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Results revealed! Open competition category winners and shortlist

4 years ago

All images Open competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2020 – credits in order of appearance: © Emma Williams, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Motion © Hong Chen, Hong Kong, Shortlist, Landscape © Ted Lau, United Kingdom, Finalist, Culture © Simone Bramante, Italy, Shortlist, Still Life

Today we announced the category winners and shortlist from the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 Open competition. Photographers both established and emerging, and from a vast range of backgrounds could submit spectacular standalone images to one of 10 categories: Architecture, Creative, Culture, Landscape, Motion, Natural World & Wildlife, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography and Travel. 

More than 345,000 images from 203 territories were submitted across the Awards' four competitions – the highest number to date.

View the full shortlist, finalist and category winners in the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 competition here. 


Emotional Geography is a black & white image featuring 38° Parallelo, a pyramid-shaped sculpture by Mauro Staccioli which stands at the exact point where the geographical coordinates touch the 38th parallel.


Knot is a portrait of a young woman with a collage of symbolic elements. This single black & white image is part of the series Hua (meaning flower in Chinese) which looks at flowers as metaphors of femininity.


Mark 5:28, a photograph capturing the moment when members of the audience were invited on stage to dance at an Iggy Pop concert in the Sydney Opera House on 17 April 2019. Depicting Iggy Pop in a crowd of dancing fans, the image focuses on the singer, a woman reaching to touch him and a stage assistant struggling to keep people at bay. The scene, which was likened to a Caravaggio painting, conjures a biblical passage: Because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:25-34, line 28).


Ice Reflections, an image of a solitary iceberg, set against the fjord walls in Northeast Greenland National Park. The iceberg and surrounding landscape are perfectly mirrored in the clear waters of the river resulting in a painterly and abstract photograph.


Going Down!, a record of the moment the four cooling towers of Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire were demolished on 6 December 2019.

Tai Chi Diagram, taken in Botswana, is a the picture featuring two cheetahs licking each other clean following a successful hunt – their position in the frame resembles the shape of a Yin and Yang symbol.


Black Francis, a black & white portrait, originally taken for MOJO Magazine, of Pixies frontman Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis). When approaching the assignment Oldham, an experienced portrait photographer, was painfully aware of the many photoshoots his sitter has been the subject of and asked him to acknowledge his frustration with the process. The resulting image, picturing the singer digging his hands into his face, offered the perfect gesture and ran as the lead image for the article.


A Plastic Ocean is a photograph of a dead fish seemingly struggling for breath in a plastic bag. The image aims to highlight the plastic pollution crisis impacting our oceans.


Colombia Resiste, the photograph documents a protester in the city of Medellin where workers and street vendors were taking part in a march when the Medellin riot squad dispersed them. This demonstration is one of many that have broken out across Latin America in recent years for reasons including the rising cost of living, inequality and lack of opportunity.



Riding a Saharan Freight Train was taken from the top of the rear carriage of the iron-ore train in Mauritania as it was making its 700km long journey from the coastal town of Nouadhibou to the Saharan wilderness of Zouérat . Stretching 2.5km in length, it’s one of the longest trains in the world transporting more than 200 carriages loaded with rocks.

Images were judged anonymously by Gisela Kayser, the Managing Director and Artistic Director at the Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus cultural centre in Germany. The images were chosen for their power to communicate a visual narrative with excellent technical and creative skills. International in scope and subject matter, and rich and varied in their brilliance, these photographs celebrate photography's diversity as it exists today. The Open Photographer of the Year chosen from the 10 category winners will be revealed on 9 June on our online and social platforms. The winner is awarded $5,000 (USD) to develop their passion for photography.