Spectacular Winning Images of The Sony World Photography Awards 2023
A ruined cement factory, a sunken car, the brave women of DRC and a posse of urban raccoons … all these and many more feature in this year’s list of overall professional category winners.
Our War: Edgar Martins, Portugal (Photographer of the Year and first place in Professional Competition, Portraiture)
Martins says: ‘In 2011, my friend the photojournalist Anton Hammerl travelled to Libya to cover the conflict between pro-regime and anti-Gaddafi forces. On 5 April he was abducted and killed by government militia. Frustrated by the lack of progress in the investigation to find his mortal remains, in 2022 I travelled to Libya. This previously unseen body of work is structured as a portrait of Anton through the people he photographed and met, and others involved in the conflict.’
Untitled, from the series Illuminance, 2009: Rinko Kawauchi, Japan (Outstanding Contribution to Photography)
One of the most important Japanese photographers working today, Kawauchi has achieved international renown for her intimate and luminous images, capturing ephemeral moments of everyday life.
Cement Factory: Fan Li, China, (first place, Architecture and Design)
Tieshan cement factory is located in Guilin City in south China. The factory was built in 1996 and played an important role in Guilin’s economic development and urban construction. However, because it was originally located in the Li River Scenic Area of Guilin, the factory has now been relocated, leaving behind the old buildings, water towers, pools and railway tracks.
Lupus Hominarius: Noemi Comi, Italy, (second place, Creative)
Lupus Hominarius refers to the legends of Calabria, Italy, surrounding the figure of the werewolf. According to folklore, you could become a werewolf as a result of a curse or through infections, bites or pacts with the devil. The legend shared by many towns in Calabria relates to the ‘first wedding night’, in which the bride dies at the hands of her werewolf husband while the two are consummating their marriage. Very often, such tales were created to prevent women from going out alone in the village, especially at night.
The Women’s Peace Movement in Congo: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham, UK (first place, Documentary Projects)
Nearly 20 years on from a conflict that killed five million people, the Democratic Republic of Congo is once again sliding into chaos. As renewed conflict with the M23 rebels caught the world’s attention this year, the vital contribution of women to peace remains invisible. Despite escalating violence, some women track human rights violations, warn of impending violence and plead with rebel leaders to stop attacks. In doing so, they take immense risks.
Cities Gone Wild: Corey Arnold, US (first place, Wildlife and Nature)
Cities Gone Wild is an exploration of three savvy animals – black bears, coyotes and raccoons – that have uniquely equipped themselves to survive and even thrive in the human-built landscape while other animals are disappearing. Arnold tracked these animals in cities across the US to reveal a more intimate view of how wildlife is adapting to increased urbanisation.
Egungun Voodoo Society, Benin: Jean-Claude Moschetti, France (third place, Portraiture)
The Egungun is a secret voodoo society that honours ancestral spirits. These spirits are believed to be in constant watch over their living relatives; they bless, protect and warn them, but can also punish them if they neglect them. The spirits can also protect a community against epidemics, witchcraft and evildoers, and may even be invited to come to earth physically. When they do, the Egungun are the receptacles of these spirits, appearing in the streets leaping, dancing and uttering loud cries.
Loss and Damage: Fabio Bucciarelli, Italy (3rd Place, professional competition, Landscape)
South Sudan has been plagued by political violence and instability since becoming independent in 2011. Now it is experiencing massive floods for the fourth consecutive year. Since 2019, unprecedented rainy seasons have submerged large parts of the country. Heavy rains and floods have swept away homes, crops, livestock, schools and healthcare centres, and caused extensive damage to roads and bridges. The climate crisis is bringing further challenges to this already vulnerable country.
Green Dystopia: Axel Javier Sulzbacher, Germany (3rd Place, Environment)
The popularity of avocados has exploded in recent decades, with the burden falling mainly on the Mexican state of Michoacán. High international demand has led to more extensive plantations, with forests now being cleared illegally to plant more avocados. It is easy to see why, as more than 300,000 jobs depend on their production in the region, which generates an annual revenue of $2.5 bn. Drug cartels have now become drawn to the revenue potential from the avocado trade.
Cryogenia: Jagoda Malanin, Poland (third place, Still Life)
Malanin says: ‘I am interested in the moment of freezing and the Cryogenian period. The Cryogenian was a time of drastic biosphere changes that saw the start of severe glaciation and the planet entering a state known as Snowball Earth. The objects I photograph are small treasures chosen by my daughter that are frozen into ice shapes. Is it done in order to survive the catastrophe? What will become of us? Of all our treasures? Of the tons of rubbish floating in the water? I do not know. I only know that the question is worth asking.’
Riverland and Other Projects: Marjolein Martinot, Netherlands (third Place, Portfolio)
Martinot says: ‘Riverland is an analogue photography project that I started in 2020. It depicts various scenes – portraits, still lifes and landscapes – taken in and around the rivers and waterways of southern France. I wanted to portray the way a meandering river echoes the continuing and unexpected course that life takes.’
Mundialito: Andrea Fantini, Italy (second place, Sport)
Mundialito is the nickname of one of the most important indigenous football cups in South America. The event started in 1992 and currently gathers 80 men’s and 32 women’s teams from Peruvian, Bolivian and Colombian Amazonian communities in a 12-day championship. However, its importance goes far beyond the football. The Mundialito fulfils a social and political function of resistance and empowerment against the disintegrating forces acting on the native Amazonian communities.