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Sony World Photography Awards 2023 Winners and One Refused Prize

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During a special gala ceremony in London, the World Photography Organization announced the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023. After the ceremony, German photographer Boris Eldagsen refused his prize, trying to discuss the role of AI in photography.

If you are not familiar with the Sony World Photography Awards, it’s a competition for photographers and photography artists that was established in 2007. Now, it’s one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious photography competitions in the world. It consists of four different competitions: Professional, Open, Student, and Youth.

The gala award ceremony was held in London on April 13, where the winners of the event were announced and awarded. The event was presented by broadcaster and art historian Kate Bryan.

There were over 415,000 images send in worldwide, from over 200 countries. From these contributions, photographer Edgar Martins from Portugal was awarded Photographer of the Year for his series “Our War.” The series was born from his search for the truth about the dead of his friend and photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed in 2011 during the Libyan Civil War.

This year there was also a special Sustainability Prize, which was won by Alessandro Cinque from Italy. His series, “Atrapanieblas,” documents an innovative solution to tackle water shortages in Lima, Peru by special fog nets. Water is collected for the local residents by using these fog nets, which can collect up to 200 liters of water per day.

The Professional Competition Winners

The winners of the Professional Competition were selected from participants that submitted series of five to ten images. This year’s winners were:

  • Architecture and design: Fan Li from the China Mainland for his series “Cement Factory.”
  • Creative: Lee-Ann Olwage from South Africa for her series “The Right to Play.”
  • Documentary projects: Hugh Kinsella Cunningham from the United Kingdom for his series “The Women’s Peace Movement in Congo.”
  • Environment: Marisol Mendez from Bolivia together with Federico Kaplan from Argentina for their series “Miruku.”
  • Landscape: Kacper Kowalski from Poland for his series “Event Horizon.”
  • Portfolio: James Deavin from the United Kingdom for his submission ” Portfolio.”
  • Portraiture: Edgar Martins from Portugal for his series “Our War.”
  • Sport: Al Bello from the United States for his series “Female Pro Baseball Player Succeeds in All Male Pro League.”
  • Still Life: Kechun Zhang from the China Mainland for his series “The Sky Garden.”
  • Wildlife and nature: Corey Arnold from the United States for his series “Cities Gone Wild.

Unfortunately, not all winners from the China Mainland were able to attend the gala award ceremony, but they did respond by a video message that was broadcast during the event.

All winning series can be found on the website of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023.

Photographers of the Year

There were 10 Open Category winners, from which Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico won the Open Photographer of Year Award with her photo of two caracara birds.

Student Photographer of the year is won by Long Jing of the Yunnan Arts University. Another Chinese photographer, the 19-year-old Hai Wang, was awarded Youth Photographer of the year. The Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi was rewarded for her outstanding contribution to photography, capturing intimate images of moments of everyday life.

For the Open Competition, the following winners were announced:

  • Architecture: Mark Benham  from the United Kingdom.
  • Lifestyle: Azim Khan Ronnie from Bangladesh.
  • Object: Mieke Douglas from the Netherlands.
  • Travel: Max Vere-Hodge from the United Kingdom.
  • Motion: Zhenhuan Zhou from the China Mainland.
  • Portraiture: Sukhy Hullait from the United Kingdom.
  • Landscape: Giorgos Rousopoulos from Greece.
  • Natural world and wildlife: Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico.
  • Street photography: Andreas Mikonauschke from Germany.

No Winner for the Creative Open Competition Category

If you search for the winner of the Creative Open Competition, you will find only a shortlist of photographers and not a winner. The award was first given to a German photographer named Boris Eldagsen for his image “The Electrician.” But after he was awarded, he took the stage just after the gala diner to decline the prize. He proclaimed it was an AI-generated image, part of a series called “Pseudomnesia: Fake Memories.” With his action, he wanted to give attention to the growing AI-generated images and to start a discussion on the role of AI in modern photography.

The photo is no longer shown or mentioned on the website of the Sony World Photography Awards 2023. 

Exhibition at Somerset House, London

From April 14th until May 1st, 2023, the Sony World Photography Awards exhibition can be visited at Somerset House in London. All winning photographs are showcased, including a curated selection of 20 photographs by photographer Rinko Kawauchi from Japan.  

There is also a solo presentation by Adam Furguson, the Photographer of Year 2022 winner. His series “Silent Wind, Roaring Sky” shows the remote lives of the communities in Australia’s Outback. For more information, you can visit the website of the World Photography Organization.

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