Sony World Photography Awards
The Sony World Photography Awards are back in a physical space to showcase the winners of the 2022 edition. Featuring professional, open and student photography, this is a visceral parade of nature, still life, travel, street photography, architecture, climate change and the position humanity finds itself in. From intimate photographs of the 2021 storming of the Capitol to industrialization and the growing climate change crisis, this exhibition displays the best of humanity’s capability to capture the moment and tell a story with a camera.
It’s displayed across two wings of Somerset House, with natural lighting bouncing off the photographs. The venue is a bit of a labyrinth, with closed doors and rooms backing onto other rooms – it’s easy to get lost and end up somewhere you didn’t expect. The space sometimes looks like the gallery of a private residence, with fireplaces situated underneath the work as if it was a personal collection. Some pieces are framed, whilst others, like Nemo’s Garden and Roman Vondrous’s depiction of football fans in the Czech Republic, are displayed more informally, like how you might hang pictures up in your bedroom.
Exodus, by first-place Open/Landscape winner Vincente Ansola, is a striking anthropomorphic photograph of sunflowers in Castilla León. These wilting, black and white sunflowers look like they are draped in ancient clothes, flower heads unnervingly human. They appear to be almost moving across the dark landscape, like creatures from a distant time. The photographer imagined them as women working the parched fields in ancient Spain, and he has captured this vision almost hauntingly well.
Anger Management, by Open Photographer of the Year winner Scott Wilson, is an otherworldly capture of a wild mustang kicking up a sandstorm in Colorado. The horse looks almost mechanical and supernatural, ragged yet strong, and induces a feeling of empowerment in the viewer. Old Meets New, by Architecture first-place winner Anthony Chan from Hong Kong, is a compelling portrait of a flimsy industrial estate, whilst Khanh Le Viet, Vietnam, and Junming Chen, China Mainland, create artistic, futuristic depictions of artistic architecture for the shortlist.
Tree, by Gareth Iwan Jones, third place winner of the Landscape category, uses light remarkably well to highlight trees in their different seasons, with magical night skies serving as the backdrop. Photographer of the Year Adam Ferguson wows the portraiture category with his empathetic self-portraits of migrants in Mexico as they wait to cross the border into the USA. Most striking is the portrait of Amy Rose Henríquez, a 26-year-old trans woman who gazes at the sky with quiet, mesmerising power and self-confidence which radiates through the camera.
There are many pleasing and evocative photographs in this year’s collection, many of which will speak to different people and hold a special, personal meaning for them. This exhibition gives us a powerful insight into how creative, touching and magnificent photography can be, and will hopefully inspire more people to think about new ways of seeing the world around them.
Sony World Photography Awards is at Somerset House from 13th April until 2nd May 2022. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.