10 things to see at the Sony World Photo Awards 2022 exhibition

SWPA 2022 10 things to see listing image
(Image credit: © 2022 Sony World Photography Awards/Milan Radisics, Jan Grarup, Dennis Mubanga Kabwe, Domagoj Burilović)

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition is open now until 2 May, having returned to Somerset House in London for the first time since the Covid-19 lockdowns. 

Winning entries from all four competitions (Professional, Open, Student and Youth) are on display – over 340,000 images from 211 territories were submitted. 

Ahead of the exhibition opening its doors, we attended a preview hosted by Mike Trow, chair of the Professional jury. 

Mike was joined by Edward Burtynsky – the Canadian photographer was in London to receive his Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award.

So here are our must-see highlights of the SWPA 2022 exhibition – read on for our round-up, then catch a quick-fire Q&A with Mike Trow, interviewed before the exhibition opened… 

Visitors to the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 are recommended to book their tickets online in advance, via the Somerset House website, or in person at Seamen’s Hall, located on the ground floor of the South Wing at Somerset House.

10 highlights at the Sony World Photo Awards 2022

Over 250 prints are on display at the exhibition – start your viewing journey at the West Wing entrance. 

After you have worked through all the rooms, the exhibition continues across the courtyard in the East Wing, where you’ll find the Student gallery. 

‘Dorf’ by Domagoj Burilović, a study of German houses in Croatia, took first place in the Architecture category (Image credit: © Domagoj Burilović/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

From the series ‘New Waves’ by Raphaël Neal (second place in Creative) (Image credit: © Raphaël Neal/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

There were some diverse ideas in the Sport category, including ‘Loyal Fans’ by Roman Vondrouš (third place) (Image credit: © Roman Vondrouš/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

SWPA 2022 image 5 Milan Radisics

‘The Fox’s Tale’ by Milan Radisics took first place in the Wildlife & Nature category (Image credit: © Milan Radisics/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

With no rules for Still Life, it was a varied selection – ‘Concordia’ by Alessandro Gandolfi came third (Image credit: © Alessandro Gandolfi/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

‘Tree‘, a series of trees shot at night and beautifully lit, won third place for Gareth Iwan Jones in the Landscape category  (Image credit: © Gareth Iwan Jones/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

The Portraiture category was very strong, said the judges. George Tatakis took second place for ‘Caryatis 2021’ (Image credit: © George Tatakis/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

SWPA 2022 image 9 Jan Grarup

‘The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela’ by Jan Grarup was first place in Documentary, another very strong field (Image credit: © Jan Grarup/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

SWPA 2022 image 10 Giacomo d'Orlando

‘Nemo's Garden’ landed Giacomo d'Orlando third place in Environment (Image credit: © Giacomo d'Orlando/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

SWPA 2022 image 11 Dennis Mubanga Kabwe

Dennis Mubanga Kabwe from Zambia was a finalist in the Student competition, for his series of portraits of Mr Banda, a butcher in Lusaka, Zambia (Image credit: © Dennis Mubanga Kabwe/2022 Sony World Photography Awards)

And don’t miss these… 

But there’s more – two other must-sees at the SWPA 2022 exhibition are ‘Bank Top’ by Craig Easton, who won the Professional competition in 2021, and the photographs by Edward Burtynsky. 

Captured on a large-format film camera and never previously displayed, the ‘Bank Top’ series will be going on tour after the SWPA 2022 exhibition closes. It’s a very strong body of work. 

As is the selection of over a dozen large-scale, and extremely thought-provoking, Edward Burtynsky prints, which close the exhibition. 

Chosen by the photographer, the selection highlights key bodies of work and themes over Burtynsky’s 40-year career.

SWPA 2021 Pro winners image 10

One of the images in the series ‘Bank Top’ by Craig Easton, the Professional competition winner in 2021 (Image credit: © Craig Easton/2021 Sony World Photography Awards)

© Edward Burtynsky, Salt Pans #18, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016

‘Salt Pans #18, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India, 2016’ by Edward Burtynsky – the recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award (Image credit: Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto)

Four quick questions with Mike Trow

How would you describe the standard of the entries in this year's competition?

Every year since I’ve been lucky enough to head the professional jury I am delighted by the overall standard of entries and really do feel that the competition drives forward the quality of entries. I was worried that maybe 2022 would feel somehow flatter or less consistent but the reality is that that has not happened. 

The highly experienced jury, pulled together from around the world, was impressed with the quality of the work. The photographers who are shortlisted really are talented practitioners and the global nature of the competition highlights how photography still has so much to offer.

The 2022 competition was open as the fightback against Covid-19 continued. Did the entries suggest that creativity had thrived under the pressure of the pandemic, with photographers having to adapt to new day-to-day norms?

Bearing in mind the difficulties of Covid and the variety of restrictions imposed upon people – as well as the mental stresses caused by the pandemic – the resilience and imagination of photographers shone through. 

Photographers are self-starters and adept at planning and producing their own shoots, so covid was just another of the myriad of issues a photographer has to deal with on a daily basis. 

Of course, travel was limited, but sometimes the best work can come from where you live. The panoply of effects that Covid has had upon daily life and society meant that important and varied work sprang from the pandemic and will continue to do so. 

But in no way was it a defining element of this year’s competition – because climate change, personal identity, migration, nature and relationships all still have to be shown and stories made from these elements.

Did the entries in any particular category or categories really stand out for you? 

Documentary, Environment, Architecture and Portraiture were strong and gave the most discussion amongst the jury. Still Life also had work that impressed. 

As the most wide-ranging of the competitions there will always be variance in which type of work gets the most coverage but overall the work in each section has huge merit and it would be wrong to highlight just one. 

Is it becoming more challenging to judge these awards, given the quality and the record-breaking number of entries to the 2022 competition?

I don’t think so. It is a privilege and responsibility to be able to do this every year and I do try to come at it every year with fresh eyes and a sense of clarity. 

When doing the judging we don’t see the names of the artists, although at times someone may recognise the style of a particular artist, so it’s interesting to see who we choose as section winners. 

Some years it has been relatively unknown practitioners and others genuinely established and respected names. It speaks volumes that so many photographers from across the board enter and want to win. 

Good work rises to the top but all photography competitions have an element of chance. How juries interpret work based on their own photographic experience will always make judging a challenging process. 

Buy your tickets for SWPA 2022 today!

Sony World Photography Awards

Ezra Bohm from the Netherlands won Student Photographer of the Year 2022 for his interpretation of the brief ‘Connections’ (Image credit: Ezra Bohm - Sony World Photography Awards 2021)

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition is taking place at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA. 

Opening times are 11.00-21.00 Monday- Friday, and 11.00-20.00 Saturday & Sunday. 

Visitors are recommended to book their tickets online in advance. Tickets can be purchased on the Somerset House website or in Seamen’s Hall, located on the ground floor of the South Wing at Somerset House. 

Ticket prices: £15 (standard) and £11 (concession). For groups of 10 people or more, special Group tickets are available, for £13.50 each. 

Children under 12 years old and disabled companions can enter for free. 

See the exhibition, buy the book… 

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 hardback book features vibrant photographs from the 2022 Professional, Open, Student and Youth competitions, and includes an essay dedicated to Edward Burtynsky. 

You can get a 20% discount on the book by pre-ordering your exclusive copy when you purchase a ticket to the exhibition – the discount price is £27.99 (RRP £34.99). This discount price is only valid when purchasing a ticket to 2022 exhibition at Somerset House. 

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Niall Hampton

Niall is the editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for over 20 years, and on various point-and-shoot models for years before that. 

Working alongside professional photographers for many years as a jobbing journalist gave Niall the curiosity to also start working on the other side of the lens. These days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, and he also enjoys dabbling with studio still life. 

On the site you will see him writing photographer profiles, asking questions for Q&As and interviews, reporting on the latest and most noteworthy photography competitions, and sharing his knowledge on website building.