World Photography Organisation Announces Sony Open Competition Winners

Antoine Veling, Mark 5:28

The World Photography Organisation has announced the category winners and shortlist in the Open competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020.

Recognising the best single images from 2019, more than 100 photographers were shortlisted in the 2020 competition alongside ten category winners. Each winner receives the latest digital imaging equipment from Sony to develop their vision and will go on to compete for the prestigious Open Photographer of the Year title and a $5,000 (USD) reward.

The overall Open winner will be announced on 9th June on the World Photography Organisation and Sony’s online platforms.

The ten category winners are:

ARCHITECTURE 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.

Rosaria Sabrina Pantano - Emotional Geometry
Rosaria Sabrina Pantano – Emotional Geometry – Copyright: © Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Italy, Winner, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

CREATIVE 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.

CULTURE 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) (seen top of page)

LANDSCAPE 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.

Craig McGowan, Ice Reflections
Craig McGowan, Ice Reflections – Copyright: © Craig McGowan, Australia, Winner, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

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

NATURAL WORLD & WILDLIFE 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.

Guofei Li, Tai Chi Diagram
Guofei Li, Tai Chi Diagram – Copyright: © Guofei Li, China, Winner, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

PORTRAITURE Tom Oldham (UK) for Black Francis, a black & white 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.

STILL LIFE 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.

Jorge Reynal - Plastic Ocean
Jorge Reynal – Plastic Ocean Copyright: © Jorge Reynal, Argentina, Winner, Open, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY 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.

TRAVEL 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.

Adrian Guerin - Riding a Saharan Freight Train
Adrian Guerin – Riding a Saharan Freight Train Copyright: © Adrian Guerin, Australia, Winner, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

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. Winning and shortlisted images will be celebrated across the World Photography Organisation’s online channels and platforms using dedicated content including videos, presentations and Q&As.

This follows the cancellation of the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 exhibition due to the current coronavirus pandemic. In response to recent events, the World Photography Organisation has also launched the Stay Connected page, featuring a varied programme of online initiatives, activities and resources which aims to support and inspire audiences and photographers recognised at this year’s Awards.

See also: Winners of Sony World Photography Awards Announced


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