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Sony World Photography Awards Announce Winners and Open Competition Shortlist

- 4 years ago

The World Photography Organisation has revealed this year’s category winners and shortlist in the Open Competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020.

More than 100 photographers were shortlisted in the 2020 competition alongside ten category winners, including Alec Connah for ‘Going Down!’ in the Motion category, and Tom Oldham for a B&W portrait of Pixies frontman Black Francis, or Frank Blackin the Portraiture category.

Each winner wins the latest digital imaging equipment from Sony to help develop their vision and will go on to compete for the prestigious ‘Open Photographer of the Year’ title and a $5,000 [USD] prize pot. The overall Open winner will be announced on 9th June on the World Photography Organisation and Sony’s online platforms. 

Scroll on for our highlights from the Open Competition categories for 2020.


Alec Connah [UK] for Going Down!’, a record of the moment the four cooling towers of Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire were demolished on 6 December 2019.

© Alec Connah
© Alec Connah United Kingdom. Category Winner Open competition Motion. 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.


© Tom Oldham. Category Winner Open competition, Portraiture. 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Tom Oldham for Black Francis, a B&W portrait, originally taken for MOJO Magazine, of Pixies frontman Charles Thompson [aka Black Francis]. When approaching the assignment Oldham, an experienced portrait photographer, was painfully aware of the many photoshoots his sitter has been the subject of and asked him to acknowledge his frustration with the process. The resulting image, picturing the singer digging his hands into his face, offered the perfect gesture and ran as the lead image for the article.

Shortlist Gallery

This gallery is but a sample of some of the many photographers’ work that was shortlisted in this year’s Sony World Photography Awards. It’s diverse, inspiring and truly shows that talents of many photographers and their unique style in this wonderful art form we know as photography.

The ten category winners are:


Rosaria Sabrina Pantano [Italy] for ‘Emotional Geography’, a black & white image featuring ’38° Parallelo’, a pyramid-shaped sculpture by Mauro Staccioli which stands at the exact point where the geographical coordinates touch the 38th parallel.


Suxing Zhang [China Mainland] for ‘Knot‘, a portrait of a young woman with a collage of symbolic elements. This single black & white image is part of the series ‘Hua [meaning flower in Chinese]  which looks at flowers as metaphors of femininity.


Antoine Veling [Australia] for ‘Mark 5:28’, a photograph capturing the moment when members of the audience were invited on stage to dance at an Iggy Pop concert in the Sydney Opera House on 17 April 2019. Depicting Iggy Pop in a crowd of dancing fans, the image focuses on the singer, a woman reaching to touch him and a stage assistant struggling to keep people at bay. The scene, which was likened to a Caravaggio painting, conjures a biblical passage: Because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” [Mark 5:25-34, line 28].


Craig McGowan [Australia] for ‘Ice Reflections’, an image of a solitary iceberg, set against the fjord walls in Northeast Greenland National Park. The iceberg and surrounding landscape are perfectly mirrored in the clear waters of the river resulting in a painterly and abstract photograph.


Alec Connah [UK] for Going Down!’, a record of the moment the four cooling towers of Ironbridge Power Station in Shropshire were demolished on 6 December 2019. Pictured above.


Guofei Li [China Mainland] for ‘Tai Chi Diagram’, taken in Botswana, the picture features two cheetahs licking each other clean following a successful hunt – their position in the frame resembles the shape of a Yin and Yang symbol.


Tom Oldham [UK] for ‘Black Francis’, a black & white portrait, originally taken for MOJO Magazine, of Pixies frontman Charles Thompson [aka Black Francis] Pictured above.


Jorge Reynal [Argentina] for ‘A Plastic Ocean’, a photograph of a dead fish seemingly struggling for breath in a plastic bag. The image aims to highlight the plastic pollution crisis impacting our oceans.


Santiago Mesa [Colombia] for ‘Colombia Resiste’, the photograph documents a protester in the city of Medellin where workers and street vendors were taking part in a march when the Medellin riot squad dispersed them. This demonstration is one of many that have broken out across Latin America in recent years for reasons including the rising cost of living, inequality and lack of opportunity.


Adrian Guerin [Australia] for ‘Riding a Saharan Freight Train’, an image taken from the top of the rear carriage of the iron-ore train in Mauritania as it was making its 700km long journey from the coastal town of Nouadhibou to the Saharan wilderness of Zouérat. Stretching 2.5km in length, it’s one of the longest trains in the world transporting more than 200 carriages loaded with rocks.

Standout images from this year’s shortlist include ‘Pinball Pier’ by Stephen Tomlinson [UK, Architecture], a bird’s-eye view of Brighton Pier lit up at dusk; ‘Metamorphosis’ by Stanislav Stankovskiy [Russian Federation, Creative], a cinematic image of car lights illuminating the darkness on a foggy night; ‘Rivers’ by Or Adar [Israel, Landscape], a look from above at the network of rivers and creeks in a swamp area near Venice, Italy; That’s Nothing to Laugh About’ by Adam Stevenson [Australia, Natural World & Wildlife], a photograph of a lone kookaburra perched on a burnt tree branch surveying the damage left in the wake of one of the many devastating bushfires that gripped Australia; and ‘Mother Love’ by Ottavio Marino [Italy, Portraiture], a poignant illustration of the deep bonds that exist between a mother and her child.

This year’s Open competition was judged by Gisela Kayser, Managing Director and Artistic Director, Freundeskreis Willy-Brandt-Haus e.V., Berlin.

If you want to enter your image into the Sony World Photography Awards for 2021, then follow this link and get submitting. Hopefully, we’ll be talking about your images next time! best of luck to you all.

About the author

Read Sony World Photography Awards Announce Winners and Open Competition Shortlist

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.