Sony World Photography Awards 2023 Winners Announced

On April 14, the World Photography Organisation announced the winners in the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards 2023 at a special gala ceremony in London. However, there was also some controversy: one awardee revealed that he had used AI in producing his photo and turned his prize down. 

Under the Professional competition, the ceremony acknowledged 10 category winners alongside second and third place as well as the overall winners of the Open, Youth and Student competitions. A new prize, the Sustainability Prize, developed in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and Sony Pictures’ Picture This initiative, was created and awarded for the first time to recognize the meaningful actions that call attention to one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Winning photographers in the Professional competition told a wide range of impressive stories happening in different corners of the globe, depicting stories of war and peacemaking, the empowerment of women through education, gender inclusion in sports, climate vulnerability and wildlife in the context of urbanization. 

Photographer of The Year

© Edgar Martins, Portugal, Photographer of the Year, Professional competition, Portraiture, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

The acclaimed Portuguese photographer Edgar Martins won the Photographer of the Year title, and his work will be shared in a solo presentation as part of next year’s Sony World Photography Awards exhibition. 

His project is a tribute to his friend, photojournalist Anton Hammerl, who was taken and killed during the Libyan Civil War in 2011. Facing major difficulties in his quest to find justice and the truth, Martins chose to reflect on the question, “how does one tell a story when there is no witness, no testimony, no evidence, no subject?”

As the World Photography Organisation explained, “The project explores the idea of absence, of documenting, grieving, and honoring a subject as well as reflecting on the role of photography within a conflict zone. Martins’s approach is to confront these questions head-on: to embrace the idea of the fragmentary and the many contradictions and ambiguities intrinsic to war.”

Open Photographer Of The Year

© Dinorah Graue Obscura, Mexico, Open Photographer of the Year, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Unlike the criteria of the Professional competition, which requires a series of images, the Open competition acclaims the power of a single image. Winning photographs are awarded based not only on technical excellence, but also their ability to communicate an exceptional visual narrative.

Entered in the Natural World & Wildlife category, Dinorah Graue Obscura from Mexico won for her arresting image entitled Mighty Pair. The black-and-white photograph depicts a pair of crested caracara birds in Southern Texas staring fixedly in the same direction while resting together upon a branch.

Graue Obscura said: “I am absolutely certain that this recognition will contribute to the dissemination of my work as a wildlife photographer, which aims to transmit and show people the beauty I see in Nature. I believe that photography is a very powerful tool that can be used to raise awareness about the fragility of our natural world.”

Student Photographer Of The Year

© Long Jing, China Mainland, Student Photographer of the Year, Student competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

For this year’s Student competition, students were called to submit a series of five to 10 images shedding light on noteworthy stories of advancement and progress all over the world. The winning series Keep the Yunnan Opera shot by China’s Long Jing of Yunnan Arts University uses vivid colors to reflect southwestern China’s multiculturalism through opera performances. Through the series, Jing was able to show groups of performers and spectators of the opera in Yunnan from behind the scenes.

Youth Photographer Of The Year

© Hai Wang, China Mainland, Youth Photographer of the Year, Youth competition, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

This year Youth competition’s participants shared their individual perspectives of their lives and their societies. Standing out from a shortlist of seven photographers under the age of 19, 17-year-old Hai Wang from China is the Youth Photographer of the Year. Wang’s rows of deserted and eye-catching orange and blue chairs at a school ceremony canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic depicted a sense of emptiness and isolation during the mandatory stays-at-home many of us experienced.

Sustainability Prize

© Alessandro Cinque, Italy, Winner, Sustainability Prize, Professional competition, Documentary Projects, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

Alessandro Cinque (Italy) was announced as the first-time winner of the Sustainability Prize. Cinque won for his series Atrapanieblas (Fog Nets), which documents an innovative solution helping to tackle chronic water shortages in Lima, Peru. By showing how fog nets are used to catch droplets of airborne moisture and can collect about 200 liters of water per day for local residents, Cinque hopes to raise awareness and call action to the problem confronted by 40% of the world’s population.

Outstanding Contribution To Photography and Solo Exhibition 

© Rinko Kawauchi, Outstanding Contribution to Photography, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

This year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography has been awarded to the celebrated Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi, known for her intimate images capturing life’s fleeting beauty. Over 20 of her images will be shown at the exhibition. The 2022 Photographer of the Year winner Adam Ferguson from Australia presented a solo exhibition with a selection of images from his series Silent Wind, Roaring Sky, documenting the lives of communities in Australia’s Outback. 

AI Photo Controversy

Photo credit: Boris Eldagsen

Boris Eldagsen, a German artist who won the Sony World Photography Award has refused to accept his prize after revealing AI’s assistance in his portrait of two women. His entry, Pseudomnesia: The Electrician, a closeup of two women in grainy sepia, won the creative open category last week. By rejecting the award and claiming that “AI is not photography,” he hopes to create a discussion surrounding the future of art and intervention by technology.


Recommended: New Zealand Sommelier Shares his Passion for Sake and Nagano Getaway—Hotel Indigo Karuizawa Reflects the Resort Town’s Unique Charms

Share this Story