Images from shortlisted pros in the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

From wild foxes at night to a scene from the Capitol riots: The astonishing images by professional photographers shortlisted in the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

  • Judges reward technical skill and ‘original approaches to contemporary subjects’ in the professional contest
  • More than 156,000 images were entered – the highest number in the 15-year history of the awards
  • Judge Mike Trow said that the finalists and shortlist are ‘diverse, challenging and as powerful as ever’

The talents of some of the world’s most gifted photographers have been recognised in the latest stage of the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards.

Following on from announcing the winners of the National Awards segment of the competition in early February, the awards judges have now revealed the finalists and shortlisted entries in the professional phase of the contest. 

The professional competition rewards snappers for producing collections of work that show technical skill and demonstrate an ‘original approach to contemporary subjects’ across 10 different categories. A striking shot of a Wiltshire tree, a scene from the Capitol riots, and a mesmerising image of a wild vixen were among the images taken by photographers who have been given ‘finalist’ and ‘shortlist’ status. 

Of the 340,000 images entered into the Sony World Photography Awards as a whole, 156,000 were submitted to the professional competition – a number that the judges say is the highest in the history of the awards. 

Commenting on the judges’ verdict, Mike Trow, Chair of the Jury, said: ‘The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 finalists and shortlist are as diverse, challenging and, I believe, as powerful as ever. The standard of work in the Professional competition surprised me in its depth and variety. At points, we all may have felt that the ongoing Covid crisis meant that the world had shut down but when reviewing these projects it is clear nothing could be further from the truth.’

The overall winners in the student, youth, open and professional competitions of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 will be announced on April 12, and the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition will run from April 13 to May 2, 2022, at London’s Somerset House. Scroll down to see MailOnline Travel’s pick of photos from the snappers that were acknowledged… 

This stunning image is taken from a collection called The Fox’s Tale by Hungarian photographer Milan Radisics, who was a finalist in the Wildlife & Nature category of the contest. Radisics followed the same fox for eight months to compile this set of snaps. He said: ‘I spent almost every night sitting at the window of my cottage in the middle of the forest – where wild animals live almost as neighbours of the villagers. The young vixen appears in the village after dusk, circles an hour and a half, and appears in a courtyard several times. I observed her movements and behaviour from the darkened room, and took the exposure remotely. I named her Roxy’

This image is another from Radisics. He explained: ‘I set the lights in advance, like in a studio, and waited for the protagonist to walk into the scenes. She always surprises me, showing a new side, and I have had to solve many technical, theoretical, and physical challenges in the process of photographing her’

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This underwater shot of a sea lion was taken by UK-based snapper Grahame Purdy in Baja California, Mexico. Grahame, who was shortlisted in the Wildlife & Nature category, said: ‘Despite two-thirds of the world being covered in seas and oceans, we know so little about this world. Our lack of understanding is partly driven by the remoteness and challenges in experiencing these environments. We are often content with near-shore sea-life experiences: coral or rocks can bring some degree of reliable experience. But our deep oceans remain otherworldly. I have been driven, and inspired, to photograph these places. To show the beauty that exists in the oceans and seas is our first step in connecting with wildlife that lives there’

This picture is from a powerful collection of images by Brazilian photographer Ricardo Teles that document the Kuarup, a ritual in which the Xingu indigenous Brazilians honour their dead. This shot captures a martial art called Huka-Huka. Teles, who was a finalist in the Sport category, said: ‘These photographs were taken during a Kuarup celebration in the Afukuri village of the Kuikuro ethnic group. This year’s ritual honoured the people who lost their lives between the years 2020 and 2021: four of five were victims of Covid-19’

This is another shot of Kuarup by Teles. He said: ‘The celebration takes place once a year in different villages and lasts for three days’

This shocking image of a flamingo in a rubber tyre was taken by Mehdi Mohebi Puor from Iran. It was shortlisted in the Environmental category and taken at Miankaleh International Wetland, located in the Mazandaran province of Iran, 25km (15.5 miles) north of the city of Behshahr. The photographer said: ‘In recent years, we have witnessed the death of thousands of migratory birds in Iran’s Miankaleh Wetland – the cause is still unknown’

Showcasing flamingos in flight, this is another of Puor’s shots. It was also taken at Miankaleh International Wetland

South African photographer Gideon Mendel ‘portrays families and individuals within the empty shells of gutted buildings’, the judges explained. Mendel was a finalist in the Environment category. In this shot, a man called John Banks stands in the ruins of his home in Greenville, California, which was destroyed by the Dixie Fire, an enormous wildfire that ravaged the state in 2021

This is another shot by Mendel. In this image, Father Ioannis Siaflekis stands in the doorway of the derelict 18th-century Agion Taxiarchon Church in Kokinomilia Village on the Greek Island of Evia. The church was a victim of the fires that devastated the island during an unprecedented heatwave in the summer of 2021

This shot by Giacomo d’Orlando depicts Nemo’s Garden, the world’s first underwater greenhouse. These biospheres are located 40 metres off the coast of Italy in the Ligurian Sea. D’Orlando, a finalist in the Environmental category, said: ‘This completely self-sustainable project explores an alternative farming system that could be implemented in areas where environmental or geo-morphological conditions make the growth of plants almost impossible. The encouraging results of the past few years, where more than 40 species of plants have been successfully cultivated, gives hope that a sustainable agricultural system has been developed to help tackle the new challenges brought by climate change’

Belgian photographer Lieven Engelen was shortlisted in the Environment category for this striking image of a fishing village in Ghana after a storm had destroyed some of the houses there. Engelen said: ‘The September storm was one of the latest examples of how global warming is accelerating and changing the face of the Earth. And how entire communities living in coastal areas are at risk from rising sea levels, resulting in migration. As long as carbon emissions continue to rise and rainforests are being reduced to irrelevance, there is nothing that will stop the immense power of an increasingly heated and acidic sea’ 

Hugh Kinsella Cunningham entered this shot into the Creative Story category and was rewarded with a place on the shortlist. In this image, Lele Pitshu, 32, poses for a portrait with her son Joseph and her baby Dominique at their village in the Kasai-Oriental province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Cunningham, the communities here are still reeling from the aftershocks of decades of war and conflict 

This image, showing sandstone rocks in the Zhangye National Geopark in China, is part of a collection called Red Beds by Chinese photographer Jonas Daley. This body of work earned him a place on the shortlist in the Landscape category

This is another photograph from Daley’s collection. According to Jonas, the striking appearance of these red rocks is a result of ‘long-term weathering, exfoliation and water erosion’

American photographer Win McNamee was a finalist in the Documentary Projects category. The picture above is from his series of scenes from the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters descended on Washington DC’s Capitol Building and fought their way inside

This image formed part of Venezuelan photographer Alejandro Cegarra’s Two Walls project about the difficulties asylum seekers face when they try to get into the USA. It was captured in the Mexican city of Juarez. His work earned him a place on the shortlist for the Documentary Projects category

UK photographer Gareth Iwan Jones was a finalist in the Landscape category. He said of his entries: ‘This project was born of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and the impact upon my work as a portrait photographer. Inspired by my home county of Wiltshire, where the distinctive landscape features many knolls with lone trees raised above the horizon line. Unable to photograph people, I turned to my love of trees. I wondered if it was possible to take a unique portrait of these quiet giants. I chose to photograph against dusk skies and lit the trees with drones to create an otherworldly impression’

LEFT: This is another image of a Wiltshire tree from Gareth Iwan Jones’ collection. Gareth’s wider portfolio includes portraits of celebrities such as Dame Judy Dench and Benedict Cumberbatch. RIGHT: Martin Broen’s series of cave exploration photographs caught the judges eyes enough to earn the US snapper a place on the shortlist in the Landscape category. Each picture was taken in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. A speleothem hangs in the foreground of this shot. Speleothems are geological formations formed by mineral deposits that accumulate over time in natural caves. Broen said: ‘These decorations took millennia to form. A majestic world that is under our feet and is barely known due to the challenge of reaching and photographing it, with no natural light beyond the entry points. These are locations that may be hours away from the closest exit to safety, through a labyrinth of underwater tunnels, but that can offer (to the daring photographer) some unique experiences to shoot’

This is another shot from Broen, who says that the Yucatan Peninsula is ‘the biggest underwater river system in the world, with amazingly decorated tunnels and chambers that can compete with the best Gothic churches in the world’

South African photographer Brent Stirton – a finalist in the Portraiture category – was behind the lens for this shot. The image shows the expert bushmeat hunter Nkani Mbou Mboudin with the antelope he just shot hunting in the forest around his village in Gabon, known as Doume. ‘This village survives on fishing and bushmeat. Gabon has a sustainable bushmeat culture, largely because of its small population and large protected habitats,’ says the photographer 

This image by Iranian photographer Majid Hojjati earned him a place on the shortlist in the Landscape category. Majid was also a finalist in the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards. This shot is taken from a collection called ‘The Earth Belongings’. Hojjati said: ‘Maybe it’s time to weigh what we have taken from nature and what we have given it and measure what we have done with the universe’

LEFT: This picture, snared by Phillip Walter Wellman, was shortlisted in the Portraiture category. It was captured at the beginning of 2021 as part of a series, showing people living in Kabul, Afghanistan. He says: ‘Foreign forces were to leave Afghanistan later in the year, and the portraits focused on those who would remain – predominantly, Afghans who sold goods or services in the streets and earned little. Everyone I photographed had different expectations for the future. No one expected to be living under the Taliban’s strict Islamic rule by the year’s end. However, on August 15, 2021, the Taliban seized Afghanistan’s capital, and it instantly transformed the portraits into images of a bygone era – one meant to provide hope for Afghans, but which ultimately failed many of them. By September, nearly the entire country risked sinking into poverty, according to the UN, which warned of a “rapid, catastrophic deterioration in the lives of Afghanistan’s most vulnerable” including many of those who made a living in the streets.’ RIGHT: According to the judges, Lorenzo Poli’s Life on Earth collection ‘delves into the ethereal magic of nature and the mysterious beauty of an untamed world, depicted through a diverse set of landscapes’. This particular image was taken in Torridon in the Scottish Highlands. The Italian photographer was a finalist in the Landscape category

Another enchanting shot – called ‘Craters Alignment’ – by Poli. It was taken in Iceland’s Highlands, an area that’s mostly made up of uninhabitable volcanic desert. Describing the picture, he says that it shows ‘Icelandic craters aligning to one of the major seismic faults’

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