The World Photography Organisation is delighted to release new works by the four professional photographers who received this year’s Sony Grant. Chosen from the Professional category winners of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, the newest Sony Grant recipients are Alys Tomlinson (UK), Luca Locatelli (Italy), Tom Oldham (UK) and Balazs Gardi (Hungary).
Each photographer was given USD 7,000 and the latest Sony digital imaging equipment in April 2018, along with the freedom to create entirely new works or to use the grant to develop a long-term project. Taken with Sony cameras, the resulting artworks address global and personal concerns and were shot across Italy, Belarus, France, the United States and the United Kingdom.
You will be able to see the final works at the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London in April 2019. We are pleased to give you insight into the four winning photographers and their works:
2018 Photographer of the Year and 1st Place, Professional Discovery category
Tomlinson has used the Sony Grant to create a series called Vera, which was developed from her award-winning series, Ex-Voto. In this further body of work, she uses film and photography to focus on the fascinating story of a Belarusian nun. Living in a rural convent, Vera has an intense and spiritual connection with the wild horses she looks after on the convent's farm. Other duties include teaching vulnerable men and women (including drug addicts, ex-convicts, domestic abuse survivors and the homeless) new skills, to help them recuperate and find purpose in life. Influenced by Polish and Russian filmmakers, Tomlinson intimately explores Vera's story using personal accounts and drawing on history, tradition and the power of faith.
"The Sony Grant enabled me to travel to Belarus to document life inside a convent with Sr. Vera (featured in my series 'Ex-Voto'). It was a fascinating experience and I was given to access a world often hidden from view. The Grant has given me freedom to experiment with digital and moving image, allowing me to develop my practice and challenge myself creatively,” says Tomlinson.
1st Place, Professional Landscape category
Locatelli has created a new body of work as part of his ongoing five-year project MATERIA: How we live on this planet, which explores humanity’s reactions to the growing environmental and population strains on earth. He has focused on capturing images of two major European cities that he feels combine tradition and modernity - London (UK) and Milan (Italy). He uses these contemporary cityscapes to imaginatively suggest possible views of the future.
Locatelli comments “As we know, today most of humanity is living in a city and the struggle to improve the quality of our lives in cities is one of the most pressing targets on the planet’s agenda. The fabric and appearance of European cities often combines history and modernity. For the Sony Grant, I have focused on this quality and used it to offer a visual projection of our urban future.”
1st Place, Professional Portraiture category
Oldham has explored ‘Ball Culture’, LGBTQ+ community events which originated in 1970s Harlem. Centred around competitions between ‘Houses’, the balls involve dancers performing in battles and ‘walks’ on a catwalk before a panel of judges. In his series titled Shoot An Arrow and Go Real High, Oldham travelled to Paris, New York and London to photograph portraits with the incredibly diverse range of characters and costumes participating in these events.
He said: “The Sony Grant has enabled me to expand my project from local to global. It has truly broadened my perspective on the scene I’m shooting and I’m very grateful for the far more rounded shape the work now enjoys. The Grant believes in helping photographers hit their next goals, helping them reach beyond the point at which they may have settled without it - which is a wonderful thing,” says Oldham.
1st Place, Professional Sport category
Gardi focuses his series Can I Play? on the healing and uniting power of soccer in the local immigrant community in his hometown of Oakland, California. He focuses particularly on a group of young people who have moved to the States from places of unrest across the world, and explores how the sport has helped them find an identity in their circumstances.
"Not long after I moved to Oakland, California, it was named the most diverse city in the United States. As Americans were becoming more and more polarized in their attitudes towards immigrants I was looking out for ways to meet them. Soccer Without Borders started to work with immigrant and refugee youth over a decade ago, and I feel very fortunate to be able to photograph their extraordinary effort to build a lasting community and help these kids navigate their newly found home. The Sony Grant has not only helped me to continue working with this vibrant community but also provides the much needed platform for the work to be seen around the world,” adds Gardi.