From the series “At the end of the day” by Laetitia Vançon, France, Shortlist, Professional, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “This series is a portrait of a territory through the prism of its younger generation. The Outer Hebrides are a string of islands (220km long with 27,000 inhabitants), located in the far North of Scotland, on the edge of what used to be Europe before Brexit. What is the daily life of these young people, in a place where the population is aging and the economy is declining, where jobs and studies but also their choice of partners are limited? Danielle Mac Gillivray 28 years old, raises alone her son Peter, four years old. She works in her father’s souvenir shop in Benbecula, the island where she lived and grew up. A single mother, suffering from multiple sclerosis, Danielle is aware that in her small community it will not be easy to rebuild her life.”
The 2019 Sony World Photography Awards are in full swing, as we head toward the final awards ceremony in April. After announcing the Open competition single image winners, the 2019 Professional shortlist has been revealed. Judged anonymously by international photo experts, the 2019 shortlist is a vibrant and diverse look at today’s professional photography.
This year, professional photographers from 161 countries submitted their work, which was entered as a series of five to ten photographs. In the end, 30 countries are represented on the shortlist, including Nevis, Finland, Japan, Colombia, and Iran. This international flair is part of what makes the Sony World Photography Awards a leader in highlighting emerging and established talent and worldwide storytelling.
From moving photo essays that touch on issues of human rights to explorations of how we are in danger of eroding natural habitats, the work of these photographers is a slice of contemporary life around the world. The World Photography Organisation, which runs the contest, writes, “each series demonstrate artistic prowess and expertize in photographic techniques, editing, and visual storytelling, providing audiences with captivating stories about humanity and the contemporary world. Each series is a visual masterpiece that clearly demonstrates the photographer’s point of view.”
The shortlisted photographers will now compete both within each category and for the top prize of $25,000 if they are named Photographer of the Year. The winners will be revealed on April 17, 2019 at an awards ceremony in London.
Take a look at some of our favorite images from the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Professional shortlist.
“The Avondale Primary Majorettes” from the series “Drummies” by Alice Mann, South Africa, Shortlist, Professional, Brief, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “These images depict the unique and aspirational subculture surrounding all-female teams of drum majorettes in South Africa, affectionately known as “drummies”, based in some of the country’s most marginalized communities. For the girls and young women involved, being a “drummie” is a privilege and an achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. Being part of a team offers them a sense of belonging and increases their sense of self-worth, vital in communities where opportunities for young women are severely limited. A female-only sport, it’s a safe space where they are encouraged to excel; their distinctive uniforms are a visual marker of success and emancipation from their surroundings. This is part of my ongoing work exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society and I hope these images communicate the pride and confidence these girls achieve through identifying as “drummies” in a context where they face many social challenges.”
From the series “An Elegy for the Death of Hamun” by Hashem Shakeri, Iran, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Hossein, a 13-year-old boy, is from Beris, Chaabahar, Balouchestan, which although it is a free-zone area and is located next to the harbor, has very oppressed residents. Despite the fact that they live near the sea, they lack healthy drinking water. The largest proportion of suburban residents who live in poverty are located here in this city. Beris harbor is an oppressed region in Chaabahar. The natives in Beris are the oldest residents of Chaabahar. The people of Beris live in hardship, poverty, and famine. However, after seeing their farms dried up and their livestock lost, which has led to their unemployment, most of the residents of Zabol, especially farmers and livestock breeders, have decided to move to the tourist city of Chaabahar, which suffers from a lack of water. Many of them have turned to driving.”
“Popular Resistance Icon” from the series “Palestinian Right of Return Protests” by Mustafa Hassona, Palestine, State of, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “A shirtless young protester in Gaza gripping a Palestinian flag with one hand and swinging a slingshot over his head with the other, on the northern border between the Gaza Strip and Israel in the weekly protests organized by Palestinian protesters to protest against the Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has been imposed by Israel for the past 12 years.”
From the series “The two parallels” by Karina Bikbulatova, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Professional, Discovery, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “This black-and-white series of photos ‘about two sisters abandoned by their father, a reunion which can be no question. Just because they don’t know about each other the most important thing…’ They meet once a year in a small village, – communicate, play, weave braids to each other, but don’t know that they are sisters. Gulshat lives in a poor family, in a small village. Alina lives in the city, studies in a prestigious school, and does ballet. Two lives that run parallel and that should not intersect never, according to the lV postulate of Euclid. And yet this happens, as in the hyperbolic geometry of Nikolai Ivanovich Lobačevskij. In a Russian village, two parallel lines meet once a year.”
“Entos Eyesus” from the series “Hierotopia” by Kieran Dodds, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Landscape, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Entos Eyesus church forest on an island in Lake Tana near Bahir Dar. Ethiopia has lost 95% of its native forests due to human activity in the last century. What remains surrounds circular Tewahedo Orthodox churches; these ancient canopies are protected as a tenet of faith. The country’s population will double in the next 30 years, further pressurizing these natural treasures. Thousands of forest fragments exist across Northern Ethiopia – green islands of biodiversity in an expanding sea of agriculture – but a mere fraction are viable. Incremental erosion from grazing and subsistence agriculture is destructive: thinned forest edges kill the canopy from the outside in. To their guardians, each forest is a miniature Garden of Eden, essential to the building’s dignity. One priest described the trees as “the clothes of the church”. The forest’s religious significance is equaled by its ecological function: these sacred oases raise water tables, lower temperatures, block destructive winds and are home to yield-boosting pollinators. These genetic repositories are vital for human survival in Ethiopia.”
From the series “Only Because of Him” by Sadegh Zabbah, Iran, Shortlist, Professional, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Every year in the days of martyrdom of Shia Muslim’s eighth Imam, Muslims from all over Iran, even from other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Iraq and etc., come to Mashhad by foot to visit the holy shrine in Mashhad city, as pilgrims.”
“Transformation” from the series “Capsulated Series” (courtesy of Galerie Number 8) by Djeneba Aduayom, France, Shortlist, Professional, Creative, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “his is an ongoing project/series called capsulated, an interpretation of an imaginary inner world translating numerous emotions and states of minds brought by rejection, solitude, and stereotypes. ‘To be inside a bubble, the world is a bubble. I am encapsulated in my own bubble. Within my own self, connected and disconnected all at once. Express, repress. Rejection makes me fragile and strong all at once. See me beyond the surface, see me beyond my differences. I am an Introvert in a world of extraverts. Movement of expression and self-reflection are the way forward. To touch someone’s heart is to touch the world one drop at a time so that the misconceptions melt away. See me for who I am, don’t judge me for what you see. I am inside a bubble. Capsulated.'”
From the series “A Harrowing Journey, Then Chaos at the Border” by Kim Kyung-Hoon , Korea (Republic of), Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Fernando Velosque, a migrant boy from Honduras sits in front of Mexican policemen while a group of migrants gathers near the El Chaparral port of entry (or border crossing) between Mexico and the United States in Tijuana, Mexico November 22, 2018.”
From the series “Outlawing the Face Veil in Denmark” by Andrew Kelly , Australia, Shortlist, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Yah, 37, (R) and wearer of the niqab weeps as she is embraced by a police officer during a demonstration against the Danish face veil ban in Copenhagen, Denmark, August 1, 2018. On May 31, 2018, the Danish government voted to ban the wearing of face veils in public. Under the law, police will be able to instruct women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Fines will range from 1,000 to 10,000 crowns ($160 – $1600).. The ban would prevent Muslim women from wearing the niqab or burqa in public. Some politicians asserted that the law promoted public safety and secular and democratic values. But many people felt it was an easy way for the government to appease a growing nationalist voter base.”
“Musical Master’s Home” from the series “Dormitory Belongings” by Zhipeng Zhu, China, Shortlist, Professional, Brief, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “The dormitory is the living space of College students. The objects in the dormitory embody personal hobbies, habits and so on. I exaggerate the articles in the dormitory to show the personality of these people. I call these individualized objects dormitory furniture, which are the most characteristic items of these people in the dormitory. Through this, I can see that Some personal possessions can show their interesting features.”
From the series “Güle Güle” by Jean-Marc Caimi & Valentina Piccinni, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Discovery, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Güle Güle (goodbye in Turkish) is a personal project focused on the city of Istanbul. To document the profound changes happening in the city and within Turkish society, we got in close contact with the realities that are the driving forces and the results of this change. Bosphorus boat wedding parties are a very popular choice among young couples, in particular for long established middle-class immigrants people from the Eastern countries, like Armenians, Iraqi and Afghans.”
“Yellow and White Cabana” from the series “Cabana” by David Behar, United States of America, Shortlist, Professional, Architecture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “There is an intrinsic charm in the cabana rental structures of Miami Beach. Each is unique and often paired with the umbrellas it rents out to form a small community of matching hues. The hotel staff will even have matching uniforms to top it off. This series came about in late 2017 and early 2018 after getting tired of shooting Miami’s lifeguard towers. Everyone does it and everyone’s seen them, but the cabanas are often overlooked. There are dozens of them but most people have no idea unless they’re willing to walk for hours. Now this series exists you don’t have to, but you still should.”
“Lithium Mining XXVI” from the series “Lithium Mining” by Catherine Hyland, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Professional, Landscape, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “SQM mine in the Atacama desert in northern Chile. The Atacama is famous for being the world’s driest place. Four thousand meters above sea level in the rain shadow of the Andes Mountains, almost no rain falls here and the people who do live here have historically scraped a living by breeding llamas and goats or knitting hats. So it’s remote and isolated. It’s also the world’s largest source of lithium, home to minerals that provide the power that fuels our modern daily life. Break down a smartphone battery and you’ll find 3 grams of lithium in there. A laptop has around seventy grams. Move up to an electric car and you’ll find twenty kilograms. Lithium is the element of the moment and the Atacama is where most of it comes from.”
“Striped Marlin hunting” from the series “Ocean Ambassadors” by Christian Vizl, Mexico, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “México, Baja California Sur, Bahia Magdalena. A striped marlin hunting a school of mackerel some 40 miles off the coast of San Carlos. I have devoted my life to exploring and contemplating the amazing beauty of the ocean and it has been an incredible journey that has brought me a deep feeling of connection with nature, but sadly during my lifetime, I have witnessed the ever-increasing devastation that we humans are creating on this planet. Today the world’s oceans are in grave danger.”
From the series “H o m e” by Felicia Simion, Romania, Shortlist, Professional, Architecture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Within the traditional Romanian mindset, the house is considered the nucleus of the family life, a primordial space which generates and preserves vital energies. As a photographer traveling across Romania, I watched villages and towns being architecturally transformed during the last years, as a consequence of cultural appropriation, as part of the globalization process. I photographed the remains of a so-called „traditional” world and also a more „modern” approach to the concept of home, featuring imposing palace-like houses and apartment complexes built at the cities’ outskirts. By isolating them in natural landscapes, as a form of decontextualization, I questioned the meanings and attributions of the habitat, and how they are reflected in the fluidity of the architectural styles. Is the house a primordial site anymore, or have its functions diminished to a utilitarian meaning? Has the house been relocated from the center of the world to its periphery?”
“Bubble Up!” from the series “The Normals” Pol Kurucz, France, Shortlist, Professional, Creative, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “By definition, most people are ‘normal’. Some want to be different and follow the norms of a specific social or cultural tribe, they are normal too. And there are those who would laugh at nonsensical categorizations, who don’t believe in or live by conventions, who create their own reality and live it naturally. They are the subject of Pol Kurucz’s last photo series: genuine eccentrics, weirdos and lunatics who in the eyes of the photographer are the new normals. Shooting for this last series took entirely place in the Kolor Studio, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, where all the sets and accessories were built by the Kolor Art Collective. Most models, performers, and actors featured in the photos come from the city’s humanist microcosm and themselves belong to redefined groups of eccentrics.”
“Sunset on the Sierra Madre” from the series “Two Headed Eagle” by Maela Ohana, France, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Garlic Flower in Sierra Madre de Oaxaca. Two Headed Eagle is a collection of botanical portraits and landscape photographs shot during the short moments of dusk and dawn. During the golden hour, a sense of mystery envelops the landscape, creating uncanny interactions between flora and their natural surroundings. Most of these images were shot in February 2018, when I spent a month hiking in the Sierra Madre mountains of Oaxaca, and along the Pacific Coast.”
From the series “Boxing Against Violence: The Female Boxers Of Goma” by Alessandro Grassani, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Sport, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Elysèe, 16 years old. portrayed on the streets of central Goma, she is part of one of the official boxing clubs in Goma. Elysèe tells: ‘I’ve been boxing for 2 years, it’s something that gives me strength and courage to defend myself and makes me feel accepted everywhere. In this city there is so much violence that you must always be ready to react. Under the ashes of this society there are latent conflicts, a violence ready to explode at any moment. Thanks to boxing I feel ready to face these dangers.’ Democratic Republic of Congo. Goma. 29/05/2018.”
“Birama & Ndeye Fatou” from the series “Pères” by Marta Moreiras, Spain, Shortlist, Professional, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. “Pères is born as a reflection on fatherhood, to promote gender equality and social development in Africa. We live in a world permeated by stereotypes, of which we are often victims. Pères questions these clichés that we carry as a burden, in a literal way and also symbolically, to create a pathway towards an open dialogue on a crucial and significant matter. Pères aims to inspire social change and strives to support women in their battle for gender equality. It is a symbolic act that implies an invitation to reflect on gender roles. These portraits make the role of the father visible as well as promoting a more balanced family model, where fathers are engaged in the education and care of their children at the same level as mothers.”
My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by the World Photography Organisation.