As always the standard of work in this years Sony World Photography Awards was astonishing. We have picked out a few of our standouts.
The winner of the Landscape category and also taking home the prestigious Photographer of the Year Award this year was Frederik Buyckx from Belgium. His work, 'Whiteout' is a stunning depiction of the interplay between humans and nature. He says of the project, "There is a peculiar transformation of nature when winter comes, when snow and ice start to dominate the landscape and when humans and animals have to deal with the extreme weather. The series investigates this struggle against disappearance. The struggle against a whiteout. These photos were made in the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia; remote areas where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature. A harsh existence, fighting against superhuman forces."
Sandra Hoyn's 'The Longings of Others' project about the The Kandapara brothel in the district of Tangail, Bangladesh is an uncompromisingly direct and honest exposé of the lives of the sex workers who live and work there with their children and their madams. The 'bonded girls', young sex workers who have just entered the brothel are the most vulnerable and have no freedom or rights; they belong to a madam, have debts and are not allowed to go outside or keep their money.
One of our other favourites from the awards was George Mayer's 'Light. Shadows. Perfect Woman' a beautifully delicate handling of light and shadow which perfectly demonstrates the diversity of the awards and also the diversity of storytelling through photography. Technically perfect, the talent shown in constructing these stripped back, sculptural images is sublime.
'Indelible Marks' by Henry Agudelo is an extremely grotesque but compelling story about the more than 130,000 people who are listed as ‘disappeared’ in Columbia due to the war and violence in the country. Many bodies that are not identified go to medical universities to be studied pending a family member recognising and claiming them. Marks on some part of their body, whether a tattoo, a mark on one of their bones , a prosthesis, or some belonging (chain, rings, glasses, watches, shoes, etc.) become invaluable in identifying the countless annonymous bodies.
The story of twins Liu Bingqing and Liu Yujie in a sports school in Jining, in Shandong province, China was one of our standouts from the winners. Documenting the pains and hardships of their journey to becoming gymnasts it gives an incredible insight into their strict training regime. Yuan Peng deals with the subject in a revealing but non-voyeuristic way, conveying their hopes and dreams.