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Sony World Photography Awards 2018 Launches with New Categories and Grant Opportunities

- 7 years ago

The 11th edition of the Sony World Photography Awards is marked by the introduction of two challenging new categories in the Professional competition, ‘Creative’ and ‘Discovery’, and an important new opportunity for award-winners to secure a grant to fund future photographic projects

Created by the World Photography Organisation, the Sony World Photography Awards are an authoritative voice in the industry and the world’s biggest photography competition. Celebrating the finest contemporary photography from the past year, the Awards offer vast exposure, visibility and opportunity to photographers worldwide on an annual basis.

Image: Yum
Photographer: Stacy Anguiano Cain. 2017: I set up a last minute photo shoot in my small apartment while dog-sitting my sister’s Italian Greyhound, Maximus. He wouldn’t sit still so I bribed him with treats and captured this shot of him chewing.
Copyright: © Stacy Anguiano Cain, United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Changing medium of photography prompts new Professional Categories

The Sony World Photography Awards are back for 2018 and in recognition of the changing use of photography, two new categories have been added to the 2018 Awards’ Professional competition

The new ‘Creative’ and ‘Discovery’ categories are both designed to embrace photographers working at the cutting-edge of the medium.  Judges will specifically look to reward originality, experimentation and imagination in these categories and hope to discover what that would otherwise be unseen by the Awards.  Artistic interpretation, integrity and technical ability are the key factors for judges across all categories of the Awards.

Commenting on the Awards’ impact, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards winner Frederik Buyckx told Photobite“Being named Photographer of the Year has given me more exposure than I could ever have imagined.  It has opened lots of new doors but, just as an importantly, the award has also encouraged me to keep on working on my personal projects.”

The Sony World Photography Awards comprise of four competitions:

  • Professional – 10 categories judged upon a body of work (5-10 images)
  • Open – best single images across 10 categories
  • Youth – young photographers aged 12-19 responding to a brief with a single image
  • Student Focus – for those studying photography

For the full list of competition categories and descriptions please go to

Image: Gasing Up At Roy’s
Photographer: Ralph Gräf
Year: 2017: The photo was taken at Roy’s gas station and motel in Amboy, California. This almost abandoned village is located at the Historic Route 66, far away from any other service station and major road. The photo is part of an exhibition project on roadside attractions in the southwestern USA. With my color processing I have tried to capture the enormous August heat and atmosphere in Southern California.
Copyright: © Ralph Gräf, Germany, 1st Place, Open, Travel, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

New Sony Grant to fund photographic projects

In demonstration of the Awards’ commitment to create opportunities for its photographers, a new grant programme those participating in the Professional and Student Focus competitions has been introduced this year.

From the winners of the 2018 Professional categories, Sony will award multiple grants of $7,000 to selected photographers to pursue photographic projects of their choice.

In addition, shortlisted photographers from the Student Focus competition will each be given $3,500 [USD] to work together on a new photographic commission set by Sony and the World Photography Organisation.

Image: Dancer
Photographer: Olga Sinenko
Year: 2017: Image was taken in Bali island, Indonesia. I was swimming out with my camera inside a watercase, taking shots of surfers. This guy is a local surfer, inspires with his graceful and beautiful style. I was lucky to capture this precise moment, when he’s kind of dancing on a wave.
Copyright: © Olga Sinenko, Russian Federation, Shortlist, Open, Motion, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

The Sony Grant programme has been formalised for the 2018 Awards following a successful pilot with three 2016 Sony World Photography Awards Professional category winners: Amélie Labourdette, Maroesjka Lavigne and Nikola Linares.  The inaugural Sony grants supported diverse projects including the documentation of young bullfighters in Spain [Linares], landscapes of Iceland and Namibia [Lavigne] and the impact of man on the Tunisian desert [Labourdette].

Image: Youth of the UK
Photographer: Toby Binder
Year: 2017
Description: Edinburgh, young boys smoking cigarettes.
Copyright: © Toby Binder, Germany, Shortlist, Professional, Daily Life, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Prizes: Worldwide exposure, exhibitions and digital imaging equipment

All category winners of the Professional, Open, Youth and Student Focus competitions will receive digital imaging equipment from Sony.

In addition, cash prizes of $25,000 [USD] will be presented to the Photographer of the Year and $5,000 [USD] to the overall Open competition winner.

All category winners plus many of the shortlisted Awards photographers will be exhibited at the annual Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition in London and then toured internationally.  The images will also be published in the annual Awards winners’ book and all shortlisted and winning photographers are given global exposure via dedicated marketing and press campaigns.

Image: Pillowfight
Photographer: Asger Ladefoged
Year: 2017
Description: There is only one rule at Carl-Mar Møllers place: No shoes inside. So nobody interfered with the pillowfight in the dormitory. Everything was in play and all involved left the fight exhausted and smiling.
Copyright: © Asger Ladefoged, Denmark, Shortlist, Professional, Daily Life, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

2018 Key dates

  • December 4, 2017 – Student Focus closes
  • January 4, 2018 – Open & Youth competitions close
  • January 1, 2018 – Professional competitions close
  • February 27, 2018 –Shortlist announced
  • March 27, 2018 – Open and National Awards winners revealed
  • April 19, 2018 – Photographer of the Year & Professional category winners announced

The 2018 Sony World Photography Awards, one of the world’s leading photography competitions, and is now open for entries.  Submissions are free at

About the author

Read Sony World Photography Awards 2018 Launches with New Categories and Grant Opportunities

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.