The World Photography Organisation names Belgian photographer Frederik Buyckx as the Sony World Photography Awards’ 2017 Photographer of the Year

This week several members of the AP team descended upon the capital to attend the grand 2017 Sony World Photography Awards to celebrate some of the world’s finest photography. The event was held over two days and kicked off with the surprise launch of the high-speed, high-end Sony Alpha 9 and the FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, the longest-reaching E-mount lens available so far for its Alpha series cameras. The press and winners also attended a talk with Martin Parr, who was honoured with the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, got a first look at this year’s exhibition held at Somerset House, which was followed by a posh awards ceremony to finish off the celebrations.

Now in its tenth year, the Sony World Photography Awards is the largest of its kind with over 227,000 entries from 183 countries. Each year the awards recognise and reward the finest contemporary photography from the last year. Free to enter and open to all photographers, the awards are an authoritative voice in the photographic industry that has the power to shape the careers of its winning and shortlisted photographers. The grand prize winners of the 2017 competition were flown to the London awards ceremony and received the latest Sony digital imaging equipment as their prize.

Belgian photographer Frederik Buyckx scooped the top prize, winning the Sony World Photography Awards’ 2017 Photographer of the Year. The judges were taken aback by the beauty, scale and effort involved in Buyckx’s winning work titled “Whiteout”. Buyckx was presented the $25,000 (USD) prize at the awards ceremony, attended by international industry experts. At the same ceremony, the category winners of the Professional competition were announced, along with the overall winners of the Open, Youth and Student competitions.

An exhibition of all the winning and shortlisted work, along with rarely seen images by British photographer Martin Parr, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, will run at Somerset House, London from 21 April – 7 May.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the winning and selected shortlisted works, available to buy from www.worldphoto.org

PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – FREDERIK BUYCKX, BELGIUM

Born in Antwerp in 1984, Frederik Buyckx is a freelance photographer for the Belgian newspaper De Standaard. Buyckx’s images have been published and exhibited internationally and most recently he was shortlisted for the ZEISS Photography Award.

Shepherd by Frederik Buyckx. In the North of Montenegro a shepherd is walking to his herd of sheep with a self made broom in his hand. The broom was used to wipe off the snow lying on the back of the sheep

The winning series “Whiteout” was taken in the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia, remote areas where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature. Buyckx explains: “There is a peculiar transformation of nature when winter comes, when snow and ice start to dominate the landscape and when humans and animals have to deal with the extreme weather. The series investigates this struggle against disappearance.

Chosen from the winners of the Awards’ ten Professional categories, Chair of Judges Zelda Cheatle says of Frederik Buyckx’s photographs: “I have chosen a series of landscapes so that we may return to the essence of looking at photography. Landscape is often overlooked but it is central to our existence. These are beautiful pictures made by a serious photographer, and they are to be enjoyed. I hope this award will inspire many more photographers to take pictures that do not simply encompass the terrible aspects of life in these troubled times but also capture some of the joys and loveliness in each and every environment.”

PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY WINNERS

An expert panel of international judges were challenged to find the best bodies of work (between 5-10 images) across the ten Professional categories. The category winners are:

Architecture – Dongni (China)

Overlap, Freeway by Dongni – A variety of urban form and minimalist architecture breaks the old structure, splitting it into triangles and squares and diamond shapes, refracting a new living and style on extant spatial structures.

Conceptual – Sabine Cattaneo (Switerland)

Sabine Cattaneo – So far, only a handful of countries around the world have allowed assisted dying, either in the form of euthanasia or assisted suicide and Switzerland is one of them.

Contemporary Issues – Tasneem Alsultan (Saudi Arabia)

Mai by Tasneem Alsultan – ‘I married my dental college classmate. Sharing two children and a happy marriage, we finally decided to buy our dream house. Two days before signing the lease, he died in a motorcycle accident. Then, my father died. I was legally required to have a male guardian. I now wait for my son to turn 16 to take that role. Until then, my step brother decides on my behalf.’

Current Affairs & News – Alessio Romenzi (Italy)

We are taking no prisoners by Alessio Romenzi – In Sirte, Libya, November 26, 2016, a fighter of the Libyan forces affiliated with the Tripoli government gets some rest whilst outside, clashes with ISIS continue in the Al Jiza neighbourhood.

Daily Life – Sandra Hoyn (Germany)

Meghla, 23 by Sandra Hoyn – Meghla is with a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She started working for a garment factory when she was 12 years old. There that she met a man who promised her a better job with more money and he sold her into a brothel.

Landscape – Frederik Buyckx (Belgium)

Donkey by Frederik Buyckx – A donkey is getting up after rolling in the snow in the mountains in Albania.

Natural World – Will Burrard-Lucas (UK)

Spirit of the Night by Will Burrard-Lucas – To show hyenas in their element, I wanted to photograph them at night. The stars in Africa are so beautiful that I also wanted to include them in my image. I used a remote-control “BeetleCam” to position my camera on the ground so that I could photograph the hyena with the beautiful starry sky behind. This is a single exposure. I lit the hyena with two wireless off-camera flashes and used a long shutter speed to expose the stars. Since there was no moon to cause ghosting, it didn’t matter if the hyena moved after the initial flash.

Portraiture – George Mayer (Russia)

Light. Shadows. Perfect Woman by George Mayer – Like in works of Modernism the shadow in the exhibited portraits is symbolic itself. Occupying nearly the whole picture it holds some mystery, and occasional points of light give us a chance to guess it. It may be said that along with the woman’s body there is another inanimate character in the photograph. It is the shadow. The human figure is likened to the light fighting with the dark. In this struggle harmony is born.

Sport – Yuan Peng (China)

The twins’ gymnastics dream by Yuan Peng – This series was taken in a sports school in Jining, in Shandong province, China. Liu Bingqing and Liu Yujie are twin sisters, who have liked gymnastics since their childhood. They have studied, trained and grown up here.

Still Life – Henry Agudelo (Colombia)

Indelible Marks by Henry Agudelo – Hundreds of missing people are waiting to be recognized by the different departments of the state for this reason that is preserved at least some part of their body, whether a tattoo, a mark on one of their bones, a prosthesis. In Colombia there are more than 130,000 disappeared because of the war and violence in this country is lived, many bodies that are not identified pass to medical universities to be studied and waiting for a relative to come and recognise him.

OPEN PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – ALEXANDER VINOGRADOV, RUSSIAN FEDERATION

“Mathilda” by Russian photographer Alexander Vinogradov was selected as the best single photograph in the world and awarded the photographer $5,000 (USD) along with the Open Photographer of the Year title.

Mathilda by Alexander Vinogradov – ‘My art work is a portrait of a young girl called Nastya, who modeled for me in Moscow studio at summer 2016 after I got inspired by a famous French movie “Leon” with a cast of Natalie Portman and Jean Reno. This is the reason why my portrait is called: “Mathilda”, which was photographed as a cosplay of Portman’s role in this movie.’

YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – KATELYN WANG, US

Open to those aged 12-19, the Youth competition was won by 16 year old student Katelyn Wang from Los Angeles, California. Wang’s winning photograph “On Top of the World” was taken while standing above Lake Pehoé in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, and beautifully captures the landscape beneath her.

On Top of the World by Katelyn Wang – ‘Standing above Lake Pehoé in Chile, I felt invincible. I looked at the view that surpassed all the pictures I had ever seen in my life. I took this image in Torres del Paine National Park, in the south of Chile, during my trip there in March of 2016. I cannot begin to express the way I felt standing there, but I hope that this photograph can share my unforgettable moment with you all. It was simply magnificent.’

STUDENT PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – MICHELLE DAIANA GENTILE, ARGENTINA

Michelle Daiana Gentile, aged 21, of Escuela de Fotografía Motivarte, won with a stunning series called “Only Hope”. Responding to the brief of “Emotions”, Gentile delivered a powerful series shot across ten days spent with workers of an old paper factory in Argentina. Gentile received €30,000 worth of Sony photography equipment for her university at the awards ceremony.

Only Hope by Michelle Daiana Gentile – In every part of the old paper factory, I could feel both
the suffering and the hope, of its former workers. There are signs of the passage of time in both; whilst the
interior has remained strong, the exterior has collapsed. When a person cannot clearly see what his future holds, everything becomes blurred. This is uncertainty. Five years have passed since the former workers
decided to restore the factory, during which they have protected the abandoned building because they
believed in its possibilities. The ten days I spent with the workers showed me their gaze, their sadness but
also their dream, their certainty. They told me that each loss marks the eyes, the way one speaks, the body
and the mind. They had begun to wonder why they were enduring such adversity, but immediately, the idea
of resisting appeared.

Scott Gray, CEO, World Photography Organisation comments: “I am especially proud of this year’s selection of Photographer of the Year. I feel that in many cases it is easy to shock but that it can be so tremendously difficult to capture a sophisticated elegance, that really is so beautiful it shows the medium of photography at its best.”

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO PHOTOGRAPHY – MARTIN PARR

British photographer Martin Parr was honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize at the awards ceremony. He was recognized for his unique visual language and for pushing the boundaries of the medium.

ITALY. Pisa. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. From ‘Small World’. 1990.© Martin Parr/MAGNUM PHOTOS

ITALY. Sorrento. 2014. © Martin Parr/MAGNUM PHOTOS

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize has previously been awarded to Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Marc Riboud, William Klein, RongRong & inri, Elliott Erwitt and Phil Stern.

The 2018 Sony World Photography Awards open for entries on June 1, 2017.