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Outstanding Contribution to Photography

Rewarding lifetime achievement and excellence in the field of photography. 

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award is given each year by the Sony World Photography Awards in recognition of a photographer’s significant influence on the photographic indust

A specially curated selection of work by each year's recipient is included in the annual Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London. 



Scroll down to see the recipients by year:


2018: Candida Höfer


"I feel very honored. I hope this will help to continue to break down barriers between Photography and Art in public perception."  - Candida Höfer


(Born, 1944) 

German artist Candida Höfer is one of the world’s foremost contemporary photographers. Renowned for her precise methodology and technique, Höfer’s internationally recognized work often takes the form of large-format color photography. Her powerful portraits of vast, empty interiors are part of major collections around the world and are exhibited in leading international museums.  

In celebration of her award, Candida has personally selected works from across her career to be shown as part of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London. The exhibition will include three of her most notable large-scale pieces: Musée du Louvre Paris XXI 2005; Hermitage St. Petersburg VIII 2014 and Trinity College Library Dublin I 2004. These are on loan from Ben Brown Fine Arts, London.

2017: Martin Parr

(Born 23 May 1952)

Martin Parr is one of the best-known documentary photographers of his generation, with over 90 books of his own published, and another 30 edited by Parr.

Parr also acts as a curator and editor. He has curated two photography festivals, Arles in 2004 and Brighton Biennial in 2010. More recently Parr curated the Barbican exhibition, Strange and Familiar.

Parr has been a member of the Magnum agency since 1994. In 2013 Parr was appointed the visiting professor of photography at the University of Ulster.

Parr’s work has been collected by many of the major museums, from the Tate, the Pompidou and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

2016: Rong Rong & inri

(Born, 1968 and 1973) 

RongRong (China) and inri (Japan) have been working together since 2000. Their works reflect the intimate world that they have created together, while pushing the boundaries of traditional black-and-white darkroom techniques. Their past critically acclaimed series of works, such as Mt. Fuji, in Nature, Liulitun, and Tsumari Story focus on the beauty of the human body in nature and the urban environment. Their recent work brings attention to the beauty and value of new beginnings in their shared life and surroundings, especially amidst a rapidly changing world.

2015: Elliott Erwitt

(Born July 26, 1928)

Elliott Erwitt is an American advertising and documentary photographer known for his black and white candid shots of ironic and absurd situations within everyday settings— a master of Henri Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment".


2014: Mary Ellen Mark

(Born March 20, 1940 – May 25, 2015)

Mary Ellen Mark was an American photographer known for her photojournalism / documentary photography, portraiture, and advertising photography. She photographed people who were "away from mainstream society and toward its more interesting, often troubled fringes".

2013: William Eggleston

(Born July 27, 1939)

Considered the pioneer of color photography and the personal documentary style, William Eggleston first picked up a camera in 1957 and has been producing cutting-edge work for over fifty years since. His landmark 1976 show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York thrust color photography from the field of advertising into an art form of its own right. In reference to his career-crowning achievement, Eggleston said, "The world is in color. To paraphrase my friend John Szarkowski, my attempt has been to see simultaneously, both the blue and the sky as one thing."

2012: William Klein

(Born April 19, 1928)

William Klein is an American-born French photographer and filmmaker noted for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography.


2011: Bruce Davidson

(Born September 5, 1933)

Bruce Davidson is an American photographer. He has been a member of the Magnum Photos agency since 1958. His photographs, notably those taken in Harlem, New York City, have been widely exhibited and published.

2010: Eve Arnold

(Born April 21, 1912 – January 4, 2012)

Eve Arnold, OBE, Hon. FRPS was an American photojournalist. She joined Magnum Photos agency in 1951, and became a full member in 1957.

2009: Marc Riboud

(Born 24 June 1923 – 30 August 2016)

Marc Riboud was a French photographer, best known for his extensive reports on the Far East: The Three Banners of China, Face of North Vietnam, Visions of China, and In China.

2008: Phil Stern

(Born September 3, 1919 – December 13, 2014)

Philip "Snapdragon" Stern was an American photographer noted for his iconic portraits of Hollywood stars, as well as his war photography while serving as a U.S. Army Ranger in the "Darby's Rangers" unit in the North African and Italian campaigns during World War II.


Dazzling Winners (Exhibition)