Introducing the Sony World Photography Awards 2020 open competition winners

From a powerful shot of Saharan freight train to a particularly raucous looking Iggy Pop gig, the ten winners of the photography competition’s open category are all the lockdown inspiration you need right now

Looking at the haul of winners and shortlisted entries from this year’s Sony World Photography Awards open competition, our pre-coronavirus world feels like a lifetime ago.

The annual photography prize would typically be in the midst of last minute preparations for its accompanying exhibition at Somerset House but, as we’re all too aware by now, this year is anything other than typical. As galleries closed their doors and widespread travel restrictions were implemented, the art and design world has been forced to reimagine the cultural calendar virtually.

Instead of a physical show this year, the winning and shortlisted photographs will be celebrated across the World Photography Organisation’s online channels, while competition organisers have also launched Stay Connected, a campaign featuring a programme of online initiatives, activities and resources to inform and inspire photograhy fans and budding imagemakers.

The open competition shortlist and winners join the previously announced category shortlists including professional, student and youth photographers of the year, with the overall winners set to be revealed online on June 9. Read more about the ten open competition winners below.

Architecture: Rosaria Sabrina Pantano (Italy)

Emotional Geometry © Rosaria Sabrina Pantano, Italy, Winner, Open, Architecture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Pantano’s black and white image focuses in on 38° Parallelo, a pyramid shaped sculpture by Mauro Staccioli at Fiumara d’Arte in Sicily, which stands at the exact point where the geographical coordinates touch the 38th parallel.

Culture: Antoine Veling (Australia)

5:28 © Antoine Veling, Australia, Winner, Open, Culture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

From a crowd of manically dancing fans to a stage assistant struggling to keep people at bay, Veling’s photo captures the moment when members of the audience were invited on stage at an Iggy Pop concert in the Sydney Opera House on April 17 2019.

Motion: Alec Donnagh (UK)

Going Down! © Alec Connah, United Kingdom, Winner, Open, Motion, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

The four cooling towers of Ironbridge Power Station were a feature of the Shropshire landscape for 50 years, before they were demolished in December 2019 to make way for a new development. Donnagh managed to capture the moment they came down from his garden, which is on the hillside opposite the site.

Landscape: Craig McGowan (Australia)

Ice Reflections © Craig McGowan, Australia, Winner, Open, Landscape, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

In an image that feels particularly poignant in the current fight against global warming, McGowan depicts a solitary iceberg set against the fjord walls in the Northeast Greenland National Park.

Natural world and wildlife: Guofei Li (China Mainland)

Tai Chi Diagram © Guofei Li, China, Winner, Open, Natural World & Wildlife, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Taken in Botswana, this picture features two cheetahs licking each other clean following a successful hunt. The title of the image, Tai Chi Diagram, nods to the position of the cheetahs in the frame resembling the shape of a Yin and Yang symbol.

Portraiture: Tom Oldham

Black Francis © Tom Oldham, United Kingdom, Category Winner, Open, Portraiture, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Pixies frontman Charles Thompson (aka Black Francis) has been subjected to countless photoshoots over the course of his musical career. Painfully aware of this fact, Oldham asked him to acknowledge his frustration with the process during a shoot for Mojo – resulting in the article’s lead image of the singer burying his face in his hands.

Street photography: Santiago Mesa (Colombia)

Colombia Resiste © Santiago Mesa, Colombia, Winner, Open, Street photography, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Demonstrations have been a regular feature in Latin America in recent years, for reasons that include the rising cost of living, inequality and lack of opportunity, among others. Mesa’s photograph shows a protester in the Colombian city of Medellin, as a riot squad attempts to disperse the crowd.

Still life: Jorge Reynal (Argentina)

A Plastic Ocean © Jorge Reynal, Argentina, Winner, Open, Still Life, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

As the fight against plastic pollution goes on, Reynal’s image of a fish seemingly struggling for breath in a plastic bag is a powerful reminder that we still have a long way to go.

Travel: Adrian Guerin (Australia)

Riding a Saharan Freight Train © Adrian Guerin, Australia, Winner, Open, Travel, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

This image was taken from the top of the rear carriage of the iron-ore train in Mauritania as it was making its 700km long journey from the coastal town of Nouadhibou to the Saharan wilderness of Zouérat. Stretching 2.5km in length, it is one of the longest trains in the world.

Creative: Suxing Zhang (China)

Knot © Suxing Zhang, China, Winner, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Featuring a portrait of a young woman with a collage of different graphic symbols, this single image is part of the series Hua (meaning flower in Chinese) which looks at flowers as a metaphor for femininity.

(Banner image: Submerged in the Collection Puddle © Julian Fabiolato, United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Creative, 2020 Sony World Photography Awards)

Find out more about the Sony World Photography Awards here