These Winning Photos Are Snapshots of Everyday Life

Young farmers show need for food sustainability and ecological awareness.

Coenraad Heinz Torlage, Student Photographer of the Year

Coenraad Heinz Torlage / 2021 Sony World Photography Awards

Young people on a farm in South Africa. Hands trapped in a curtain symbolizing how so many people have felt during the pandemic. An angel-like woman in Mexico's Sonora Desert.

These are more striking winners in the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards. They are tops in several categories including the Youth, Student, and Outstanding Contribution to Photography winners. The professional winners and open competition winners were also announced.

Above is "Sanele and Sisi," part of the "Young Farmers" series by Student Photographer of the Year winner Coenraad Heinz Torlage of South Africa.

Torlage describes his work:

"I was born on a farm in South Africa, and grew up with cattle, horses, donkeys and chickens, many of which I still own and love to this day. Farming is an intense occupation that requires passion and unwavering dedication. I set out to photograph young people who choose this life because, like me, they believe they have a responsibility. This sits heavily on all of our shoulders. South Africa is an unpredictable land with severe droughts, safety concerns and debates around land ownership. Despite these challenges, young farmers are working toward a fairer and more equitable future of sustainable food security. They are my peers, my friends and my family, and this is our time to feed the nation."

Torlage was awarded $36,000 worth of Sony photo equipment for his school.

"I have been through an experience that is almost impossible to describe. I often dreamt of winning and prayed that I could share my country and the amazing people in it with the world," Torlage said. "I believe in the young farmers of South Africa which this country needs in terms of food sustainability and ecological awareness."

Youth Photographer of the Year

youth photographer winner

Pubarun Basu / 2021 Sony World Photography Awards

"No Escape From Reality," Pubarun Basu

Pubarun Basu's photo was selected from six category winners. The 19-year-old from India says:

I created this picture with the idea of representing the feeling of being trapped in a moment, or in one's own reality. I saw the curtains as the fabrics of the space-time continuum, which those two hands fail to break out of. The shadow cast by the parallel railings on to the fabric also gives the impression of a cage, in which the entity is trapped for eternity.

Competition organizers describe the winning photograph:

"In the photograph the shadows of railings projected onto curtains create the illusion of cage bars from behind which a pair of hands is seen as if trying to break through. The illusion of shadows and hands gesture convey a sense of entrapment shared by so many across the world this past year."

Here are some of the finalists from the student and youth competition shortlists.

Outstanding Contribution to Photography

Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award

Graciela Iturbide / 2021 Sony World Photography Awards

"Mujer Angel, Desierto de Sonora, Mexico, 1979," Graciela Iturbide

This is what the competition directors had to say about the 2021 winner:

"This year’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography has been awarded to the acclaimed Mexican photographic artist Graciela Iturbide. Widely recognized as Latin America’s greatest living photographer, Iturbide’s work offers a photographic account of Mexico since the late 1970s and is celebrated for its defining contribution to the country’s visual identity. In images of everyday life and its culture alongside those of ritual and religion, Iturbide’s work explores her country’s many complexities and contradictions, questioning its inequalities and highlighting the tensions between the urban and rural, modern and indigenous. Her photographs go beyond straight documentary narratives and aim to provide a poetic vision of their subjects informed by the photographer’s personal experiences and journey."

Latin American Professional Award Winner

Latin American profession award

Andrea Alkalay / 2021 Sony World Photography Awards

"Landscape on Landscape," Andrea Alkalay

This award highlights professionals from across Mexico, Central America, and South America. Winner Andrea Alkalay of Argentina earned the honors for her series, "Landscape on Landscape."

The contest organizers said:

"Fascinated by the idea of nature as a cultural construct, in this project Alkalay shows us what it looks like when the real and the manipulated overlap, resulting in a new landscape. In the foreground we see a tranquil monochrome scene, which is juxtaposed with the rear image, which shows a digitally manipulated colourful backdrop. The judges applauded how these images deal with observations such as the perception of colour through its absence, or the flatness of paper through its fold."

Addressing her win, Alkalay said, "It is so important to give visibility to the artwork to reach a wider audience, and as an Argentine artist, it represents a great opportunity, especially in these very rare times. With this recognition, I am lucky to be able to show the world another way of seeing (which is a thought) opening a dialogue with other photographers or art media people."

Alpha Female Award Winner

Alpha Female photo winner

Adriana Colombo / 2021 Sony World Photography Awards

"The World in My Hands," Adriana Colombo

The Alpha Female Award recognizes female talent from around the world.

The award was given to Adriana Colombo of Italy for her black and white photo of a mother and her baby.

"Using a short depth of field to her advantage, the well conceived portrait radiates the intimate bond between a mother and child," the organizers said of the photo.

Michaela Ions, leader of Alpha Universe Platform & Alpha Female Program at Sony, says: "This year’s winning photo elicits such emotion from the moment you see it, and the greatest part about it is that it means something different to everyone. When you can achieve that connection with your audience as a visual artist, you know you have something special on your hands."