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Professional Competition Focus #3

5 years ago


As the deadline for the Professional Competition approaches on January 11, 2019 at 13.00 GMT, we take a look at some awarded series from the last three years of the Sony World Photography Awards.

Recognising outstanding bodies of work, the Professional Competition is free to enter and open to all. It is judged on a body of work across 10 diverse categories.




Suspension" by Stefano Morelli

2018 Professional Competition, Shortlisted, Contemporary Issues

Around 20 miles from Armenia’s capital city of Yerevan sits the antiquated Metsamor nuclear power plant in the town of the same name. The plant has long been a cause for concern for at least two reasons; it was built without containment vessels, and it sits in a seismic zone. In fact, it was closed in 1989 after a devastating earthquake hit nearby. In 2011, National Geographic even suggested that it might be the world’s most dangerous nuclear plant. 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution when the Tsar was defeated and the Soviet Union began to take shape. I visited the town in January to document its way of life and found a population of 10,000, of whom 1,000 still work at the plant, living in a town of old Soviet buildings and caught in suspension between doubts and fears, poverty and survival, life and death.



"The Seaflower Venture" by Martin Toft

2018 Professional Competition, Shortlisted, Discovery

The Seaflower Venture is a transatlantic research and photographic project exploring the island of Jersey's maritime and mercantile links to Canada during the very profitable cod-trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. The project is centred around cod-merchant Charles Robin who founded the most successful Jersey firm on the Gaspé Coast and the extraordinary photographic archive and unpublished fictional biography of Robin's life based on his own diaries written by Phyllis Ross in the 1950s. Using her manuscript of some 275,000 words as a narrative structure and probing this important history of Jersey's maritime identity through a photographic discourse my interest is in the creative potential for image-making between the fictional and non-fictional story about Robin's trading posts in the new British colonies in North America, which he established in 1766 soon after the French defeat in the Seven Years War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763.)


"Like sugar in milk", by Majlend Bramo

2017 Professional Competition, Shortlisted, Daily Life

The series tells the story of the Parsi community, the last followers of the oldest monotheistic religion on Earth, Zoroastrianism. Parsis are the people that 1200 years ago escaped from Persia during the Arab invasion and found shelter in India. Their religion traces its origin back to the prophet Zarathustra that was living around 1000 years before Christ and it is incredible that this religion is still alive and active after so many centuries. The Parsi community has reduced by half in the last 60 years reaching the lowest level, to just 57000 people.


"Sweet Water Bitter Earth" by Kurt Tong

2017 Professional Competition, Shortlisted, Landscape

Chinese people outside of China often struggle with their Chinese identity, with many having an idealised image of what the motherland is like, whether it’s from stories told by our relatives or from the romanticised views of the movies. The reality is often very different, especially given the accelerated speed at which China is changing. It is often this failure to meet our expectations and the vast, often unexpected difference in cultures that alienate us from feeling comfortable and secure with our roots. After trying to photograph my ancestral town, I realised how few connections I have with the place, emotionally or physically. I realised that my own vision of China was also shaped by TV shows of my childhood and more recently, photographic projects made in China. I went further into China in search of my own preconceived image of China. However as I traveled to all corners of the vast country, I found myself connecting only to the landscapes, whilst feeling alienated and disconnected from the people; I realised that my dream of redemption and return to a lost homeland was, ultimately, a failure.



"Beached" by Alejandro Beltran

Professional competition, Shortlisted, Conceptual

Beached humans on unknown shores.


"Joy for All Ages" by Andrea Rossato  

2016 Professional competition, Shortlist, Candid

In the summer, holidays at the seaside are a time of joy and fun for all ages. If we do not look at the different costumes, the scenes remain unchanged over time. The elderly are taken back to their childhood, parents make jokes to the children, social conventions are flaunted and new relationships are formed. Stopping to look at the different behaviour of people on a pier is hilarious and often allows you to freeze the moment in your memory