Incredible Youth and Student Finalists From the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards

Self-portrait of a female photographer laying on the ground

“Self-Portrait” © Joyce Xu, Australia, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“In June 2023, I took this self-portrait in a photo studio. I was in an introspective mood, grappling with an inner turmoil, torn between my connection to Chinese culture and tradition and my hope to liberate myself from self-imposed constraints linked to my heritage. This image represents a quest for belonging, adaptation, and identity in unfamiliar lands.”

Personal identity and family heritage are two themes touched upon by many of the young photographers shortlisted in the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards Student and Youth competition. Twenty photographers were singled out for their exceptional work and are now in the running for the title of Student Photographer of the Year and Youth Photographer of the Year.

The Student competition recognizes a body of work by those enrolled in leading higher education institutions. Participants were asked to submit a portfolio of five to 10 images in response to a brief. This year, that prompt was “Home.” The competition explains, “The shortlisted projects highlight the student photographers’ diverse perspectives on place, community, identity, and belonging, showing the nuanced stories and conversations they engage with as they develop their practices.”

Photographers aged 19 and under were invited to participate in the Youth competition. These young talents were asked to submit one image in response to the brief “Through Your Eyes.” This prompted interesting looks at their personal experiences. Several photographers created a commentary on their relationship with the natural world, while others used creative self-portraits to reflect on their own identities.

Scroll down to see all of the shortlisted entries, and stay tuned for the winners' announcement on April 18, 2024.

Here are the shortlisted entries for the Student and Youth competitions at the Sony World Photography Awards.

Women at a chatal

Untitled © Kazi Arifujjaman, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“A chatal is a place where paddy (raw rice) is boiled, dried in the sun, and threshed to be made into prepared rice – the staple food of Bangladesh. Families from different parts of the country work together in a chatal, which is also their place of residence. As many families from different cultures come together, the chatal becomes like a large house.”

Sunset over the mountain of Yala

“Snow Mountain at Sunset” © Chengchen Wang, China Mainland, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This photo was taken at the beginning of the year when the sun slowly set, and the sunset hit the snow mountain of Yala. It looked so holy, so I took this photo.”

Surfer walking on the beach in Cornwall

“Lonely Surfer” © Daniel Murray, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“I took this picture in Newquay, Cornwall, at the start of summer to capture the figure on the beach. I felt that this moment summed up Cornwall quite nicely in one picture.”

The Student competition involved submitting a portfolio in response to the prompt “Home.”

Self portrait spread out over tea bags

“Tea-Portrait” © Shayna Cuenca, United States, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“For my image titled ‘Tea-Portrait,’ I took a self-portrait, printed the image, and cut it into tea bag-sized pieces. I then transferred the cut pieces onto tea bags using Modge Podge, and reattached the tea bag strings. Finally, I laid out the bags and pieced them together to create my image.”

2024 Sony World Photography Awards - Student and Youth Shortlist

“Flock of Magic” © Zy Grei Zander Esperanza, Philippines, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This is an image inspired by the photographer Trent Parke. My image consists of two ICM shots of a flying flock of doves I photographed on 19 May in my backyard, then blended together in editing software. Though not taken with the same process as Parke’s, it still has the same goal that he is known for, to ‘turn the ordinary into the magical using light.’”

Helicopter carrying water over the Sourdough Fire in the North Cascades National Park

“The Beginning Hours of the Sourdough Fire” © River Lewis-Gosch, United States, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This was taken during the first hours of the Sourdough Fire, a fierce wildfire in the North Cascades National Park that was started by a lightning strike. While returning from a nearby backpacking trip in the woods, we came upon this fire. Completely surprised, I took out my camera and took this shot. A firefighting helicopter carrying water can be seen in the top right.”

Person in the Andes Tenement in Medellin, Colombia

“This is not the freedom they promised us” © Juan David Aguirre, Colombia, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“Supposedly, our entire system is meant to defend freedom, but only for those who can pay for it. The photographs in this series were all taken on August 10, 2023, in the Andes tenement in the city of Medellín, Colombia, a space inhabited by homeless people. The tenement is likened to a prison because in its rooms you can feel a sense of confinement: the people who live there look for bread each day, living with deep uncertainties about the future as even their dreams have been taken away.”

2024 Sony World Photography Awards - Student and Youth Shortlist

“20 Years of Service” © Brayan Enriquez, United States, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“They sit in the uniforms of the only job they could get: Steak ‘n Shake. Her name tag reads ‘Gloria Salinas, 20 years of service’. Twenty-six years ago, my parents immigrated to the United States. As a child, I would imagine my parents’ odyssey in rudimentary terms: walking, loving, and being bold. Through the years, however, I’ve managed to contextualize the reality of our situation and now use words such as treacherous, lonely, and fearful. When asked, my father replays the moment his group lay flat on their stomachs, hiding from an oblivious ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officer who sat nearby. My mother recalls trekking through knee-high mud in an Arizona desert, thousands of miles away from her home in Acapulco, Mexico. My sister, on the other hand, can’t remember much – she was only five years old at the time. This project navigates this complicated history, highlighting how this experience isn’t wholly unique to my family. The photographs were all taken within our home because of its function as a place of refuge for undocumented immigrants across the nation.”

Woman singing karaoke

“Don't Trust Pretty Girls” © Kayin Luys, Belgium, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This aunt loves to sing karaoke and often does during family gatherings. This series explores my relationship with my in-laws, with the title referring to the tattoo on my partner’s grandfather’s left arm. I wanted to explore the tension between fiction and reality, guided by stories I was told, memories, and my interpretations of both. The result is a play of possibilities that reflect and/or transcend reality. Thanks to the increasingly strong bond formed, I found a second home with my new family.”

2024 Sony World Photography Awards - Student and Youth Shortlist

“Keep Me Awake” © Kas Christiaens, Belgium, Shortlist, Youth Competiton, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This image is about light pollution. As a young artist interested in nature and stars, I became aware that light pollution is a major factor affecting the sky’s clarity. I live in Belgium, a small country with a large population living in the countryside, so there is light pollution everywhere you go. The red light in this image is coming from a street lantern, the blue light from a nearby city.”

2024 Sony World Photography Awards - Student and Youth Shortlist

“Peers” © Gaoge Ouchen, China Mainland, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“During the pandemic, time seemed to stand still. When I returned to my hometown, I shared the same worries with my peers who had likewise returned. The streets were filled with elderly people and children. In the backyard of my hometown, the orange trees my father planted had dropped their oranges to the ground.”

The Youth competition, for photographers 19 and under, entered a single image in response to the brief “Through Your Eyes.”

Appleby Horse Fair

“Appleby” © Frederik Rüegger, Germany, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“The English and Irish traveler communities face discrimination from many angles and are compelled to settle by the government. As a result, the nomadic lifestyle that has been a centuries-old part of their way of life is becoming more endangered than ever. There are, however, several events where the travelers can freely live out their traditions, including the horse fairs that are held each year at Ballinasloe, in County Galway, Ireland, and Appleby, England. In 2023, I photographed at both of these fairs, aiming to capture an intimate and authentic portrayal of the lives of the traveler communities. This project is set to continue for 18 months, and my goal is to highlight their rich cultural heritage, unique lifestyle, and the challenges they face. Through my photographs, I hope to shed light on the social importance of these communities and help foster an understanding and empathy among my audience.”

Children's clothes hanging on a clothesline in the sunshine

“Middle Break” © Yufei Ma, China Mainland, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This photo was taken at midday one day. The sun was shining on these children's clothes, hanging on the clothesline. In that moment, I felt a sense of calm, neutrality, and peace.”

The traditional weapon known as a ‘keris’ is expertly made by the master craftsman.

Untitled © Afiq Sharkawi, Malaysia, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“The traditional weapon known as a ‘keris’ is expertly made by the master craftsman.”

Orange Trees

“The Orange Tree” © Gaoge Ouchen, China Mainland, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“The orange trees in my grandmother’s home, which my father and mother diligently planted, dropped oranges all over the ground.”

The winners of both divisions will be announced on April 18.

Black and white portrait of a Soweto man who was a boxer

“Ta ii” © Makaziwe Radebe, South Africa, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“Whom was a boxer when he was younger, and his living room is filled with many of his trophies. I took pictures of his family with their chosen outfits and treasured objects while my mother and brother helped hold the white background.”

Basalt columns on a black beach in low visibility

“63.4057° N, 19.0716° W” © Isaac Friend, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“Basalt columns on a black beach in low visibility.”

This single pinhole photograph is composed of five negatives that together reflect both the confusion and acceptance of my identity.

“Resting in unfamiliar places (I)” © Siphosethu Sanelisiwe Sikhosana, South Africa, Shortlist, Student Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This single pinhole photograph is composed of five negatives that together reflect both the confusion and acceptance of my identity.”

Comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura)

“Comet Falls to Earth” © Sebastián Fernández Lora, Spain, Shortlist, Youth Competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2024
“This image is of comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura), which, close to the horizon like the Sun at dawn, appears to be falling onto Earth. This photo was taken from a rooftop on the morning of 8 September, shortly before sunrise.”

World Photography Organisation: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the Sony World Photography Awards.

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Inspiring National Winners of the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards

Incredible Professional Finalists from the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards

21 Winners and Finalists of the 2024 Sony World Photography Awards Open Competition

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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