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2020 Sony World Photography Awards Professional Finalists & Shortlists Revealed

The World Photography Organization has revealed the finalist and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2020, along with the exhibited projects from the 2019 Sony Grant recipients. Learn more about the photographers in the official release below and stay tuned for future announcements, with the final winners announcement occurring during the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 ceremony in London on April 16.

See the finalist and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2020.

The World Photography Organization is pleased to reveal the finalist and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2020. Also included are details of new photographic projects by Sony Professional Grant 2019 recipients. Works by both Professional competition finalists and Grant recipients will go on display as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 exhibition at Somerset House this April.

Now in its 13th year, the Awards’ Professional competition rewards a remarkable body of work for technical excellence and a fresh perspective on contemporary subjects. The winner of Photographer of the Year 2020 will be selected from the group of Professional finalists and announced during the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 ceremony in London on 16 April. 

Over 345,000 images from 203 territories were submitted across the 2020 Awards’ four competitions and over 135,000 were entered across the Professional competition’s 10 categories – the highest number of entries to date. A new Environment category has been introduced this year in recognition of the growing importance of this topic in both fine art photography and photojournalism.

This year’s finalist projects engage with a wide array of topics, photography techniques and presentation methods, covering personal subjects and observations, inventive approaches to storytelling and shedding light on little known but critical issues.

Sony World Photography Awards 2020 finalist photographers and their projects along with shortlisted photographers include:


Forms and textures are the focus of abstract photographs by José De Rocco (Argentina), featuring vibrant building exteriors in Formalism, as well as Jonathan Walland’s (UK) Structures; a minimalist black & white series depicting modern constructions. Sandra Herber’s (Canada) Ice Fishing, Lake Winnipeg presents whimsical images of the colourful ice fishing huts that dot the frozen surface of the lake in winter.


Copyright: © José De Rocco, Argentina, Finalist, Professional, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Swen Bernitz, Germany; Liang Chen, China Mainland; Jeoffrey Guillemard, France; Marcin Płonka, Poland; Maria Burasovskaya, Russian Federation; Laurin Schmid, Germany; Alexander Tatarenko, Russian Federation


In Seeds of Resistance, Pablo Albarenga (Uruguay) pairs pictures of landscapes and territories in danger from mining and agribusinesses with portraits of the activists fighting to conserve them. Using shots of social media posts, chats and Skype or WhatsApp calls, Kill Me With an Overdose of Kindness by Dione Roche (Italy) examines the way in which relationships and intimacy are lived and expressed online. Witness Objects by Luke Watson (UK) comprises images of pinhole cameras made using historical objects from the Bosnian War alongside photographs taken with these makeshift cameras of meaningful locations around Sarajevo.


Copyright: © Pablo  Albarenga, Uruguay, Finalist, Professional, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Michel Le Belhomme, France; Nicoletta Cerasomma, Italy; Joseph Ford, United Kingdom; Ritsuko Matsushita, Japan; Serge Varaxin, Russian Federation; Reuben Wu, UK


In Invisible Wounds, Hugh Kinsella Cunningham (UK) stains his images in red to communicate the suffering and distress caused by a viral Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo while in The Cave, Maria Kokunova (Russia) uses symbolism and allegory to examine personal trauma. Cast Out of Heaven by Hashem Shakeri (Iran) looks at the lives of those forced to leave Tehran due to the economic downturn and move into inadequate state-funded housing projects.


Copyright: © Hugh Kinsella Cunningham, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional, Discovery, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Diogo Baptista, Portugal; Emmanuelle Firman, France; Adrian Francis, USA Massimo Gurrieri, Italy; Thomas Hänisch, Germany; Edward Kaprov, Israel; Murat Yazar, Turkey


Didier Bizet’s (France) series Baby Boom examines the reborn phenomena, a lifelike baby doll collected by enthusiasts and used by adoptive parents in preparation and by elderly patients in need of companionship. Poignant portraits of Hongkongers injured during the protests are the focus of Chung Ming Ko’s (Hong Kong) project Wounds of Hong Kong, whereas Zhang Youqiong’s (China) From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Made in Africa’ documents workers in the Chinese funded venture, the Ethiopian Oriental Industrial Park, a key enterprise in China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ in Africa.


Copyright: © Didier Bizet, France, Finalist, Professional, Documentary, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: David Butow, USA; Nicholas Moir, Australia; Patrick Wack, France; Eddy van Wessel, Netherlands; Ian Willms, Canada


Wahala by Robin Hinsch (Germany) documents the devastating effects of continued oil spillage and natural gas flaring along the Niger delta river. In Atlas from the Edge, Álvaro Laiz (Spain) explores the concept of ‘natural symmetry’ as practiced by the indigenous group, the Chukchi, whose traditional lifestyle evolved according to their mode of subsistence. In The Future of Farming, Luca Locatelli (Italy), portrays high tech agrofarming systems from around the world, a possible solution to future food shortages.


Copyright: © Robin Hinsch, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Environment, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Jenny Evans, Australia; Marco Garofalo, Italy; Eddo Hartmann, Netherlands; Maximilian Mann, Germany; Pierpaolo Mittica, Italy; Carolina Rapezzi, Italy; Kristof Vrancken, Belgium


Torii by Ronny Behnert (Germany) features photographs of Buddhist and Shinto temples across Japan, while New Home by Chang Kyun Kim (Korea), comprises photographs of Japanese Internment Camps in which thousands of US citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned during the Second World War. Project 596 by Florian Ruiz (France) depicts the barren landscape of Lop Nor, a former salt lake in China previously used as a nuclear weapons test site.


Copyright: © Ronny Behnert, Germany, Finalist, Professional, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Mauro Battistelli, Italy; Jeroen van Dam, Netherlands; Andrius Grigalaitis, Lithuania; Sybren Vanoverberghe, Belgium; Peixia Xie, China Mainland

Natural World & Wildlife

Masahiro Hiroike (Japan) captures the enchanting lights emitted by fireflies in the forests of Tottori, Japan in Himebotaru and in Macro, Adalbert Mojrzisch (Germany) uses macro lens technique to provide a closeup view of the intricate colours and patterns of insect and amphibian eyes. Pangolins in Crisis by Brent Striton (South Africa) looks at the illegal trade and rescue efforts of pangolins, the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals.


Copyright: © Masahiro Hiroike, Japan, Finalist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Pierre Anquet, France; Songda Cai, China; Mainland Marko Dimitrijevic, Switzerland; Tobias Friedrich, Germany; Joan de la Malla, Spain; Yevhen Samuchenko, Ukraine


In Passengers, Cesar Dezfuli (Spain) juxtaposes striking portraits of migrants taken in 2016 as they first arrived on European shores with more recent images that better convey their personalities and the transformation they’ve experienced. Unsung Heroes by Denis Rouvre (France) presents the portraits and harrowing tales of women who have been victims of violence and in Ukrainian Railroad Ladies, Sasha Maslov (Ukraine) portrays the women who work as train station guards and explores their social role as a symbol of continuity in a country torn by war and political upheavals.


Copyright: © Cesar Dezfuli, Spain, Finalist, Professional, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Richard Ansett, United Kingdom; Raul Ariano, Italy; Jon Enoch, UK; Adam Ferguson, Australia; Adrián Markis, Argentina; Magdalena Stengel, Germany; Tomáš Vrana, Czech Republic


Wrestling has become the number one sport in Senegal and is also a means of social ascendance steeped in tradition and ritual, in Senegalese Wrestlers, Angel Lopez Soto (Spain) explores these practices through images of young wrestles in training, whereas Dives by Andrea Staccioli (Italy) presents poetic portraits of athletes in mid-dive at the Gwangju Diving World Championships. Lucas Barioulet’s (France), The Long and Difficult Path of the Mauritanian National Women's Football Team looks at the challenges and cultural tensions faced by the female players in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.


Copyright: © Ángel López Soto, Spain, Finalist, Professional, Sport, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Giuliano Berti, Italy; Anton Dotsenko, USA; Frédéric Duhayer, France; Mikhail Kapychka, Belarus; Sarah Sasani, Iran; Federico Tardito, Italy

Still Life

Disassembled Memory is a catalogue of photographs depicting the disassembled parts of Fangbin Chen’s (China) childhood bicycle in an attempt to recall and preserve his memories from that time, while in Plexus, Elena Helfrecht (Germany) delves into her family’s archive to examine the effects of inherited trauma and collective memory. In IMMORTALITY, INC. Alessandro Gandolfi (Italy) goes into research labs and institutions to document the processes and objects which represent modern science’s advancements in its pursuit to overcome death.


Copyright: © Fangbin Chen, China, Finalist, Professional, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Shortlist: Sabina Candusso, Italy; Emilia Cocking, United Kingdom; Sandrine Dippa, France; Paul Fuentes, Mexico; Molly Percy, United Kingdom; Yelena Strokin, Russian Federation; Cecilia Manzanares Vargas, Mexico

The work of finalist and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition was judged by: Claudi Carreras Guillén, Independent curator, editor, and cultural manager; Touria El Glaoui, Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair; Katie Hollander, Director, Annenberg Space for Photography; Gwen Lee, Director, Singapore International Photography Festival; Brent Lewis, Photo Editor, The New York Times / Co-Founder, Diversify Photo; and Chair and exhibition curator Mike Trow, picture editor and consultant.

Sony Professional Grant 2019

Chosen from the Professional category finalists of the Sony World Photography Awards 2019, the latest Sony Professional Grant recipients are Yan Wang Preston (UK, 1st place, Landscape), Edward Thompson (UK, 3rd place, Brief), Kohei Ueno (Japan, 2nd place, Sport) and Tuomas Uusheimo (Finland, 2nd place, Architecture). Each photographer was given $7,000 (USD) and the latest Sony digital imaging equipment in April 2019, along with the freedom to create entirely new works or to to develop a long-term project.

Exhibited projects include:

Wilderness Expanses by Yan Wang Preston continues the artist’s long-term investigation towards the complexities of nature in modern societies. Taken in different ecology-recovery areas in China, Preston uses a black & white aesthetic in the tradition of classic landscape photography to explore questions surrounding the recreation and recovery of our wildernesses. Edward Thompson uses the Brexit process as the backdrop to his project, documenting related national and local events.

The beauty of life, forgiveness, and the power of positive change by Kohei Ueno looks at the annual migration and slow recovery of the 'Tongan Tribe', a pod of whales, which was almost hunted to extinction during the devastating large-scale commercial whaling that occurred during the post-war era. Out of bounds by Tuomas Uusheimo examines the architecture, spatiality and boundaries of sports fields.

See all Professional competition finalists & shortlisted images, along with 2019 Sony Grant recipient projects at worldphoto.org.


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