2019 Sony World Photography Awards Open & Youth Competition – The Shortlist in Pictures

5 February 2019

The 2019 Sony World Photography Awards has announced the shortlists for its Open and Youth competitions

This year, the awards received a record breaking number of entries, with 326,000 submissions from 195 countries and territories.  The ten open category winners will be revealed on 26 February, with overall Open and Youth winners announced on 17 April 2019.

From underwater photographs to magical landscapes, the Open Shortlist is made up of works across ten diverse categories, including a new Creative category.

All Open shortlisted photographers will now go on to compete to become category winners, with the chance to be selected as Open Photographer of the Year, winning $5,000 USD.

With shortlisted photographers from across the world, from China to Zimbabwe, Bangladesh to Moldova, the Youth Shortlist features the top eight single images taken by 12 – 19-year-olds responding to the theme ‘Diversity’.  One young photographer will be announced as Youth Photographer of the Year in April.

The judging for this year’s Open and Youth competitions was chaired by ​Rebecca McClelland​,​ ​photography director & head of art production for advertising and creative agencies Saatchi Saatchi & Prodigious​ (UK).

McClelland said:​ ‘I was astonished with the diversity of work that was entered into the Open and Youth competitions. The award represents a very democratic appreciation of photography, from tradition to emergent trends across all genres from nature to fashion. The competition allows the broadest demographic to have a platform.

‘Judging single images is never easy, it is important to give equal appreciation regardless of genre to allow the fairest outcome. The judging is hosted blind to prevent nepotism or bias, which is extremely important. I look forward to seeing these striking contemporary images on display at this year’s exhibition at Somerset House.’

The shortlist for the Professional competition will be announced on 26 March 2019.

All shortlisted and winning images will be exhibited as part of the ​2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London. This exhibition will include a dedicated section featuring specially selected works by the 2019 recipient of the ​Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize. The exhibition will run from 18 April until 6 May 2019 at Somerset House in London.

Open Competition – A Selection of Shortlisted Images

Natural Phenomena and Man Creation, Carole Pariat, France, Shortlist, Open, Architecture (Open competition)
‘This stony forest, situated in the South of China, is composed of many stone peaks which were sculptured gradually by the process of erosion due to rain and wind. On the background, the mountain, shaped also during millions of years. And between the 2, these skyscrapers erected in no time at all in China contrast with this magic landscape without age. Nevertheless, in the similarity of their form, the stony constructions rising of the ground, seem to begin a silent dialogue, with the maze of high buildings drawn by the hand of the men.’

End of Nowruz Celebration in Iran (Kurdistan), Alimohammad Karami, Iran, Shortlist, Open, Culture (Open competition)
‘Nowruz is the traditional Iranian festival of spring which starts at the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring. It is considered as the start of the New Year among Iranians. The name comes from Avestan meaning “new day/daylight”. Nowruz is celebrated March 20/21 each year, at the time the sun enters Aries and Spring begins. It has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years.’

Synergy of Humanity, Eng Chung Tong, Malaysia, Shortlist, Open, Culture (Open competition)
‘A humanity view of one of the minorities tribes in Yunnan going about their daily working life. Team work, coordination and cooperation are essential for efficiency otherwise it will be chaos . An impression of once upon a time in Yunnan.’

Mount Bromo East Java Indonesia, Roslan Nasir, Malaysia, Shortlist, Open, Landscape
Sunrise at Mount Bromo East Java Indonesia. Cool weather at 8°c around 4.00 am.Canon 70D body Sigma 17-50mm OS hsm lens shoot at f2.8 1/60s iso 250 50mm

Risky Journey, Md. Akhlas Uddin, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography
‘The overcrowded train and station at the early morning in Tongi railway station. Bangladeshi Muslim devotees attending the Akheri Munajat by train, On the third day of Biswa Ijtema, Bishwa ijtema is the second largest Muslim congregation after the Hajj, in Bangladesh, 14 January 2018, around one million Muslims from Bangladesh and abroad observed the three-day congregation with prayers on the banks of the Turag River, Tongi, Gazipur, Bangladesh.’

Wires and Pigeons, Alessandro Zunino, Italy, Shortlist, Open, Creative
‘Lights and shadows, wires and pigeons, draw a dense pattern in a river channel in Funchal, Madeira (Portugal).’

Untitled, Greg Lecoeur, France, Shortlist, Open, Natural World & Wildlife
‘For many years grey seal have been hunted by humans for their fur and fat, particularly in the 19th century, they have disappeared from many areas of their normal range. It is currently protected by national and international regulations, but continues to suffer from unintentional catches, poaching (gunfire) and pollution (due to its position at the top of the food chain, its organism is particularly loaded with marine pollutants).
In the Farne Island archipelago, they are now protected and cohabit with humans, becoming even one of the strong tourist interests of this region.’

Shadow Puppetry, Pan Jianhua, China, Shortlist, Open, Culture
‘Shadow Puppetry is an ancient folk art with a history of more than 2000 years in China. The village shadow Puppets performers perform for the local villagers in the courtyard of a stone house.’

Bruno’s Portrait, Elena Merce, Spain, Shortlist, Open, Portraiture
‘I took this portrait of Bruno when he was in the shower in the afternoon, last February, when we were living in La Provence in France. There was a bit of winter light entering by the window and I loved the water drops on his skin.’

SWAT Force 2, Qin Fan, China, Shortlist, Open, Motion
‘The special police brigade of Jishou Public Security Bureau of Hunan Province conducts extreme physical training to exercise the strength and perseverance of its members.’

Open-air toilet: when will it end?, Carole Pariat, France, Shortlist, Open, Street Photography
‘Why go to public toilets when one can urinate outside freely? That is surely what this well-dressed young Indian thought. While two Indian musicians were posing, he began to pee on the wall just behind them. There is a very common and deep-seated habit of  urinating and defecating outdoors in India. The current Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, campaigned with the slogan “toilets before temples”. He allocated more than $40 billion for a latrine building and behavior change operation called Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission). It is a challenge to improve public health drastically knowing that, in the world, diseases caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kill about 1.4 million children a year!’

Familial Ryokan in Beppu, Nicolas Boyer, France, Shortlist, Open, Travel
‘A familial ryokan in Beppu with the mother drinking her tea while her daughter is reading a manga. Ryokans [旅館] are traditional Japanese inns often run in a family home with bedding (futon) spread out on the tatami floor & common bathing areas (ofuro – 風炉). Beppu, Japan – May 2018.’

Women of Arugam Bay, Maxwell Gifted, France, Shortlist, Open, Travel
‘On 4th of October 2018 in the eastern province of Sri Lanka, I had the opportunity to work on a project with the Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club which is the very first surf society for local women in the history of a country ruled by a patriarchy system since bygone days.In that part of the island mostly, you will barely see a local woman driving a tuk tuk or taking a surfboard to go to the beach. In this shot I wanted to change the rules, I wanted to expose how these women are strong, powerful and fearless. We set the scene intentionally in Pottuvil, the Muslim area of the region as they stood there, so proud and humble,with heavy pasts behind each of them and a whole new opened door to become the Pillars for the future generations of strongminded little girls who will be looking up to them.’

Prunus Domestica ‘President’ European Plum, Masumi Shiohara, Japan, Shortlist, Open, Still Life
‘This is the European plum ‘President’ that I grow. ‘President’ is a variety discovered in the state of Hertfordshire in England in the early 20th century. In Nagano Prefecture where my farm is located, it is a late-seed variety that ripens in late September. This work is aimed at showing the identity of the variety in detail. I photographed flowers with branches in spring and fruits with branches in autumn. Furthermore I shot three aspects of flowers and fruits, their cross section, and a seed. Three sides of flower and fruit, a seed and fruits with branches have focus stacking.’

Youth Competition – A Selection of Shortlisted Images

Young Shepherd, Ilya Bugaev, Moldova (Republic of), Shortlist, Youth, Diversity
‘For many years, work was in full swing in the gorge near Trinka village, Moldova. For centuries, lime was mined here, burned, and sent to all the surrounding area. Today, the walls of this natural quarry are overgrown with grass and trees, the old kilns have been destroyed, and this village is famous for its meadows rather than its fossil resources. However, there is enough work here now. Herds of sheep grazing require a shepherd. It was important for me to capture the calm and tranquility in the eyes of this young shepherd, cut off from work, knocked out of his routine by a visit from an unexpected guest. This is exactly what is rarely seen in the bustle of the city, in the eyes of those who work far from nature and whose leisure is not enriched by unity with beautiful natural landscapes.’

Abuot, Zelle Westfall, United States of America, Shortlist, Youth, Diversity
‘I had this image in my mind before I took it. This was the very first shot, just to test the lighting. Right away, I knew this was exactly what I was going for. The rest of the shoot was spent collaborating with Jordan. Abuot is my friend from school and she is one of the funniest people I know. In today’s society, with skin bleaching products and colorism flooding the media, it’s important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are “too dark.”‘

Fallen Out of the World, Johannes Weigl, Austria, Shortlist, Youth, Diversity
‘I wanted to express the loneliness of modern people, despite the huge improvements in our communication abilities. Because a lot of people have simply stopped communicating face to face. The girl in the picture is one of the outsiders, one of those who still communicate in the real world, but in a world of lowered-head people who are permanently staring at their phones, her only way out seemed to be to run away, to jump, fall… and die. I took this image on December 8 in my hometown, which is called Finklham. I was doing a normal photoshoot and suddenly got the idea.’

Sex, Xinyu Fu, China, Shortlist, Youth, Diversity
‘I took this photo with natural light. It is a metaphor for transgender individuals who feel concern regarding their identity.’

See all the images on the World Photography Organisation website.

Featured image: Vasile, Alex Robciuc, Romania, Shortlist, Open, Culture