2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Exhibition: Sony World Photography Awards at Somerset House
Date: Wednesday 3 May 2017 @ 6:30pm
Entrance: £5.00  (Student late night ticket)

This was the second year running that I decided to attend this exhibition.

The reason I like going to this particular exhibition is two fold: firstly, it is in Somerset House which is a very beautiful building.  And, although situated in the hustle and bustle of a busy London town, the inner courtyard always seems to provide a sense of calm.  So I was even more pleased that when the evening came round the rain had stopped and I could take the obligatory walk around the courtyard and take photos of the fountains.

Secondly, I like to see the work of upcoming photographers who have managed to get included in this exhibition, and rightly so.  It also gives me some hope that one day I will be able to provide inspiration to others through my work.  The breadth and depth of the images on show is also pleasing and opens your eyes to other cultures, social themes and technical approaches.

So what were the big take-aways for me from this exhibition?  Well there were two main things:

1 – I hadn’t realised previously, as obvious as it was at this exhibition, that I am drawn to images with certain colour palettes, together with those with muted colours, and

2 – I like images of partially obscured people.  This really surprised me as I am a big fan of portraits, full on face, so to be drawn to photos where you can see a person but not their face was very interesting to me.  Maybe I am going through some strange transition on my image likes and dislikes.

The exhibition was split into two sections the West Wing, which is the larger space, and the East Wing.  The West Wing covered:

1 – Martin Parr / Outstanding Contribution to Photography,
2 – Photographer of the Year,
3 – Professional Competition,
8 – ZEISS Photography Award, and
10 – 10 Years of the Sony World Photography Awards.

The East Wing covered:

4 – Open Competition,
5 – Youth Competition,
6 – National Awards,
7 – Student Focus,
9 – Sony Grant Exhibition, and
11 – Shop.

The East Wing was probably where most of my favourite images were displayed.  There was effective use of colour theory, empty/negative space, retouching, composition and humour.

Miniatures is one concept which has been showcased a fair bit recently online and possibly (dare I say it) is a current fashion (?!) but it’s good to see this was represented in the open competition and student focus.

Images taken behind/through something featured too e.g. a person behind a curtain; a hand beneath water covered in petals.  I think this gives a sense of voyeurism to an image.

Another aesthetic I am noticing more in exhibitions is where there is an image of someone or something and then there us a write up beside them as part of the image ‘package’.  I also noticed that all the prints (and there may have been some exceptions) were printed up on c-type matt paper.  I never used to noticed what image were printed on but now I’m fascinated by the choices made in this area.

Some of my favourite photographers and images that were exhibited were:
Nadine Hackemer – 2017 Student Focus, Trigger Me.
Ruby Gaunt – 2017 Student Focus, Untitled
Stewart Main – 2017 Student Focus, It’s the little things,
George Mayer – Portraiture 1st Place for his Light. Shadows series,
Nelli Palomaki – Portraiture 2nd place  (I note that Nelli also won a jurors’ pick prize at the 2017 LensCulture Awards which I entered this year),
Julien Caidos – Still Life Shortlist for his series Errance(s)
Shravya Kag – Student Focus Shortlist for her series The Element of Surprise,
Diego Mayon – 3rd place for his series Athens Studio, and
Spencer Murphy – 1st Place, Campaign, Professional, 2014 Sony World Photography Awards

It would be re-miss of me to end this blog post without mentioning Martin Parr, who has indeed contributed significantly to the world of photography and adds the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award to his collection.
Since being on the OCA Photography Degree pathway I have been exposed to a lot of Martin Parr’s work and have been to a number of exhibitions which showcased his images, on one project or another. For me I think his work represents a style challenge. I get his work and narrative but I find his use of colour/style jarring, that’s possibly the point as his images contain at times jarring if not always thought provoking subject matter.
Martin Parr definitely has a style which as Glen Dewis covered in his YouTube live stream, style comes from doing something the same over and over again so you have a consistency of approach and look/feel to your images.  I have not yet developed my style as I am still experimenting and unsure which way to take my photography.  One of the reasons why it is so important that I keep my eyes and mind open to new ideas and techniques.

And with that thought I will close off this review.  I will at some point provide a review of the photographers that are influencing my current work but that will be for another blog at another time.


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