Skip to main content

Photography at its best: Sony World Photography Awards finalists announced

Photography at its best: Sony World Photography Awards finalists announced
(Image credit: Reuben Wu, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

The World Photography Organization has announced the finalists and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2020. With over 345,000 images from 203 territories submitted to the four competitions, the SWP Awards are the perfect opportunity to peruse the very best photography the world has to offer. 

Now celebrating its 13th year, a new Environment category has been added to reflect the growing importance of this topic in both fine art photography and photojournalism. 

• Read more: Best camera

The finalist projects for SWP Awards 2020 engage with a wide variety of topics, photography techniques and presentation methods. They cover personal subjects and observations, inventive approaches to storytelling and shedding light on little known but critical issues.

There are ten categories in total, including Architecture, Creative, Discovery, Documentary, Environment, Landscape, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Sport and Still Life. 

Images from the 2020 competition will be available to view at Somerset House, London from 17 April to 4 May, 2020. Tickets will be available to buy on 5 March, ranging from £9 – £14.

"My fascination with other people’s lives led to a collaboration with the inmates of HMP Foston Hall prison (for women aged 18 and over) in Derbyshire, England. The aim of the project was to communicate to the outside world the effects of their incarceration, and how they try to make sense of their lives inside… Relationships are not officially sanctioned but are inevitable and grabbed moments of intimacy are all the more precious for being denied."

"My fascination with other people’s lives led to a collaboration with the inmates of HMP Foston Hall prison (for women aged 18 and over) in Derbyshire, England. The aim of the project was to communicate to the outside world the effects of their incarceration, and how they try to make sense of their lives inside… Relationships are not officially sanctioned but are inevitable and grabbed moments of intimacy are all the more precious for being denied." (Image credit: Richard Ansett, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"Coral reef [at] sunset, Egypt. [This series] is the result of several journeys that took me to destinations around the world, mostly for scuba diving magazines."

"Coral reef [at] sunset, Egypt. [This series] is the result of several journeys that took me to destinations around the world, mostly for scuba diving magazines." (Image credit: Tobias Friedrich, Germany, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"I’ve photographed a range of ages for this project, and the idea of recreating a messy teenager’s bedroom appealed to me. I prepared by posing a model in a jumper covered in gaffer tape. I added accessories around him, drawing matching lines on the taped jumper. I then photographed the annotated top and marked it up with color indications. This gave me a model to brief the knitter, allowing precise placement of lines to match the accessories."

"I’ve photographed a range of ages for this project, and the idea of recreating a messy teenager’s bedroom appealed to me. I prepared by posing a model in a jumper covered in gaffer tape. I added accessories around him, drawing matching lines on the taped jumper. I then photographed the annotated top and marked it up with color indications. This gave me a model to brief the knitter, allowing precise placement of lines to match the accessories." (Image credit: Joseph Ford, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"Bigorexia (also known as muscle dysmorphia) is a new phenomenon in the sports and fashion industries. This anxiety disorder causes individuals to believe that their bodies are small and lacking in muscle, despite the fact that many sufferers could be described as big and muscular. The condition can affect both men and women, but often goes undiagnosed. Sufferers choose different approaches to build up muscles, from compulsively working out in the gym to injecting themselves with mystery substances. Some of these methods are dangerous, and occasionally deadly."

"Bigorexia (also known as muscle dysmorphia) is a new phenomenon in the sports and fashion industries. This anxiety disorder causes individuals to believe that their bodies are small and lacking in muscle, despite the fact that many sufferers could be described as big and muscular. The condition can affect both men and women, but often goes undiagnosed. Sufferers choose different approaches to build up muscles, from compulsively working out in the gym to injecting themselves with mystery substances. Some of these methods are dangerous, and occasionally deadly." (Image credit: Anton Dotsenko, United States of America, Shortlist, Professional, Sport, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"Unsung Heroes is a project about violence against women around the world. In 2019, with support from international humanitarian association Médecins du Monde, I visited five continents and met more than 100 victims of violence. The women agreed to testify, their faces uncovered, in front of my camera. Some subjects had suffered violence linked to displacement following the war in Syria and in Colombia, others had survived domestic abuse, or the use of collective rape as a weapon in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Still more had faced moral violence, sexual exploitation, or discrimination against gender identity in Nepal, Cameroon and Uganda. The women I met are shadows that enter the light. The bruises and creases on the surface of their skin tell a story. Added to this are the voices, the words, the intimate experiences of violence that were shared. I wanted to show the suffering experienced by these women, but also their strength and resilience – in short, their ability to get up and fight again."

"Unsung Heroes is a project about violence against women around the world. In 2019, with support from international humanitarian association Médecins du Monde, I visited five continents and met more than 100 victims of violence. The women agreed to testify, their faces uncovered, in front of my camera. Some subjects had suffered violence linked to displacement following the war in Syria and in Colombia, others had survived domestic abuse, or the use of collective rape as a weapon in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Still more had faced moral violence, sexual exploitation, or discrimination against gender identity in Nepal, Cameroon and Uganda. The women I met are shadows that enter the light. The bruises and creases on the surface of their skin tell a story. Added to this are the voices, the words, the intimate experiences of violence that were shared. I wanted to show the suffering experienced by these women, but also their strength and resilience – in short, their ability to get up and fight again." (Image credit: Denis Rouvre, France, Finalist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"This photo was taken on July 17, 2019 in the mountains of Tottori, Japan. The purpose is to publish this photo on the web and in photo books, and to protect the environment where fireflies live. I attached a release with a timer function to the camera and shot with a 121-second exposure."

"This photo was taken on July 17, 2019 in the mountains of Tottori, Japan. The purpose is to publish this photo on the web and in photo books, and to protect the environment where fireflies live. I attached a release with a timer function to the camera and shot with a 121-second exposure." (Image credit: Masahiro Hiroike, Japan, Finalist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"Diamond Squid is all over the tropical and temperate oceans, and the adults are target of pelagic squid jigging vessels, yet no one has ever captured the images of a paralarvae close to Anilao, in the shallower water of Anilao Bay which is over 240m deep. After trying with all the different compositions and poses, it offered me this very symmetrical photo with all the tentacles extended, as if it’s trying to show off its beautiful tripes and chromatophores."

"Diamond Squid is all over the tropical and temperate oceans, and the adults are target of pelagic squid jigging vessels, yet no one has ever captured the images of a paralarvae close to Anilao, in the shallower water of Anilao Bay which is over 240m deep. After trying with all the different compositions and poses, it offered me this very symmetrical photo with all the tentacles extended, as if it’s trying to show off its beautiful tripes and chromatophores." (Image credit: Songda Cai, China, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"The first time you see the pink salt lakes of the Kherson region in Ukraine it feels as though you are looking at another planet. During the summer months, microscopic algae causes the water to turn pink and red. The view from above is literally out of this world, which is why I chose to use a drone to convey the atmosphere of this unusual place."

"The first time you see the pink salt lakes of the Kherson region in Ukraine it feels as though you are looking at another planet. During the summer months, microscopic algae causes the water to turn pink and red. The view from above is literally out of this world, which is why I chose to use a drone to convey the atmosphere of this unusual place." (Image credit: Yevhen Samuchenko, Ukraine, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

"A lone fire truck with a wall of flame and a fire tornado when the Green Wattle fire erupted out of the bush and hit properties in Sydney south west."

"A lone fire truck with a wall of flame and a fire tornado when the Green Wattle fire erupted out of the bush and hit properties in Sydney south west." (Image credit: Nicholas Moir, Australia, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

Read more

Best mirrorless camera in 2020: these are the best compact system cameras
Best camera under $500/£500 in 2020: cameras offering value AND performance
Best bridge camera in 2020: ultra-zoom cameras for far off subjects