Sony World Photography Awards 2012


Written by Tshepo Mokoena
Photos and illustrations by David Chancellor, Alessandro Grassani, Maja Daniels, Mitch Dobrowner, RĂ©mi Ochlik, Amit Madheshiya
22 Sunday 22nd April 2012


Mady & Monette 01

Let's start things off with the category that beginner photographers could most easily get into: the art of photographing people. This isn't quite the same as portraiture, though this particular entry walks that line narrowly in a way that we enjoy.

Pictured, and shot in Paris by Swedish lens-carrier Maja Daniels, are twins Mady and Monette. Maja used to see them perusing the local fruit and vegetable market in her neighbourhood, and when she approached them at last discovered the twins not only dress identically but often refer to themselves in the singular first person, acting, modelling and dancing as a couple for a living. Their delicate frames and almost otherworldly physical bond are effortlessly captured here, in the simple and well-framed shot.

Nature & Wildlife

There's something so charming about this photo that makes us return to it, time and time again. Given that it's in the Nature and Wildlife category, it also makes us smile a little because the only live animal shown is a human.

Photographer David Chancellor (winner of the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2010) shot a series of Texan hunters from the Dallas Safari Club, documenting them going about their daily activities surrounded by the fruits of their hunting labour. It's an unexpected twist on a nature shot, and one that demonstrates excellent balance within the frame and well-delivered lighting.

Contemporary Issues

This photo, simply entitled 008, comes from photographer Alessandro Grassani. It was taken in March 2011 in Mongolia's Arkhangai province, where he observed the daily struggles felt by one family (the Tsambas) when confronted with some of the harshest winters in the area's history. Known as a 'dzud', an exceptionally snowy winter has the power to decimate the livestock populations that most rural families rely on for day-to-day survival.

Here Grassani has captured the sombre sight of one of the area's inhabitants tugging a sheep's dead body across the snow-blanketed fields that were its demise. The photo captures not only the sadness of the task, but the inherent banality and practicality with which it's being carried out: this sort of scene has become the norm for the people of Arkhangai.


Mitch Dobrowner's Storm Over Field is our pick in the Landscape category for Professional entrants. A photographer currently based in California, Dobrowner has made somewhat of a name for himself as a lover of American Southwest landscapes and nature obsessive.

In this particular frame, he's managed to snap the brewing of a storm in South Dakota that somehow conveys a sense of silence in such a tumultuous scene. Since leaving his Long Island roots in his early twenties Dobrowner's desire to reinject an appreciation of nature in all of its forms has largely informed his work, and shines through in this well-composed and tricky shot.

Current Affairs

Battle for Libya

Finally, our pick for this category came from a hugely talented photographer who tragically lost his life covering violent civil unrest in Homs, Syria. Rémi Ochlik was killed alongside Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin in February in a shelling incident in their safe house, but in his short lifetime shot some of the most arresting and brutal images depicting wartime and conflict in Haiti, Tunisia and the Democratic Repulbic of Congo.

This stark shot of Colonel Gaddafi's body, refridgerated for public viewings in the days after his death, illustrates two sides to the dynamic of regime change. The violence, of course, is depicted but placed alongside a rare glimpse at Gaddafi in his most vulnerable and basic state: a bare torso, which could be the body of any other citizen of his country. It strips back a layer of the dictator's facade never seen before, and resonates as one of the strongest images fromthe Arab Spring.


Have a dig through the galleries yourself and let us know which photos catch your eye.

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