Compelling Images of Nature Shine in Pro Photo Contest

Finalists and shortlist revealed in Sony World Photography Awards.

observing fox

Milan Radisics / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

A fox peeks through the base of a moss-covered tree. Colorful flowers sway against a dark blue sky. A sea lion hunts for dinner deep in the ocean.

These are some of the images from the finalists and shortlisted photographers in the Professional competition for the Sony World Photography Awards 2022.

Presented by the World Photography Organisation, the awards are now in their 15th year. The winner of the Photographer of the Year 2022 will be chosen from the Professional finalists and announced in mid-April.

“Observing Fox" by Milan Radisics, above, is a finalist in the Wildlife and Nature category.

For eight months, Radisics spent every night sitting at the window of his cottage in the middle of the forest in Hungary watching a young fox he named Roxy. He said he set the lights up in advance, like a studio, waiting for her to walk into the scenes.

Radisics describes his image

"Roxy stares at the camera from the base of a moss-covered linden tree. The fox is hiding behind the tree observing my window and trying to decide whether it’s safe. When we first became acquainted, any sudden movement would make the fox rush to a corner of the courtyard to hide behind the bushes. Learning from this, I stayed behind the window to follow Roxy’s undisturbed behaviour."

More than 340,000 images from 211 territories were submitted this year and more than 156,000 were entered in the Professional competition. That's the most entries in the history of the awards.

Here are more of the finalists and shortlisted photographers in the professional competition.

"Painful Death of Birds"

painful death of birds

Mehdi Mohebi Puor / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

This series from Mehdi Mohebi Puor is on the shortlist in the Environment category.

Puor says, "In recent years, we have witnessed the death of thousands of migratory birds in Iran’s Miankaleh Wetland—the cause is still unknown. This is a set of efforts by environmental forces to collect and bury birds."

The image shows surviving birds migrating from the lagoon.


colorful field of flowers

Oana Baković / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Oana Baković is a finalist in the Wildlife and Nature category for a series that includes these colorful flowers photographed at Great Dixter House and Gardens in the U.K.

Baković says:

"My art emerges from the need to reconnect with the beautiful nature surrounding us. As a human, I enjoy the wonders of discovery and constant advancement that define us as species, but I am also sad that we overlook the wonders that are so close to us. This feeling set me on a path of exploration that I continue to follow. These photographs document the tragic beauty of disruptions to nature happening before our eyes. The shots, taken in my local area, are meant to draw attention to the esoteric signs that nature gives us at every step. The images were shot using a combination of ambient light and flash, sometimes ND filters. I colour-graded them in Capture One and Lightroom."

"Red Beds"

Himalayan red rocks

Jonas Daley / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

This series from Jonas Daley is on the shortlist in the Landscape category.

Daley says:

"Developed during the Jurassic and Tertiary period, this is a red rock system in the Himalayan orogeny. With the uplift of the Earth's crust, the hillside retreated—mainly through the collapse process. The remaining red sandstone has formed in isolation after long-term weathering, exfoliation and water erosion, resulting in strange rocks and stones."

“Nemo's Garden”

Nemo's garden from above

Giacomo d'Orlando / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Giacomo d'Orlando photographed Nemo's Garden, the world's first underwater greenhouse, located just off the coast of Noli, Italy. The images earned d'Orlando honors as a finalist in the Environmental category.

The photographer describes his work:

"Nemo's Garden seen from the water’s surface. The biospheres are located 40 metres off the Noli shore—a small village on the Ligurian coast. They are constructed 6-12 meter below the surface of the water, to enable the plants to draw the necessary source of light for their development. In the centre stands the tree of life which represents the core of the experiment: the possibility of growing terrestrial plants underwater."

“Sea Horse”

sea horse

Arun Kuppuswamy Mohanraj / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Arun Kuppuswamy Mohanraj is on the shortlist in the Wildlife and Nature category for his series that includes this seahorse, made of 125 images stacked together.

The photographer describes the series of photographs and how they were made:

"My pandemic project, Diaphonization, is the art of clearing and staining subjects—a process which can take many months. After ethically sourcing the dead subjects, I dehydrated them in 95% ethanol to harden the bones and cartilages inside. The process then involves using special stains such as alizarin red and alcian blue to stain the bones (red) and cartilages (blue). Later, the subjects were immersed in a soup of trypsin (natural enzyme), which digests most of the tissues and renders them transparent—leaving the stained bone and cartilage behind.. The process is painstakingly long and any minor mistake at any stage can fail the whole process. The final step is to place the subject in glycerine, which provides the right refractive index, taking multiple shots and stacking them to create a single image."

“Tehran Province - Damavand City – 2021”

Tehran province photo against mountain

Majid Hojjati / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Majid Hojjati was named to the shortlist in the Landscape category for his series called "The Earth Belongings." In it, he shows what humans have taken from nature against what people have given in return.

Hojjati says of this image:

"Damavand Mountain is located in northern Iran, in the Mazandaran province. It is known as the highest mountain in Iran and the highest volcano in Asia and the Middle East. In the past, the slopes of this mountain were covered with unique anemones, known as Lar and Rineh. In recent years, global warming, low snowfall and air pollution have affected the greenery of this region and led to drought."


tree silhouette at night

Gareth Iwan Jones / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Gareth Iwan Jones is a finalist in the Landscape category for his series on trees. Above, is a beech tree he photographed in autumn.

Jones says:

"This project was born of the Covid-19 lockdowns, and the impact upon my work as a portrait photographer. Inspired by my home county of Wiltshire, where the distinctive landscape features many knolls with lone trees raised above the horizon line. Unable to photograph people, I turned to my love of trees. I wondered if it was possible to take a unique portrait of these quiet giants. I chose to photograph against dusk skies and lit the trees with drones to create an otherworldly impression. As lockdowns took hold, so did this project. I started looking into every field and up every hill for aesthetically interesting treescapes. While many people discovered the joys of walking in nature during the lockdowns, once the sun had set it was just me, the trees and the darkness, which was an experience that at first terrified me but with time I began to relish."

“Iris UVIVF”

iris flower

Debora Lombardi / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Debora Lombardi is on the shortlist in the Wildlife and Nature category for images she created using an experimental technique that reveals vivid, incandescent colors.

She describes her iris image:

"Photographed with the ultraviolet radiation induced visible fluorescence photography (UVIVF) technique, which captures the fluorescence of flowers and plants hit by UV light—and makes visible what is generally invisible to the naked eye. I started experimenting with this technique in the darkness of my studio during lockdown."

“Sea Lion Hunting 2”

sea lion hunting

Graeme Purdy / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Graeme Purdy is on the shortlist in the Wildlife and Nature category for his work photographing activities in the deep oceans.

He discusses his image of a sea lion hunting:

"Like an Olympic athlete performing a perfectly choreographed routine, the sea lion preys on these sardines. The sardines’ only hope is to dive into the deep dark blue but the sea lion knows this and pins them to the surface waiting for its moment to strike."