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25 Amazing Photo Finalists Of Sony World Photography Professional Competition 2021

The World Photography Organization has released the list of photographers chosen as finalists and shortlisted in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2021, which this year broke a record for the number of entries.

Now in its 14th year, the free-to-enter Professional competition rewards a remarkable body of work for technical excellence and a fresh perspective on contemporary subjects in 10 categories: Architecture & Design, Wildlife & Nature, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portfolio, Portraiture, Sports and Still Life.  

More than 330,000 images from 220 territories were submitted across the 2021 Awards’ four competitions and some 145,000 were entered in the Professional competition’s 10 categories – the highest number to date.

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The image above is included in a portfolio by photographer Alexander Nordahl illustrating the story of a beluga whale called Hvaldimir and a fisherman named Joar Hesten.

When the fisherman and former whaler jumped into the ice-cold Arctic water and freed Hvaldimir from a harness that had been fitted to the whale, both their lives changed forever.

This white, mystical creature had appeared in Norway’s Arctic waters bordering Russia, triggering the arrival of American environmental activists. Calls from Hollywood followed, and Saudi money involved.

The friendly beluga whale became an Instagram star.

When the fuss settled, Joar returned home to the south and Hvaldimir did likewise.

In the summer of 2020, he turned up in the fjord neighboring Joar’s home. During that summer and autumn, the former whaler visited the whale, looking after him and discussed with annoyed fish farmers how they could best protect it.

Wildlife & Nature

“I spent more than a year photographing leopards in Kenya’s Laikipia County,” explains the photographer. “All images were taken using a high-quality camera trap system that I developed myself for photographing elusive and nocturnal wildlife. One of the leopards in this area is a very rare melanistic individual – a black panther. Prior to this project, a black leopard had not been scientifically documented in Africa for more than 100 years.”

The work of finalist and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition was judged by Natasha Egan, Executive Director, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Sunyoung Kim, Curator, Museum of Photography Seoul, South Korea; Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director, African Artists’ Foundation and Lagos Photo Festival; Lindsay Taylor, Curator, University of Salford Art Collection; Hannah Watson, Director, Trolley Books; and Mike Trow, Independent Curator and Photo Editor, Chair of the Jury.

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Commenting on this year’s finalists and shortlist, Mike Trow said that ‘the integrity, intentionality and considered edits presented in this year’s projects stirred up debate and genuine appreciation among the jury. Photographers rose up to the challenges of 2020 using the time to delve deeper into personal projects and explore the stories unfolding in their local communities. Their efforts have truly paid off, with shortlisted and finalists’ works presenting a noticeable step up in quality, which made the competition feel special this year.”

Desert locusts are the most destructive migratory pests in the world. Thriving in moist conditions in semi-arid to arid environments, billions of locusts have been feeding throughout East Africa, devouring everything in their path and posing a massive threat to the food supply and livelihoods of millions of people.

Farmers stand by as armies of ravenous insects eat their crops. Meanwhile, herders watch the rangelands stripped bare before their livestock can get to them.

Extreme rainfall events and severe weather anomalies have created ideal conditions for locust breeding and feeding.

Swarms of desert locusts from the Arabian Peninsula began rampaging across East Africa in early 2020, devouring crop and vegetation where they landed. The crisis reached historic proportions, with 10 countries in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen suffering infestations.

Some areas of East Africa, such as Kenya, had not seen such severe desert locust outbreaks in more than 70 years. Covid-19 restrictions have significantly slowed efforts to fight the infestation.

Rescuing and saving baby chimps is difficult. When they’re taken by poachers, they are subject to tremendous trauma and abuse and cannot access the nutrition they need to survive. The care required for their survival is similar to that needed by human babies – an often-exhausting 24/7 process.

Many of the caregivers at this sanctuary are victims of the conflict; a number have been raped, displaced or wounded. They see the chimps as healing them as much as they are healing the chimps.

The bushmeat trade in the Congo Basin is the largest in the world. Chimpanzees are often shot and their babies taken for sale. Photographer Bret Stirton’s series attempts to show some of what is required to save the few chimps that are rescued, an estimated one in 10.

We see this through the lens of rescue personnel, bushmeat markets, vets at work and Lwiro, a rescue sanctuary for chimps in a part of the Democratic Republic of Congo where conflict is a regular feature and wildlife is the last priority other than to be eaten or sold.

Landscape

Sports

Still Life

Volatile Interests (above) is a visual investigation born and developed during the first national lockdown in Milan, Italy. The still lives, created by the combination of food or other everyday objects easily available at home, come to life on a bare kitchen countertop, a crucial and central element of the domestic environment.

The ever-changing nature of light and the use of different perspectives, add a unique flavor to compositions that become key memories of the isolation and mementos of the forced quarantine.

Environment

Fuvemeh, Ghana, a fishing village located between the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the Volta River, has disappeared. It cannot even be found on Google Maps, and now only exists in the memories of those who lived there.

Coastal erosion and rising sea levels – a direct consequence of global warming – are contributing to the disappearance of coastal communities in West Africa.

Over the years, the inhabitants of this village, little by little, saw their lands, their houses and their livelihoods disappear. The defenses, barriers and breakwaters built by cooperation projects, have also been swallowed by the sea.

The inhabitants of Fuvemeh who are capable to flee have left for other and countries. Some remain, only a few hundred meters from the shore, hoping the sea will not swallow their lives again.

At low tide, they return to what is left of their houses: walls; windows, a doorframe. Sometimes there is nothing, an empty space which the people fill with their memories.

Ahvaz, Iran, has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s worst cities for air pollution according to the World Health Organization, frequently topping the list in the past decade.

Industrial sources, chief among them the refineries and other components of the vast petrochemical industry in Khuzestan Province, as well as massive dust storms are the main contributors to air pollution.

The poor air quality has a significant impact on the lives of the residents of Ahvaz. Each year, thousands seek medical treatment for respiratory conditions.

The air pollution has also increased immigration out of the city, limited investments and tourism, damaged infrastructure, and added to the city’s high electricity and water consumption.

Creative Category

Documentary Projects

The pyrethrum is known as the ‘flower of death’ – a nickname that neatly describes this delicate daisy imbued with murderous power.

The pyrethrum is cultivated mainly in the hills of Nakuru in Kenya and is the arch foe of the insect world. When insects encounter the substance they are stunned into paralysis and then die.

Used for centuries as a natural insecticide, it was only in the mid-20th century that pyrethrum made an impact on the global pesticides market, earning an eminent position among natural insecticides.

During the 1980s, the pyrethrum crisis began, instigated by the chemical synthesis of pyrethroids that led to the manufacturing of cheaper but non-organic products. Today, however, this special daisy is being grown once again on the clay hills of Nakuru at an altitude of more than 1,500 meters.

The Kenyan government has decided to liberalize the production of pyrethrum, opening it to private companies in an ambitious attempt to revive the sector and help local farmers meet the growing global demand for organic products. Once sown, the plant provides a year-round yield approximately every 15 days.

A few minutes after 6pm on August 4, 2020, a massive explosion shook Beirut, obliterating its port and destroying whole sections of the city. At least 200 people were killed and more than 6,000 injured when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate detonated.

The material had been stored in a warehouse in Beirut’s port since being seized by custom authorities in 2014, despite repeated warnings of the danger from port officials and its proximity to a densely populated area of the city.

In the following days, as bodies continued to be pulled from the rubble, protesters occupied government ministries, set fires and faced off against security forces.

Portfolio

Portraiture

These portraits were taken just before the pandemic reached the U.S. in February 2020. Drag Queen Cowboys is a collaboration with the vibrant community of performers based in Las Vegas.

Set in Nevada, and inspired by the locations and displacement of characters in John Houston’s film The Misfits (1961), all drag queens chose and painstakingly made their own ‘Western’ outfits; including accessories, wigs and applying their own make-up.

These portraits on black-and-white film were taken with no digital technology, in the natural light of the American West.

Architecture & Design

The former Drnov military complex in Czech Republic had been abandoned for 17 years when two friends, Martin Chlum and Michal Seba, bought the dilapidated facility in order to realize their dream of building a final resting place for pets.

“When my dog died,” one of the owners explains, “I found that there weren’t any places where I could take him for cremation or burial.”

With the help of Czech minimalist architect Petr Hajek, the owners established what is now known as the Eternal Hunting Grounds, a space comprising a mourning hall, a crematorium and approximately 40 hectares of surrounding land where wildlife can thrive.

The overall winner of Photographer of the Year 2021 will be selected from the group of Professional finalists and announced on 15 April, along with the winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competitions.

All the finalist galleries in the various categories, @WorldPhotoOrg, can be seen here.



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bourbiza

Bourbiza Mohamed. Writer and Political Discourse Analysis.

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