streets of her local area of West London. She documented her neighbors in their state of lockdown; moreover, she meticulously staged them at the windows of their homes while forlornly staring out.
What’s more, inspired by John Houston’s film The Misfits (1961), Drag Queen Cowboys by Jane Hilton (United Kingdom) comprises black & white portraits of Las Vegas drag queen performers. Hilton photographed them in Western outfits against Nevada’s desert backdrop.
In Sport and Fun Instead of War and Fear, Anas Alkharboutli (Syrian Arab Republic) movingly documents Wasim Satot’s karate school for children. The school is in the village of Aljiina, near Aleppo. Boys and girls, aged 6–15 years old, with and without disabilities, come together to form a community and overcome the traumas of war.
Iron Fit Kenya by Patrick Meinhardt (Spain) depicts athletes from across East Africa. They are taking part in the second Iron Fit Bodybuilding competition in Nairobi.
Rooftops by Farzam Saleh (Islamic Republic of Iran) also captures Iranian athletes. Saleh photographed the athletes taking to the rooftops of their city to maintain a regime of health and fitness during the pandemic.
In Still Life Composition, Shot on Wet Plate, Peter Eleveld (Netherlands) showcases a series of black & white images. Glass vases, fruit and flowers are expertly photographed and developed using a large-format camera and the wet plate collodion process.
In addition, conceived during the first national lockdown in Milan, Alessandro Pollio’s (Italy) Volatile Interests is a visual investigation of the photographer’s domestic environment. Simple and often humorous compositions of food and everyday objects represent memories of days spent in isolation.
Mexican Feast is a celebration of Mexican food and handcraft traditions. What’s more, in a vibrant, brightly lit mix of colors and textures, Paloma Rincon’s (Spain) studio constructions pay homage to her cultural influences.
Wildlife & Nature
Sea Drops by Angel Fitor (Spain) is a photographic essay exploring life inside drops of sea water. Using micropipettes, and a self-designed micro studio setup, Fitor opens a drop–shaped window to the splendidly diverse world of different species of planktons.
Also through close-up portraits, aerial images and underwater shots, Raw Nature by Graeme Purdy (United Kingdom) captures the fierce and majestic beauty of wild animals.
Finally, Locust Invasion in East Africa by Luis Tato (Spain) documents a destructive infestation of desert locust across East Africa. It wiped out entire fields of vegetation and crops. This recent outbreak was the most severe the region has known in decades. In addition, Covid-19 restrictions disrupted the supply chains of pesticides, making the situation worse.
For a complete list of the short–list photographers in the professional categories, visit www.worldlphoto.org
The WPO also announced it will unveil the overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competitions. It will reveal these Sony World Photography Awards on April 15. It will do so via the World Photography Organization’s digital and video platforms.
Banner Image Credits (L-R from Top Row):
Luis Tato, Spain, Finalist, Professional competition, Wildlife and Nature, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Craig Easton, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Anas Alkharboutli, Syrian Arab Republic, Finalist, Professional competition, Sport, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Jane Hilton, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Brais Lorenzo Couto, Spain, Finalist, Professional competition, Portfolio, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Marylise Vigneau, France, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Alessandro Gandolfi, Italy, Shortlist, Professional competition, Portfolio, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Alessandro Gandolfi, Italy, Shortlist, Professional competition, Environment, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Andrea Alkalay, Argentina, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2021
Frank Machalowski, Germany, Finalist, Professional competition, Architecture and Design, Sony World Photography Awards 2021