The winners of the professional category of the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards have been announced, with Pablo Albarenga named as Photographer of the Year for his work on indigenous communities in Latin America.
Pablo Albarenga, a documentary photographer from Uruguay, is this year’s Photographer of the Year for his series Seeds of Resistance, which highlights the plight of indigenous communities in Latin America, who are fighting to preserve their territories from agri-business and deforestation.
Albarenga’s work pairs aerial images of some of the locations in danger with portraits of the activists fighting to conserve them.
The project explores the people and their lands – sacred areas where generations of their ancestors are buried.
Shot from above, the main characters are pictured as though they are laying down their lives for their territory.
The winners of the Open, Student, and Youth competitions have also been announced along with the overall winners in each of the Professional competition categories.
The Open competition celebrates the power of single images and this year’s winner is Tom Oldham for his portrait of Black Francis, frontman of rock band Pixies, originally taken for MOJO Magazine.
Ioanna Skellaraki, representing the Royal College of Art, triumphed in the Student competition for her series Aeiforia, which addresses the issue of sustainability through a series of night-time photographs of solar panels, wind turbines and battery farms on the island of Tilos in Greece.
The Youth Photographer of the Year award went to 19-year-old Hsien-Pang Hsieh from Taiwan for his image titled Hurry, featuring a street performer who appears to be walking quickly but is in fact standing still.
Sandra Herber is the winner in the Architecture category for her series Ice Fishing Huts, Lake Winnipeg.
“These huts, shacks or permies (as they are called in Manitoba) must be transportable, protect their occupants from the elements and allow access to the ice below for fishing.”
Documentary category winner Chung Ming Ho focused on protesters for his series Wounds of Hong Kong.
“Reports suggest that since the demonstrations began, cases of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen among the population.”
First place in the Environment category went to Robin Hinsch for his series Wahala which looks at the effects of the petroleum industry on the communities and ecosystem of the Niger Delta.
“Covering 70,000sq km [27,000sq miles] of wetlands, the Niger Delta was formed primarily by sediment deposition. The region is home to more than 30 million people and 40 different ethnic groups, making up 7.5% of Nigeria’s total land mass. It used to boast an incredibly rich ecosystem, containing one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet, before the oil industry moved in.”
Ronny Behnert won the Landscape category with a series titled Torii – traditional Japanese gates commonly found at the entrance to Shinto shrines.
“Most of the time I use neutral density filters to force long exposures and keep my work minimalist in style. Some of my exposures last five minutes or more, which makes any distracting elements in the water or sky disappear – the longer the exposure, the clearer the photograph.”
Pangolins in Crisis by Brent Stirton was first in the Natural World & Wildlife category.
“Pangolins are the world’s most illegally trafficked mammals, with an estimated one million trafficked to Asia in the last 10 years. This body of work exposes the trade, while exploring aspects of illegality and celebrating the people who are trying to save these animals.”
Portraiture winner Cesar Dezfuli photographed people rescued from a rubber boat drifting in the Mediterranean Sea for the series Passengers.
“The boat had departed some hours prior from Libya. In an attempt to give a human face to this event, I photographed the passengers minutes after their rescue. Their faces, their looks, the marks on their bodies all reflected the mood and physical state they were in after a journey that had already marked their lives forever.”
Senegalese Wrestlers by Angel Lopez Soto triumphed in the Sport category.
“Fights have been known to attract audiences of around 50,000 in a stadium. For many, it’s a slice of African life, tradition and culture, in which there is a mix of animist and Muslim beliefs.”
The Still Life category winner is Alessandro Gandolfi for his series Immortality Inc.
“Can man really become immortal? Few truly believe it, and so research has focused on cryo-conservation, man-machine hybridisation and mind downloads instead.”
All photographs courtesy 2020 Sony World Photography Awards