Connect with us
© Brent Stirton, South Africa, 3rd Place, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2022

Arts and Entertainment

Two from SA in World Photography Awards

Local photographers Gideon Mendel and Brent Stirton featured in the Environment and Portraiture categories of Sony’s annual honours

Australian photographer Adam Ferguson has won the Photographer of the Year title and $25,000 cash prize in the Sony World Photography Awards 2022. 

Announced by the World Photography Organisation, the awards included 10 category winners, alongside 2nd and 3rd places in the Professional competition, as well as overall winners of the Open, Student and Youth competitions. South Africans Gideon Mendel and Brent Stirton took 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the Environment and Portraiture categories.

A Vietnamese photographer won the Youth Photographer of the Year 2022 award.

An awards exhibition running at Somerset House, London, until  2 May 2022, features over 300 prints and hundreds of additional images in digital displays from winning and shortlisted photographers. Also presented are works by this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography, the renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.

Sony provided the following information:

Photographer of the Year

Migrantes is a series of black and white self-portraits of migrants in Mexico, taken as they waited to cross the border into the United States. Photographed in collaboration with the subjects, Ferguson set-up the scene for each image, mounting a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the individuals to choose the moment of capture and participate in the process of documenting their lives.

In February 2021, after a change of presidential administrations in the US, migrants from Central and South America surged on the US-Mexican border. Photographs of fraught migrants carrying their belongings, clinging to loved ones and caught in the flashes of photographers’ strobes were circulating in the media. While Ferguson noted the importance of this photojournalism, he noticed a distinct lack of photography from the Mexican side of the border, especially images that gave the migrants any measure of agency. 

With this in mind, Ferguson pitched the project to his editor at the New York Times and secured the commission to travel to Juarez and Reynosa for 11 days over April and May, 2021. His approach to the project was inspired by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s Ghetto – a visual journey through 12 modern ghettos including the Rene Vallejo Psychiatric Hospital in Cuba in which the former artist duo gave patients control over the release shutter.

Accompanied by Mexican journalists Ernesto Rodríguez, Silvia Cruz, Noe Gea Medina and Laura Monica Cruz Flores, Ferguson approached migrants staying in shelters near the border, recording their often harrowing stories and working with them to stage and capture the image in a relaxed space where they would feel less self-conscious. He chose black and white film as a way of cancelling the chaotic medley of background colours and stripping the image down to its emotional value. The resulting series presents a poignant portrait of people suspended in time while in search of a more prosperous life.

Commenting on Ferguson’s winning project, Mike Trow, Chair of the 2021 Professional competition says: ‘What Adam Ferguson has done on the US / Mexico border with migrant families and individuals is deeply compassionate and moving. This set of portraits speaks volumes about how moral intentionality and respect can help avoid some of that sense of manipulation and invasion of the private which photography is often accused of. By giving his subjects the shutter release Adam hands a certain power to the sitter to make that decision on how to be perceived. These photographs are beautiful, meaningful and kind. There were other stories that we as a jury admired deeply but Adam’s series stood out because it speaks so eloquently and warmly of people under hardship but who hold on to their decency and love regardless of place and wealth.’

Commenting on his win Ferguson says: Through collaborating with migrants, this series of photographs was an attempt to make images that inspired empathy, rather than sympathy. By surrendering the control of capture and giving each migrant agency in the process of their representation, I hoped to subvert the narrative of marginalization and create a story that felt more human, relatable and honest. I’m grateful to the brave and resilient individuals who agreed to work with me, and receive this award on behalf of them also. Winning the Photographer of the Year award gives this story another life. It allows a new audience to connect with the important stories of the individuals who shared their story with me.

Professional Category Winners

Winning photographers in the Professional competition have been selected by a panel of expert judges for submitting an outstanding body of work of five to ten images, ranging from stories of political and climate crises, to personal meditations on family and loss, and creative approaches to still life and nature photography.

All category winners receive Sony’s digital imaging kit. This year’s winners are:

Architecture and Design

Winner: Domagoj Burilović (Croatia) for his series Dorf

Finalists: 2nd place Javier Arcenillas (Spain); 3rd place Yun Chi Chen (Taiwan)


Winner: Alnis Stakle (Latvia) for his series Mellow Apocalypse 

Finalists: 2nd place Raphael Neal (United Kingdom); 3rd place Sarah Grethe (Germany)

Documentary Projects

Winner: Jan Grarup (Denmark) for his series The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela

Finalists: 2nd place Fabian Ritter (Germany); 3rd place Win McNamee (United States)


Winner: Shunta Kimura (Japan) for his series Living in the Transition

Finalists: 2nd place Gideon Mendel (South Africa); 3rd place Giacomo d’Orlando (Italy)


Winner: Lorenzo Poli (Italy) for his series Life on Earth 

Finalists: 2nd place Andrius Repšys (Lithuania); 3rd place Gareth Iwan Jones (United Kingdom)


Winner: Hugh Fox (United Kingdom) for his submission Portfolio   

Finalists: 2nd place Julian Anderson (United Kingdom); 3rd place Anna Neubauer (Austria)


Winner: Adam Ferguson (Australia) for his series Migrantes  

Finalists: 2nd place George Tatakis (Greece); 3rd place Brent Stirton (South Africa)


Winner: Ricardo Teles (Brazil) for his series Kuarup

Finalists: 2nd place Adam Petty (Australia); 3rd place Roman Vondrouš (Czech Republic)

Still Life

Winner: Haruna Ogata (Japan) & Jean-Etienne Portail (France) for their series Constellation

Finalists: 2nd place Cletus Nelson Nwadike (Sweden); 3rd place Alessandro Gandolfi (Italy)

Wildlife & Nature

Winner: Milan Radisics (Hungary) for his series The Fox’s Tale

Finalists: 2nd place Federico Borella (Italy); 3rd place Oana Baković (Romania)

Open Photographer of the Year

The Open competition celebrates the power of single images. Winning photographs are selected for their ability to communicate a remarkable visual narrative combined with technical excellence. Chosen from ten Open category winners, Scott Wilson (United Kingdom) is Open Photographer of the Year 2022 and the recipient of the $5,000 (USD) cash prize, Sony’s digital imaging equipment and global exposure.

Wilson won for his powerful photograph Anger Management entered in the Natural World & Wildlife category. The black and white image depicts a dirt-caked wild mustang kicking up a dust storm in northwestern Colorado. The picture was taken shortly after the stallion plunged himself into a mud pool – protection from summer bugs – and while pounding the ground to let competing males know he was ready to fight for his spot at a nearby watering hole.

Speaking of his win Wilson says: ‘It’s an absolute honour to see Anger Management win Open Photographer of the Year 2022in the Sony World Photography Awards. Viewing mustang behaviour in the wild is a raw and dynamic wildlife experience.  The image tension is symbolic of the conservation challenges facing wild horses in the American West, where these treasured animals are being rounded up in record numbers and removed from public lands. By the end of 2022, there will be more wild horses in captivity than running free.’

Student Photographer of the Year

Ezra Bohm (Netherlands) of the Nederlandse Acedemie voor Beeldcreatie has been awarded Student Photographer of the Year 2022, winning €30,000 worth of Sony photography equipment for his institution. Bohm was chosen for his series The Identity of Holland, created in response to the brief Connections which challenged students to present a story that highlights how they, or someone they have documented, interact with the world. For his winning series, Bohm photographed the residents of close-knit communities in the Netherlands who maintain a traditional way of life, highlighting their extraordinarily detailed customary dress and their connection to Dutch cultural history.

Commenting on his win Bohm says: “Winning this prize confirms to me the importance of photographing the unexpected, to tell stories that come from my heart and soul. By following your ambition, everything you do becomes more meaningful, and probably also more successful.”

Youth Photographer of the Year

Selected from six category winners, Tri Nguyen (Vietnam, 18 years-old) has won Youth Photographer of the Year 2022 for his image Under The Moonlight. The photograph depicts a young man basking in artificial moonlight standing against a derelict background. The moonlight symbolises a spotlight shining on the young man, and his longing to accept his flaws. The photo is part of a series that investigates self-reflection and a yearning to break the mould and celebrate one’s imperfections. 

For his win, Nguyen receives Sony’s digital imaging kit and global exposure. Commenting on his win Nguyen says: “As a budding and motivated artist, I am extremely excited and proud to have been chosen as the Youth Photographer of the Year 2022. I humbly accept this Award and will use this momentum to further my photography.”

Outstanding Contribution to Photography

This year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography has been awarded to the renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished contemporary photographers, Burtynsky is best known for his sweeping images of industrial landscapes and the wider environmental crisis. In striking depictions of vast human-altered landscapes Burtynsky lays bare the awesome scale of infrastructure and destruction; presenting vistas of scarred mountain ranges, desiccated bodies of water, and sprawling urbanism distilled into painterly abstractions of colour and form.

Over a dozen large-scale photographs are presented as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition. The selection, made by the artist, highlights key bodies of work over his 40-year career. These include Anthropocene (2018), Salt Pans (2016), Water (2013), Oil (2009) and Railcuts (1985). Additionally, presented in the UK for the first time will be images from Burtynsky’s forthcoming series Africa (2022), a look at the African landscape and areas transformed by resource extraction.

Sony World Photography Awards 2022 Exhibition

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition opens at Somerset House, London from 13 April – 2 May 2022. In addition to the work of this year’s overall and category winners the exhibition features solo presentations by the 2020 Photographer of the Year winner Pablo Albarenga (Uruguay), and 2021 winner Craig Easton (United Kingdom).

Albarenga presents a selection of images from his winning series Seeds of Resistance, a body of work that pairs photographs of landscapes and territories in danger from mining and agribusinesses with portraits of the activists fighting to conserve them. Easton exhibits a dozen black and white portraits from his series Bank Top, depicting residents of the tight-knit neighbourhood of Bank Top in Blackburn. The project examines the representation and misrepresentation of communities in northern England, exploring the stories and experiences of local inhabitants through images and accompanying texts by project collaborator, writer and academic, Abdul Aziz Hafiz.

The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 virtual exhibition is available to view via:

Subscribe to our free newsletter
To Top