The Sony World Photography Awards has four competitions
- Professional - 10 categories, judged on a body of work
- Open - 10 categories, rewarding the most outstanding images
National Awards - Entries submitted to this competition are automatically entered into the National Awards based on nationality
- Youth - for all photographers aged 12-19, a single image responding to one brief
- Student Focus - for those studying photography
*Please note: All competitions for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards are now closed. The 2019 Awards will open June 1, 2018.
The 2018 announcement dates are as follows:
Open competition category winners & National Award winners: 20 March, 2018
Professional competition winners and finalists: 19 April, 2018
Student Focus winner: 19 April, 2018
Open Photographer of the Year: 19 April, 2018
Professional Photographer of the Year: 19 April, 2018
The Sony World Photography Awards is one of the most celebrated and diverse photography competitions in the world. Now in its 12th year, our goal is to showcase the best contemporary photography worldwide.
The Awards are free to enter and open to all levels of photographer, from emerging 12-19-year-olds, enthusiastic hobbyists, and students, to established professionals. There is a competition and a category for everyone, from Architecture, Documentary, Landscape, Portraiture, Sports, Street Photography, Wildlife, Travel, Culture, and more.
All images are judged by leading industry experts, who come together each year in London to decide the best images. A total prize fund of $30,000 (USD) plus the latest Sony digital imaging equipment is shared between winning photographers.
With the power to kick-start and shape careers, photographers are provided with an unprecedented stage to showcase their work, powered by a series of tailored global press and media campaigns. Previous winners and shortlisted photographers have gone on to be represented by renowned galleries and institutions, and their work has been featured in major publications around the world.
Equally, each year we recognise one of the world’s most influential photographers through the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award; previous recipients have included Martin Parr, William Eggleston and Candida Höfer.
The objective of the Sony World Photography Awards is to establish a platform for the continuous development of photographic culture. The Awards do this by recognizing great contributions to photography in the past through the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize as well as finding new talents of the future and providing them with the opportunity to be promoted and exhibited around the world. This is achieved through the Awards programme and by integrating a Student and Youth competition as well as Student and Professional Sony Grants. The latter further prove Sony’s commitment to photographic culture by extending their relationship with individual winners beyond the Awards themselves and helping develop their careers. The Grants of 7,000 USD and 3,500 USD each is awarded to 4 professional and 3 student recipients respectively so they can continue developing their projects.
Each Spring, the hugely popular Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition, featuring the spectacular winning, shortlisted and commended images, is curated at the famous London landmark, Somerset House. Attracting around 30,000 visitors each year, featuring over 600 images and taking up both East and West wings of this magnificent building, the exhibition is a must-see event in London’s cultural calendar.
Exposure and Benefits
Global exposure is given to not only to the overall winners, but also to shortlisted and commended photographers.
Recognised photographers can receive:
- Exhibition at Somerset House, London
- Potential to be included in international exhibitions
- Inclusion in the annual Sony World Photography Awards book
- Potential to work with Sony and other partners on a variety of projects
The World Photography Organisation has a thriving online presence and engages with photography enthusiasts and professionals worldwide via its:
- Social platforms
- International partnerships
- Offline events
A number of photographers connected to the awards are used across some of these platforms throughout the year – from a featured week on Instagram, to a showcase interview seen by millions, or the photographer’s latest show/news announced via our social platforms.
The annual PR campaign for the awards' permeates all types of media and generates huge interest not only in the awards’ winners, but for those on the shortlist too. In 2016 the media campaign had a potential reach of 14,75 billion people. Coverage could be seen everywhere from the world’s highest circulation newspapers and most read websites to spreads in luxury magazines and key photographic trade titles.
The awards have the power to change the lives of those who enter them. Here are a few of the stories from those:
Although already an established photographer in Norway, winning the 2013 L’Iris d’Or, Photographer of the Year title, propelled Andrea Gjestvang onto the global stage.
Her stunning series of portraits of the children and youths who survived the July 2011 massacre on the island of Utøya, outside Oslo, “One Day in History”, were published around the world and, despite being a mum to a very young baby at the time of the win, has barely stopped working since.
Andrea says: “Winning the L'Iris d'Or/ Photographer of the Year 2013 was a great recognition and it made my work reach out to a worldwide audience. Both editors, collectors, potential collaborators in the business, but most important the normal readers that were moved and engaged by the images. It opened up new opportunities for me, and was a huge motivation to continue following the stories that I believe in.”
Natalia was a student at the Faculty of Graphic Arts, Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow when she entered the Student Focus competition in 2013. An aspiring photographer with a strong artistic style, her series of work caught the judges’ attention and she was named the 2013 Student Photographer of the Year.
Since winning, Natalia has had her work shown in many of the world’s leading photography magazines and has delivered masterclass on behalf of Sony.
One of the awards’ most prolific winners, German photographer Peter Franck has won professional categories in both 2010 and 2012 and received placements in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2015. His unique style explores the border between painting and photography and has captured the imagination of the awards’ judges over the last eight years.
He comments: “The multiple wins at the awards has made, with certainty, me better known in the photographic and artistic circles. Plus it has helped with future projects to refer to past exhibitions around the world which my images have been shown in.The selection of the jury members and the entire organisation of the competition is very convincing. The exhibition which accompanied the awards is a great thing and the public relations for the competition also has a very big role.“
Spanish photographer Daniel Duart won 2nd prize in the Professional Travel category of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.
Since then, Daniel has worked with Sony Europe to promote the Sony RX1 camera, travelled around Latin America with Sony delivering workshops and masterclasses on travel photography.
Speaking about his involvement with the awards Daniel says: “"Being part of the SWPA made my work visible in half Latin America, they helped me spread the word (or the images) all around the world and I was even on TV!"