Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi recognized in Sony World Photo Awards

Rinko Kawauchi
Untitled (Image credit: Rinko Kawauchi)

Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi has been awarded the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize. The Tokyo-based photographer is internationally renowned for her ephemeral depictions of everyday life and her intimate reflections on natural occurrences. 

Kawauchi first picked up a camera at the age of 19 but she didn’t get a job in photography until she started at an advertising agency in the 1990s. By 2001, Kawauchi had started to gain some recognition for her work; she moved to Tokyo and published her first three photo books, Utatane (2001)

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In the years since she first started out in photography, Kawauchi has continued to explore Japan’s ethnic religion known as Shinto through her work with many of her photos conveying themes of impermanence. Most of her work is shot on a 6X6 format using a Rolleiflex film camera which adds to the serene quality of her work and despite often capturing the simple world around her, Kawauchi’s images have an ethereal, dream-like feel to them that is especially apparent in her series Illuminance (2011)

Rinko Kawauchi

Untitled (Image credit: Rinko Kawauchi)

Work from several of her pivotal projects will be on display at the Sony World Photography Awards 2023 in Somerset House including the ones already mentioned plus AILA, and Ametsuchi.

On being granted this prestigious award, Kawauchi said, “This award is a recognition of my work, and will encourage me in my future activities. The exhibition brings a body of work that not only characterizes my practice, but also presents an ambitious series created with a different method and approach. Through my photography, I seek to create works of art that act as a signpost for me to examine more closely the experiences I am living and what I am looking at.”

The award recognizes a photographer or group of people who have made a significant impact in the photography community through powerful, thought-provoking pieces that challenge people’s views. Previous winners of the award include Martin Parr (2017) Vadav Kander (2019) and last year's winner, Edward Burtynsky. 

Sony World Photography Award 2023

Untitled (Image credit: Rinko Kawauchi)

Over the next few months, the winners of each of the 10 categories will be announced as well as the overall winners for the student, open and professional categories on April 13 2023. The Sony World Photography Awards is one of the most entered photography competitions in the world - and for good reason. The grand prize for the overall winner is a life-changing $25,000 while the winner of the open category will receive an attractive $5,000. 

There is still time to enter the Sony World Photography Award 2023; the deadline for the professional competition is January 13, for the open and youth competition it’s January 6 and for the student competition it’s November 30. It's free to enter and photographers may enter up to 10 images in each category. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.