Sony World Photography Awards 2023 Winners and One Refused Prize

Sony World Photography Awards 2023 Winners and One Refused Prize

During a special gala ceremony in London, the World Photography Organization announced the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023. After the ceremony, German photographer Boris Eldagsen refused his prize, trying to discuss the role of AI in photography.

If you are not familiar with the Sony World Photography Awards, it's a competition for photographers and photography artists that was established in 2007. Now, it’s one of the world's biggest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world. It consists of four different competitions: Professional, Open, Student, and Youth.

The gala award ceremony was held in London on April 13, where the winners of the event were announced and awarded. The event was presented by broadcaster and art historian Kate Bryan.

The award ceremony with Edgar Martins on stage to receive his Photographer of the Year award.

There were over 415,000 images send in worldwide, from over 200 countries. From these contributions, photographer Edgar Martins from Portugal was awarded Photographer of the Year for his series "Our War." The series was born from his search for the truth about the dead of his friend and photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed in 2011 during the Libyan Civil War.

Edgar Martins from Portugal won the Photographer of the Year Award for his series Our War, which is a homage to his friend and photographer, Anton Hammerl, who was killed in 2011 during the Libyan Civil War. (© Edgar Martins / Sony World Photography Awards 2023)

This year there was also a special Sustainability Prize, which was won by Alessandro Cinque from Italy. His series, "Atrapanieblas," documents an innovative solution to tackle water shortages in Lima, Peru by special fog nets. Water is collected for the local residents by using these fog nets, which can collect up to 200 liters of water per day.

One of the images from the series Atrapanieblas by Alessandro Cinque from Italy, winner of the special Sustainability Prize (© Alessandro Cinque | Sony World Photography Awards 2023)

The Professional Competition Winners

The winners of the Professional Competition were selected from participants that submitted series of five to ten images. This year’s winners were:

  • Architecture and design: Fan Li from the China Mainland for his series "Cement Factory."
  • Creative: Lee-Ann Olwage from South Africa for her series "The Right to Play."
  • Documentary projects: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham from the United Kingdom for his series "The Women’s Peace Movement in Congo."
  • Environment: Marisol Mendez from Bolivia together with Federico Kaplan from Argentina for their series "Miruku."
  • Landscape: Kacper Kowalski from Poland for his series "Event Horizon."
  • Portfolio: James Deavin from the United Kingdom for his submission " Portfolio."
  • Portraiture: Edgar Martins from Portugal for his series "Our War."
  • Sport: Al Bello from the United States for his series "Female Pro Baseball Player Succeeds in All Male Pro League."
  • Still Life: Kechun Zhang from the China Mainland for his series "The Sky Garden."
  • Wildlife and nature: Corey Arnold from the United States for his series "Cities Gone Wild."

Unfortunately, not all winners from the China Mainland were able to attend the gala award ceremony, but they did respond by a video message that was broadcast during the event.

All winning series can be found on the website of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023.

Photographers of the Year

There were 10 Open Category winners, from which Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico won the Open Photographer of Year Award with her photo of two caracara birds.

Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico won the Open Category Photographer of the Year award with this image of two Caracaras (© Dinorah Graue Obscura / Sony World Photography Awards 2023)

Student Photographer of the year is won by Long Jing of the Yunnan Arts University. Another Chinese photographer, the 19-year-old Hai Wang, was awarded Youth Photographer of the year. The Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi was rewarded for her outstanding contribution to photography, capturing intimate images of moments of everyday life.

For the Open Competition, the following winners were announced:

  • Architecture: Mark Benham  from the United Kingdom.
  • Lifestyle: Azim Khan Ronnie from Bangladesh.
  • Object: Mieke Douglas from the Netherlands.
  • Travel: Max Vere-Hodge from the United Kingdom.
  • Motion: Zhenhuan Zhou from the China Mainland.
  • Portraiture: Sukhy Hullait from the United Kingdom.
  • Landscape: Giorgos Rousopoulos from Greece.
  • Natural world and wildlife: Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico.
  • Street photography: Andreas Mikonauschke from Germany.

Hai Wang from China won the Youth Photographer of the Year award. (© Hai Wang, Sony World Photography Awards 2023)

No Winner for the Creative Open Competition Category

If you search for the winner of the Creative Open Competition, you will find only a shortlist of photographers and not a winner. The award was first given to a German photographer named Boris Eldagsen for his image "The Electrician." But after he was awarded, he took the stage just after the gala diner to decline the prize. He proclaimed it was an AI-generated image, part of a series called "Pseudomnesia: Fake Memories." With his action, he wanted to give attention to the growing AI-generated images and to start a discussion on the role of AI in modern photography.

The AI-generated image that won the awards but was removed from the winners after the announcement of the German photographer Eldagsen. (© Boris Eldagsen, Germany, former winner open competition Creative | Sony World Photographer Awards 2023)

The photo is no longer shown or mentioned on the website of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023. 

Exhibition at Somerset House, London

From April 14th until May 1st, 2023, the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition can be visited at Somerset House in London. All winning photographs are showcased, including a curated selection of 20 photographs by photographer Rinko Kawauchi from Japan.  

At Somerset House in London before the award ceremony that evening.

Marisol Mendez from Bolivia & Federico Kaplan from Argentina at Somerset House talking about their winning series Miruku.

Fan Li from China at the Sony World Photography Award exhibition at Somerset House in London.

Landscape photographer Kacper Kowalski from Poland talking about his winning series "Event Horizon" at Somerset House in London.

The exhibition at the Somerset House in London.

There is also a solo presentation by Adam Furguson, the Photographer of Year 2022 winner. His series "Silent Wind, Roaring Sky" shows the remote lives of the communities in Australia’s Outback. For more information, you can visit the website of the World Photography Organization.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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