Sony World Photography Awards

Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset HouseI am ambivalent about photo competitions: most of them judge a single image and I am long past the time that I think a single image is the measure of a photographer. Although a competition can inspire us to do better work, my own inclination is towards collaboration with others as I find this a more creatively rewarding stimulus. Also, exhibitions of competitions are discordant affairs – like a bag of Licorice Allsorts, each photograph competes for our attention, with the loudest winning. On the other hand, you can get to see some good images, and that I never object to.

It happens that the Sony World Photography Awards top entries are on display not far from where I’m currently working – at Somerset House near Temple tube station in London UK. So, have an extended lunch hour and take in the show, I thought. And I’m glad I did.
Having paid my entry fee I was politely informed that photography was not permitted in the gallery. You have to laugh at the irony of a competition designed to promote photography actually banning photography! I would have taken a general picture to include on this blog, but I’ll just have to leave it to your imagination.

The exhibition layout was good with clear but not dominant labelling and a reasonable amount of white space to let each picture breath.
I was impressed by some of the work being done by or for amateurs: City Projects and Londoner’s Photography Competition, though my biggest surprise – in a good way – was the Moving Image Award. I didn’t do it full justice in the limited time I had, but I was impressed by the creative effort that had gone in. I was particularly impressed by “No Entry” by Vargha Mark Tillosh, with great distortions/warps and flows from one scene to the next; excellently pre-visualised and executed.

I always try to leave an exhibition like this having discovered a new photographer. With my interest in landscape it’s not surprising that I endorse the judges’ decision to award top prize, L’Iris d’Or, to Mitch Dobrowner for his series on storms in the American mid-west. But he’s not my ‘discovery’ since I already knew of his work from publication in Lenswork. My New Discovery award goes to Lee Chee Wai for his minimalist and high-key images of fishermen, fishing poles and boats from Xiapu county, Fujian province, China. I enjoyed the quiet moment spent looking at Lee’s images in the middle of a busy day.

And finally, honours to Sony for making an excellent job of what could have been a naff competition. Well done, long may it continue!

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