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Judges' insight: Rebecca McClelland on the 2019 Open competition

By Anna Bonita Evans | 4 months ago

“While judging this award I noticed two distinct characteristics from all the submissions: that of the highest standard of production and complex level of storytelling present in each entry. The Open competition celebrates the power of the single image unlike any other award, which is exciting and refreshing."
Rebecca McClelland - Chair, 2019 Open competition 

Imagery is our universal language and a single photograph has the power to inform, provoke and alter perceptions. The Sony World Photography Awards honours the single image in the Open competition, where photographers – both established and emerging from a vast range of backgrounds – are asked to submit a photograph into one of the ten thematic categories. The resulting images are rich and varied, celebrating the democratic nature of photography as it exists today. The Open Photographer of the Year not only receives $5,000 (USD) but ongoing support and global exposure from the World Photography Organisation.

Hear Rebecca McClelland give her thoughts about judging this year’s Open competition.

This year's Open Photographer of the Year is Christy Lee Rogers, a visual artist from Kailua, Hawaii, currently based in Nashville, Tennessee Her obsession with water as a medium for breaking the conventions of contemporary photography has led to her work being compared to Baroque painting masters like Caravaggio. Boisterous in color and complexity, Rogers applies her cunning technique to a barrage of bodies submerged in water during the night, and creates her effects using the refraction of light. Through a fragile process of experimentation, she builds elaborate scenes of coalesced colors and entangled bodies that exalt the human character as one of vigor and warmth, while also capturing the beauty and vulnerability of the tragic experience that is the human condition. Rogers’ works have been exhibited and published globally and are held in private and public collections throughout the world.  

Harmony is an image from the artist’s Muses series that was inspired by the beauty and vulnerability of humankind. In this image Rogers has used the contrasts of light, dark, colour, movement and cascading underwater bodies to create an ethereal scene reminiscent of Baroque painting. 

“It's an honor to be recognized as a photographer, as for so many years most people referred to me as a painter or something unknown. And I'm so grateful to be a part of the photography community and to win this beautiful award!”
- Christy Lee Rogers, Open Photographer of the Year

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