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Our Initiatives

In its 14 year history the World Photography Organisation (WPO) has run a range of exciting initiatives, including those you see below. Designed to give more opportunities to established and emerging photographers, each initiative was put together to drive the medium forward and celebrate those creating intelligent, compelling, boundary pushing work.

Stay Connected

Stay Connected was our digital curated programme to keep our community creating, talking and sharing during 2020. First set up in response to the challenges photographers faced in the COVID-19 pandemic, the iniative was centered around keeping in touch and staying inspired. From practical tips to online portfolio reviews to conducting live interviews with some of the best photographers working today, we kept our community busy with our regular articles, videos and live sessions. 


© KyeongJun Yang

Zeiss Photography Award

From 2016 to 2020 the WPO partnered with ZEISS lenses to create the ZEISS Photography Award. Supplying photographers with an open brief to interpret, the competition looked for those sharing the world’s most intriguing stories through an engaging set of imagery. 

Discover more about the award here.


The Swap Project

An initiative run by creativehub and WPO in 2019, The Swap Project invited the global photography community to swap their best prints with one another. Out of 2,700 image uploads and 1,200 swap requests, the ten winning images were on show in a free exhibition alongside the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London, from April 18 to May 6, 2019. 

Discover more about the project here.




Photomonth is a three-month festival that celebrates photography galleries and venues across East London. Alongside an Open Call for exhibitions, portfolio reviews and talks, Photomonth became one of the largest festivals in the UK. The festival’s aim to demonstrate the diversity and inclusivity of contemporary photography aligned with the WPO’s ethos. Partnering in 2019, the two initiatives put together a lively panel discussion about a woman’s place in photography at theprintspace with 2018 Sony World Photography Awards' Photographer of the Year, Alys Tomlinson, photographer Carol Allen-Storey, Photomonth festival director Maggie Pinhorn and independent curator Zelda Cheatle.



London Photographic panel talk 

Working with the photography workshop and meet-up provider London Photographic, in 2019 we held an evening two hour talk giving insight on how to exceed in photography competitions. Joining WPO was Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition judging Chair Mike Trow and Student competition judge Tim Clark. 



The Photography Show, Birmingham 

In 2018 and 2019 we travelled to Birmingham to be a part of one of the biggest UK events in the photographic calendar. In 2019 we chaired a talk with a panel of photographers to hear their experiences of building their careers alongside tips on how to extend your network and develop your portfolio. 

Photographers who joined us in 2019 were Alys Tomlinson (2018 Sony World Photography Awards’ Photographer of the Year), Richard Ansett (shortlisted photographer in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards), Tom Oldham (2018 Sony World Photography Awards’ winner) and Tracy Lund (2019 shortlisted photographer in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards).


Chengdu Anren Museum launch

In 2018 we co-organised an exclusive exhibition of Arnold Newman’s most well-known works at the Mirroring Anren Thoughts & Culture Art Centre in Anren ancient town, Chengdu, to coincide with the art centre’s opening. Curated by William Ewing, Newman’s prints were shown for the first time in China. This was marked with a VIP dinner and networking event


Reform and Dreams exhibition 

Commissioned by the China International Culture & Image Communication Corporation and created by the WPO in 2018, the Reform and Dreams exhibition featured 80 photographs taken over the last 40 years by photographers of the Xinhua News Agency,  China’s biggest and most influential media organisation. Marking 40 years since China’s Reform and Opening Up, the display hoped to give insight into the everyday lives of Chinese people and their cultural history.


Dubai Photo Exhibition

For the inaugural edition in 2016, Dubai Photo Exhibition presented a showcase of photography from across the world. Supported by the WPO, the four day festival was held in Dubai Design District (d3) and comprised a series of public lectures, workshops and a thought-provoking symposium led by international curators. Coinciding with the Dubai Photo Exhibition was a display curated by Zelda Cheatle and 18 curators, who each selected work by 129 photographers from 23 different countries. Each image encapsulated the essence of the country it depicted



Mobile Phone Award

As part of the 2015 edition of the Sony World Photography Awards, the WPO initiated the Mobile Phone Award. Recognising the ever-growing sophistication of camera phone technology, the award’s theme was ‘You get out of life what you put in.’ Entrants were asked to push past the obvious and to see the inspiration around them.

View gallery here.



Hotel Indigo project

We collaborated with Hotel Indigo in 2014 to create a photo contest rewarding images by students that encapsulated the theme Flavours of the Neighbourhood. The winning and finalist images then toured in an exhibition to eight cities across the UK. The winner was also commissioned by Hotel Indigo to shoot as an official photographer for the hotel chain. After the success of the initiative in the UK, Hotel Indigo collaborated with us further and extended the competition to young photographers from across Europe, plus a series of smartphone photography masterclasses and a photo competition based around the theme of Sights of the Neighbourhood. The finalist images were exhibited in hotels internationally and the winner was offered an artist-in-residence.


Student Focus Educational Symposium, Photokina 

As part of promoting the Sony World Photography Awards Student competition, the aim of this symposium in 2012 was to start a global dialogue on teaching practice within photography. Nineteen professors from 19 institutions across Europe joined author Tom Ang to discuss what the key issues in photography education were. The discussion was moderated by Virginia Morrison, Executive Director of the US based Society for Photography Education. The key points were collated and distributed to the professors and tutors at more than 200 universities and institutions engaging with the Sony World Photography Awards Student competition.



In collaboration with the WPO and Sony’s Global Imaging Ambassadors, Panos Pictures created #FutureofCities, a documentary photography project that looks at some of the problems, solutions and trends shaping cities globally. During a nine-month period, selected photographers shot 20 unique stories exploring how cities are evolving and managing large-scale migrations from suburban and rural areas into inner-city environments. #FutureofCities had a website, social media campaign and touring exhibition. The final project was published in Newsweek and GEO France.


Youth on Assignment

Created by WPO and Sony, Youth on Assignment (YOA) was a year-long initiative to create educational opportunities for students and pupils worldwide to use their skills as photographers and videographers to tell their stories relating to social issues, local events and projects. We teamed up with three schools to document this project throughout the year: Tshwane University of Technology, Rhodes University and Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography.




In 2009 together with UNICEF and supported by Sony, WPO launched a competition to raise awareness about children's rights. Open to professionals and amateurs, photographers could submit one photo, with a written pledge, that interprets or conveys one of the five children's rights. World-renowned photographers including Mary Ellen Mark and Bruce Davidson took part, alongside celebrity UNICEF Ambassadors including David Beckham and Ewan McGregor.

All photo-pledges formed a special online exhibition showcased on WPO’s website. Selected images were exhibited alongside the UNICEF Ambassadors’ images and those taken by World Photography Academy Members at the annual Sony World Photography Awards Festival in Cannes, April 2010. The images then went on a global tour. The initiative created the Youth Award and six winning young photographers, one from each continent, joined the UNICEF mission in Ethiopia.



The Prince’s Rainforests Project 

In 2008 WPO partnered with The Prince’s Rainforests Project (PRP), a programme established by HRH the Prince of Wales. The programme focused on finding a professional, environmental photographer who would be sent out to Indonesia, the Amazon and the Congo to capture the effects of deforestation. 

The images were published in a book which was given to world leaders by HRH the Prince of Wales ahead of the UN conference for climate change that year. 

Judges included model and photographer Helena Christensen; adventurer David de Rothschild; President of Magnum Photos Stuart Franklin;Friends of the Earth Co-founder Roberto Smeraldi; Executive Director of Greenpeace John Suaven; and Senior Editor of National Geographic Kathy Moran.

Winner Daniel Beltra set out on the challenging assignment to photograph three major rainforests regions in three months.

View gallery here