Sony Photography Awards: As the winners are announced, here’s 10 top travel shots

After months of teasers, shortlists, and anticipation, the Sony Photography Awards have finally announced their winning photographers and images.

Italian artist Federico Borella scooped the grand prize (and with it £19,215), a series on Spanish orange farming won Sergi Villanueva the student award, and legendary portraitist Nadav Kander was recognised for lifetime achievement.

An image from Federico Borella’s Photographer Of The Year-winning series (Federico Borella, Italy, Photographer of the Year, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Was it worth the wait? Here’s a selection of the finest finalists so you can decide for yourself…

1. Akashinga – Brent Stirton

(Brent Stirton, South Africa, 2nd Place, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Bright but brutal, and unapologetic in its physicality, this image chronicles the struggles of the Akashinga (‘the brave ones’ in the local dialect), an all-female troupe of Zimbabwean conversation rangers working to protect the country’s wilderness.

2. Sunset on the Sierra Madre – Maela Ohana

(Maela Ohana, France, 3rd Place, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

The product of a month of camerawork in the Sierra Madre mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, this shot shows a garlic flower framed against the glow of the sinking sun. “During the short moments of dusk and dawn,” says Ohana, “a sense of mystery envelops the landscape, creating uncanny interactions between flora and their natural surroundings.”

3. Striped Marlin Hunting – Christian Vizl

(Christian Vizl, Mexico, 2nd Place, Professional, Natural World & Wildlife, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

A shot so dynamic is almost needs no explanation, Christian Vizl picked out this image while a striped marlin hunted a school of mackerel some 40 miles off the Mexican Pacific coast. Vizl has devoted his whole life to contemplating and capturing the world’s oceans, and hopes to raise awareness of the “ever-increasing devastation” humans are wreaking on land and sea.

4. The Day before the Corban Festival – Boyuan Zhang

(Boyuan Zhang, China, 2nd Place, Professional, Discovery, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

This remote roadside can be found in Xinjiang, a giant, autonomous region in Western China and homeland to photographer Boyuan Zhang. Modern developments spring from the ground alongside crumbling ruins and ancient monuments submerged beneath the dunes.

“The replacement of civilisation is just like a city in the desert,” says Zhang. “It appears after being blown by the wind, is eroded by the wind, and is finally obscured by the sands.”

5. Untitled – Peter Franck

(Peter Franck, Germany, 3rd Place , Professional, Architecture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Mesmerising, confusing, and a little haunting, this shot is from a series that aims to “move along the border between photography and painting.” Franck’s description of the individual image is perhaps deceptively simple: “Heroes shine even at night.”

6. Haidong North Mountain Forest Park Construction Site – Yan Wang Preston

(Yan Wang Preston, United Kingdom, 1st Place, Professional, Landscape, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

The history behind this photo is, to say the least, a little complicated. “This series depicts the otherworldly ‘ecology recovery’ landscape in Haidong

Development Zone in Dali, China,” says photographer Yan Wang Preston.

“A small rural area is being urbanised to create ‘an international leisure town and ecology model’. The topsoil is being replaced with red, semi-artificial soil as a base for introduced, mostly non-indigenous plants. Meanwhile, green plastic netting is being used to cover everything unappealing to the eye – the objective has shifted from an ‘ecological’ concern to a cosmetic one, trying to be visually green.”

Phew. Get all of that?

7. Popular Resistance Icon – Mustafa Hassona

(Mustafa Hassona, Palestine, 3rd Place, Professional, Documentary, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Regardless of your politics, there’s no denying the artistry of this shot. Snapped amid the ongoing protests at the Israel-Gaza border, photographer Mustafa Hassona captured this smoky image with the protester mid-sling.

8. Entos Eyesus – Kieran Dodds

(Kieran Dodds, United Kingdom, 3rd Place, Professional, Landscape, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Gorgeously ethereal and sumptuously framed, this shot by Kieran Dodds represents perhaps the best of British. A miniature Eden in the heart of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, this islet is a rare haven for greenery in a country that has lost the vast majority of its natural forest.

9. At the End of the Day – Laetitia Vançon

(Laetitia Vançon, France, 3rd Place, Professional, Portraiture, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

Laetitia Vançon snapped this image on a ferry between North Uist and the Isle of Harris – two of the larger land masses in the Scottish Outer Hebrides – as part of a broader effort to capture the islands “through the prism of its younger generation”. We’re not sure if it’s peaceful or mournful – it’s quite possibly both.

10. Awareness – Kohei Ueno

(Kohei Ueno, Japan, 2nd Place, Professional, Sport, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards/PA)

To many of us, freediving (descending to the depths of the ocean with no oxygen or safety equipment, and seeing who can last the longest), may seem the preserve of the insane, but for photographer Kohei Ueno it’s quite the reverse.

“Freedivers dive in a meditative state,” he says, “lowering their heart rate and relaxing their body to consume the least amount of oxygen. Calmness, stillness, peace and silence – the words often used to describe this sport – are what I try to portray in the photos.”

- Press Association


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