The national award winners for the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

From a ‘big tusker’ elephant to the mesmerising Milky Way: The 2022 Sony World Photography Awards reveals the best single images from 61 countries taking part

  • Over 340,000 images from 211 territories were submitted to the 2022 contest 
  • Over 170,000 photos were entered into the Open contest and from these the national winners were selected
  • The National Awards program is an initiative set up to support photographic communities around the world 

In the photography competition calendar, the Sony World Photography Awards is a biggie.

It always attracts a gargantuan number of entries, for starters, and this year is no different.

Over 340,000 images from 211 territories were submitted to the 2022 contest and over 170,000 were entered into the Open competition.

From this batch, the judges have now selected – and revealed – the national award winners.

The National Awards program is an initiative set up by the World Photography Organisation and Sony to support local photographic communities around the world, with 61 countries taking part this year. 

Scroll down to see our pick of the bunch from this year’s gong-luring entries, from a stunning image of Le Mont Saint-Michel at sunset to a mesmerising photo of an otherworldly lava field in Iceland…

Photographer Cigdem Ayyildiz, who claimed the national award for Turkey, was behind the lens for this enchanting shot, which shows the French commune of Le Mont Saint-Michel at sunset. Ayyildiz says: ‘For me, this piece of art on the shores of Normandy is a candidate for Eighth Wonder of the World – providing a legendary view and atmosphere especially at sunset and when the tide is low’

This transfixing picture shows a tusker elephant (a type of male elephant) named ‘Craig’ standing in front of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Photographer Mohammed Mirza, who nabbed the national award for Kuwait, says: ‘Photographing a giant tusker like Craig was a big challenge for me. Getting so close, within a few metres from this big bull, and shooting from a very low angle with a wide lens, requires some courage! After five days with several attempts at photographing Craig in an open space, I managed to get this shot face to face’

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‘I love the combination of the Milky Way and these unique mountain rocks.’ So says photographer Gonzalo Javier Santile of this striking shot of the sky over the Argentinean town of Cafayate. Santile took the silver medal in the Latin America national award. According to the photographer, a ‘strong, hot wind known as Los Colorados was blowing’ when he went out shooting. ‘I buried my tripod the best I could, using rocks to stabilise it,’ he says. The photographer notes that the final image consists of 20 shots – six of the sky and six of the foreground

First place in the national award for Russia went to Marianna Smolina for this charming shot. Describing the picture, Smolina says that it shows ‘the frozen flight of an adult ballerina under the gaze of these little girls, dreaming of being able to do this too’

Feast your eyes on the photo that made Yawar Abbas the winner of the national award for Pakistan. It shows the sun setting over Katpana Desert, also known as the Cold Desert, near the Pakistani city of Skardu. Abbas notes that the desert ‘looks like a golden snake’ in the ‘light from this spectacular sunset’

The top prize in the national award for Thailand went to photographer Kunuch Chutmongkolporn, for this beautiful image taken in Bangkok last October. In the background, the Buddha statue from the city’s Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen temple can be seen. Chutmongkolporn says: ‘Around the fourth week of October, the sun sets behind the statue. To get a high-impact shot, I used a super-telephoto zoom lens to compress the sun with a bird, the statue, and the city in the foreground’

This stunning shot was captured by photographer Chihao Wang, the winner of the national award for Taiwan.  Wang says: ‘Many bats inhabited this cave in ancient times. They’ve vanished due to today’s environmental changes’

LEFT: This spectacular shot, taken by Sonja Ivancsics, shows the Milky Way over Gosausee Lake in the Austrian region of Salzkammergut. Ivancsics, who won the national award for Austria, reveals: ‘I planned this photo for about a year, and on that night in June 2021 the conditions were just perfect.’ According to the photographer, the lake ‘reflects its surrounding mountains beautifully, especially the mountain Dachstein with its glacier’. She adds: ‘The picture blends two images, one taken in the blue hour, and one taken at about midnight.’ RIGHT: Jenny Zhao – the winner of the national award for the U.S – took this spellbinding shot of a polar bear cub ‘staring wistfully into the distance’ in Canada last November

The national award for Slovakia went to photographer Filip Hrebenda for this powerful image, titled ‘Born of Fire’. It was the first picture that Hrebenda captured during an expedition to the volcanic area of Fagradalsfjall in southwestern Iceland. He says: ‘Volcanoes are a rare opportunity to observe the complete transformation of a landscape. Places that were only recently valleys and meadows became hills, craters and lava fields. Being there was a great experience’

LEFT: Hans Kristian Strand snared this magical shot of Bondhusvatnet Glacier in Kvinnherad, Norway. Impressing the judges, Strand landed the top spot in the national award for Norway. Strand says: ‘I love this peaceful place. I visit the Bondhusvatnet Glacier every year hoping to get the perfect picture, and this year I finally got it.’ RIGHT: Thanks to this breathtaking image, Juan Pablo Mendez Garzona was shortlisted for the Latin America national award. The Guatemalan photographer reveals that the picture ‘combines two photos’ that were taken during a trip to Iceland. He says: ‘The first one was taken at the Arctic Henge, a group of structures located in Raufarhofn on the northeastern tip of the Melrakkasletta peninsula. The second one is the sky full of Northern Lights, which I captured a few days later. For me, this composition represents an open door full of possibilities for those who dare to walk into the unknown’

Here you’ll see ‘two sumo wrestlers attempting to trip each other out of the ring in a split-second finish’. The moment was captured by Chin Leong Teo, who scooped the national award title for Singapore

LEFT: The judges awarded photographer Damon Beckford the national award for Finland in recognition of this entry. Sharing the story behind the picture, the photographer says: ‘In January 2021 the temperature went down to minus 25 degrees Celsius on the south coast of Finland. I went to Emasalo in the city of Porvoo to capture the freezing of the Baltic Sea. As the sea starts to freeze, it creates beautiful ice sculptures on the rocks, and a few days later the sea is frozen.’ He adds that the picture ‘was shot at night with a slow shutter speed on extremely slippery ice.’ RIGHT: Photographer Raido Nurk captured this dynamic image at a surfing festival in The Hague, Netherlands. Nurk, who won the national award for Estonia, recalls: ‘The waves were the biggest I’ve ever seen in the evening when I took this photo.’ He adds: ‘The waves and the pouring rain created quite a unique atmosphere’

This high-octane picture shows the Swiss snowboarder Gian Simmen ‘in his natural habitat’ on Switzerland’s Grindelwald First. Photographer Tinu Muller, who took the gold medal in the national award for Switzerland, says it was a ‘perfect day in the Swiss Alps’ when he clicked the shutter on this shot

  • The overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 will be announced on the April 12, 2022, and will go on display at Somerset House, London (April 13 to May 2, 2022). 

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