UK-based photographer Craig Easton is the overall winner of the Sony World Photography Awards 2021, for his series ‘Bank Top’.
Examining the representation and misrepresentation of communities in northern England, the project was a collaboration with writer and academic Abdul Aziz Hafiz.
One year in the making, ‘Bank Top’ seeks to challenge the narrative that the town of Blackburn in Lancashire is “the most segregated in Britain,” a label bestowed on it in media reports.
Easton and Hafiz worked closely with local inhabitants, exploring their stories and experiences through a series of black and white portraits and accompanying texts.
Their work highlights issues around social deprivation, housing, unemployment, immigration and representation, and counters simplistic generalisations – aiming to provide context as to how these communities came together and a better understanding of how they thrive together now.
Easton receives the title of Sony World Photography Awards 2021 Photographer of the Year, a cash prize of $25,000 and a range of Sony digital imaging equipment.
Ten category winners receive a range of Sony digital imaging equipment and publication in the Sony World Photography Awards book; second- and third-place winners have their work published in the book.
“What is so impressive about this project is the intent, dedication and understanding Craig brings to it,” said Chair of the 2021 Professional competition, Mike Trow.
“He has worked closely with the writer Abdul Aziz Hafiz to create a complete piece, tacitly acknowledging that for a project as sensitive as this, words matter.
“These are not people who necessarily asked to be photographed but Craig gained their trust. They look frankly to camera and we see a mutual understanding between documenter and subject.
“It is the moral weight behind this work that makes it so important and deserving of this prize.”
Commenting on his win, Craig Easton said: “I am delighted to have this work recognised by the Sony World Photography Awards.
“I photograph to learn, to try to understand and to document and share stories. It is a privilege to be able to do so and to challenge perceptions and stereotypes – something that is especially important to me.
“To have these stories from underrepresented or misrepresented communities in northern England where I live recognised and shared worldwide is wonderful. Thank you.”
Read on to see the 10 professional category winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2021…
And don’t miss the virtual exhibition of the winners’ and finalists’ work – while you’re there, you can also watch the ‘A Year in Photos from the Sony World Photography Awards 2021’ documentary, and download a free digital copy of the Sony World Photography Awards 2021 book.
Niall is the editor of Digital Camera magazine and has been shooting on interchangeable lens cameras for two decades, 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, and these days his favored shooting subjects include wildlife, travel and street photography, plus dabbling with studio still life.