Striking images showing the aftermath of wildfires, evocative portraits of bushmeat hunters and some of the most indelible shots from the US Capitol riot are among the works that will determine the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year.
The images were chosen from over 156,000 submissions, the highest number in the history of the prestigious award, now in its 15th year. The entries are part of the professional competition, which judges photographers based on a body of work of several images in any of 10 categories, including environment, landscape, portraiture and still life.
Three finalists were selected for each category, with the intent of rewarding both technical skill and an original approach to contemporary subjects, as all of the images under consideration were taken in 2021.
“At points we all may have felt that the ongoing Covid crisis meant that the world had shut down, but when reviewing these projects it is clear nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mike Trow, chair of the panel judging the competition, in a statement. “To have the chance to see so much work from across the world is both humbling and energising.”
Among the finalists are Yun Chi Chen from Taiwan, who took inspiration from the process of drawing traditional architectural blueprints to create multilayered images of prominent buildings, such a Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, which is set to be demolished this year; Raphaël Neal from the UK, who created diptychs that juxtapose climate change scenes with portraits of teenagers who will inherit the effects of the climate crisis, each showing a different reaction in the face of danger; and Ricardo Teles from Brazil, who documented the country’s Indigenous Xingu tribe and their martial art called Huka-huka, a ritual honoring the dead that last year was devoted predominantly to victims of Covid-19.
Also notable are the ethereal images taken by Gareth Iwan Jones, a freelance portrait photographer who found himself unable to work during the coronavirus lockdowns of 2021 in the UK. He then turned his lens to the figures of nearby trees, shot against dawn or dusk skies and lit using drones, leading to an otherworldly depiction of nature.
Perhaps the most recognizable image from the competition is the one showing Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman,” as he screams inside the Senate chamber – one of the most iconic photographs from the US Capitol riot of 2021, taken by Getty photographer Win McNamee.
The award, run by the World Photography Organisation, has three other competitions: open, which rewards single images rather than bodies of work; a monthly youth contest for young talent ages 12 to 19; and student competition, for photography scholars across the world.
Winners for all competitions will be announced on April 12, and a selection of images by finalists and shortlisted photographers will form an exhibition at London’s Somerset House that starts the next day and lasts until May 2. The professional competition also awards a prize of $25,000 to the Photographer of the Year winner, who is selected from the finalists.
Last year, the award went to British documentarian Craig Easton for “Bank Top,” a series of black-and-white images and text highlighting social deprivation, immigration and unemployment in the town of Blackburn, in northern England.