Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

The results of the first selection of the Sony World Photography Awards 2019 have been published and of course there are a lot of shots of the highest level. Let’s try to analyze the ones that impressed us the most, waiting to know the winners

The Sony World Photography Awards 2019 is one of the most important photography competitions in the world, with thousands of subscribers every year from all countries of the world. During the first phase, the shots that will compete in the final phase of the competition for the Open and Youth sections were selected.

Per Italy national luster, like every year, it had a good performance with 8 finalists. We decided to select and analyze the shot that struck us most for each category, in order to draw inspiration and also some useful lessons. The categories we will examine are: Architecture, Creative, Culture, Landscape, Movement, Nature, Portrait, Still Life, Street Photography, Travel of the Open competition, the one dedicated to all fans.

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: Architettura

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Seeing the Light, © Christopher Madden

The inspiration for this image came from an image created by the world renowned architectural photographer Ezra Stoller.

United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Architecture (Open competition), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

The architectural photography that most impresses me is the one it manages to express the relationship between man and his works. Architecture has decreed the fundamental step in human evolution: from being a nomadic hunter, man becomes sedentary and shapes the environment to make it functional to his needs. Thus a necessary relationship is born between man and architecture. I chose this shot because it seems to sum up this concept very well: man in front of his immense creation which now performs the most varied functions, not only provides protection.

The strength of the composition in this shot is clearly the opposition of the man standing on the lawn and lighting the stadium on which the dynamism of the scene is based. A wise use of the architectural elements and of the chiaroscuro generated by the light he then created a network of parallel and perpendicular lines. Note how the two main lines – that of the stalls with the beginning of the lawn and that of the ceiling with its parallel of light – divide the scene into 4 rectangles, positioned with the rule of thirds. The use of parallel and perpendicular lines gives great stability to the composition and gives grandeur and solidity to the architectural structure, in order to bring out the contrast with the dimensions of man.

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: Creativa

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Dreamers and Warriors, © Martin Stranka

Whether you are physically male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy – all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things  are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside. We should never stop following our dreams, fighting for our ideals and protecting our visions which are all symbolised by the animals captured in this series “Dreamers and Warriors.”

Czech Republic, Shortlist, Open, Creative (Open competition), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

It is never easy to evaluate a shot classified as “creative”. There creativity is something very personal and it can be used to convey emotions in different ways, not always functional to everyone’s understanding. So I chose this shot only because it is what struck me most, that caught my attention first in the midst of the others without trying too hard to analyze the technique, because after all it is also important that our shots stand out in the midst of the pit of images that are served to us every day. The question “But what does this photographer want to tell me” immediately came to my mind?

The image is clearly edited, but the regulation allowed it, so why limit your creativity? The three little birds form a triangle around the head of this strange astronaut. Not a great composition to be honest – not at the level of the shot analyzed a little while ago – indeed perhaps a little unbalanced in the positioning of the elements. The idea of ​​putting elusive animals next to a man like birds, however, it is very interesting. As a rule, a bird flees, does not approach curiously. The great strength of the shot lies in the idea, in the halo of mystery generated by the hidden face of man and by the anomalous behavior of animals. We always remember that an effective shot must not only be well composed, but must stimulate the observer’s imagination. And vice versa of course.

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: Cultura

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Bright Minuet, © Alessandro Zanoni

This picture has been taken next to the Gyeongbokgung Palace main gate, in Seoul. The ancient buildings are surrounded by several shops that rent and sell traditional costume for the visitors. For the people who wear one of that dress, the entrance is free. This shot underlines the contrast of a city in a fast-changing, where traditions and modernity are often crossing each other.

Alessandro Zanoni, Italy, Shortlist, Open, Culture (Open competition), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

It is never easy to choose a photo in this thematic category: each shot tells a journey, a story, an experience, a tradition. I was undecided for a long time between this and a second shot – but I won’t tell you which one, guess what – and in the end I opted for the whiteness of this urban glimpse. There simplicity in photography is always the winning strategy. Eliminate everything that can be eliminated, start with a white background if you can and add a few details at a time because any element you insert in the shot can be used against you. Have you ever wondered why we are fascinated by snow since childhood? Ok, yes: we see it twice a year. But there is more. A snowy landscape is essential, immense deep. There are no disturbing elements that obstruct the gaze, which can wander and get lost in a Leopardian infinity. This shot is the condensation of this message and that’s why I chose it.

Obviously rigorous and minimal composition, as befits the theme. There rule of thirds it seems applied with square and cue. The buildings, the boys, the sidewalk and the wall, everything has been positioned following the well-known compositional lines. Such a simple and conventional composition though risks being boring. This is why it is worth inserting dynamism into the image. L’dynamic element on which this shot is based is the separation of the girls into two groups. The one alone seems to want to chase the others, it seems to have been left behind. This scene reconnects to the theme of the shot, that is the contrast between the modern city that moves fast and the need to stop and contemplate the traditions.

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: Landscape

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Executioner, © Neil Burnell

I found this machine in a woodland on Dartmoor, the fog which had crept into the woods created an eerie atmosphere.

United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open, Landscape, 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

Will I have been influenced by external factors in choosing this image? Probably yes, but I’m pretty sure that if we want to be able to photograph landscapes, they must at least exist. However this shot is not the usual, tragic environmentalist cry against deforestation and the impact of man on the landscape. This shot is the quiet after the battle, it’s the soldiers who come out of the trenches, look at each other in disbelief and wonder why their officers force them to kill each other. The bulldozer and the trees spend the night together, lying among the corpses of a day’s work. It forms a great solidarity between the two protagonists of the shot. Just like in that poem by Ungaretti.

Trees are used for frame the bulldozer, directing the observer’s attention and giving depth to the shot: the impression is that of walking on the moss, slowly approaching the mysterious machine. The light that filters from above gives the final blow to the composition, the gaze is trapped in the image. The second aspect to underline is the wise use of color. Only two shades appear: green and yellow. They are not a complementary pair, but they are analogous colors or are located close together in the color wheel. This creates homogeneity in the image, flattens the contrasts and helps to blend the subjects, giving life to the solidarity atmosphere we were talking about a little while ago.

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: Movimento

Sony World Photography Awards 2019: the analysis of the selected shots

Harmony Photographer, © Christy Lee Rogers

This image “Harmony” is about the beauty and vulnerability of being human. Shot underwater in Hawaii, it’s a part of a bigger collection called “Muses.” The colors, cascading bodies and contrasts of light and darkness were utilized to create movement and purpose within the scene. My perspective from outside of the water, looking in and using the surface of a pool as a canvas, allows for beautiful natural effects such as the refraction of light, soft bubbles and imperfections. The water also lets my models and me experience firsthand the vulnerabilities and freedoms within the underwater setting. It can be a fierce place to exist, but throughout the shoot we learned how to let go and to not resist the forces around us and that’s when we really shine and have true harmony.

United States of America, Shortlist, Open, Motion (Open competition), 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

The shots chosen in this category did not impress me very much to be honest. Giving the sensation of movement is certainly very difficult with a photograph that represents the crystallization of the movement itself, but it’s not impossible: there are shots that know how to reverse this definition. If we take it as inspiration the paintings and statues of the futurists who have made the movement their label, understanding how to adapt our shots to this theme is not difficult. I could not find anything among the proposed shots that would awaken in me the idea of ​​movement. I choose this shot because the one that fascinates me most, but I must admit that I was quite disappointed.

The use of light and the softness of the clothes suspended in the water, it suddenly takes on an appearance similar to Renaissance paintings. Taking a shot like this is not easy on a technical level, there are many subjects that move randomly. The slightly unnatural color change – but not too much, it simulates the dirty water of a muddy river – is necessary to homogenize the image. Floating dresses take on the function of support the main subject, placed in the center of the image and clearly distinguishable for the different clothes. The image becomes richer in elements as we get closer to the center, the gaze is led to look for some element of interest among the folds of the clothes lulled by the water: a face, an arm, a leg. Overall, although the picture …