Winning Images Focus on Wildlife, Climate Change, and Empathy

There's a nosy fox, regal trees, and a wild mustang stallion.

fox on porch, "In the Limelight"

Milan Radisics / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

A fox on a porch. Historic village houses in a montage with local forests. Fishing in an area rocked by climate change.

These are some of the overall winners in the prestigious 2022 Sony World Photography Awards. The winners were announced via video this week. 

The winners include “In the Limelight,” above, by Milan Radisics of Hungary. It took top honors in the Professional, Wildlife and Nature category.

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

“During lockdown, both sides were forced to adjust: man to the wilds of the forest, animals to the human environment,” Radisics explains.

In supplemental information provided to media, Radisics describes this image from the series called “The Fox’s Tale”:

Roxy on the porch of a traditional, 180-year-old house. The whole yard has become the fox’s playground. It sniffs around the whole courtyard and examines every cranny, biting new objects and jumping on familiar ones. Working exclusively at night allowed me to get creative with lighting. In some images, I used dramatic, studio-like lighting, while in others I balanced my flashes with ambient light. It was a wonderful opportunity to develop skills.

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

Winners will be on display in the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition which runs through May 2 at Somerset House, London. The exhibit includes 300 prints and hundreds of additional images featured in digital displays from winning and shortlisted photographers.

Here are some of the other winners.

"Living in the Transition pt. 6"

woman walking in water fishing

Shunta Kimura / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Shunta Kimura of Japan won in the Professional, Environment category for this image of a woman walking in the water, catching small fish or shrimp near sandbags in the river.

Kimura describes the series of photos:

I photographed these pictures in Gabura Union, Bangladesh between the beginning of October and late November 2021. Gabura Union is located on the southwestern coast of Bangladesh. It is one of the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change, and many residents often suffer from its effects. These include river erosion, landslides, rising salinity levels in fresh water sources and collapsing infrastructure, caused by the tropical cyclones that occur frequently. The purpose of this photo essay is to capture and communicate the situation for people living quietly in this transition, impacted by climate change.

"Anger Management"

wild mustang and cloud of dust

Scott Wilson / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Scott Wilson of the United Kingdom won Open Photographer of the Year for this image of a wild mustang stallion kicking up a dust storm in Colorado. The photo was entered in the Natural World and Wildlife category.

"Dorf 7"

german village house and forest montage

Domagoj Burilović / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Domagoj Burilović of Croatia won in the Professional, Architecture and Design category for his series of German villages. "Dorf" is the German word for village. German colonists began building with baked bricks instead of mud. This photo is a montage of a historic village house and local forests and plants taken in the Croatian agricultural region of Slavonia.

In the 19th century, the Croatian region of Slavonia was inhabited by people from all nations of the Austro-Hungary empire. A fast economic development began with the exploitation of forest and land. Villages became an elementary demographic unit. German colonists made the largest cultural impact through language, crafts and architecture. Instead of building with mud, people started to build with baked bricks— this raised the quality of life. The irony of history is that today, due to the impact of the war in Croatia and subsequent industry decline, the population is leaving Slavonia for Germany, in search of a better life. With the extinction of the village, the historic houses that became part of its cultural identity are the first to decay. These photographs are a photo montage of houses and local nature. Exploitation of nature was the reason these houses came into being—now this very nature is destroying them.

"The Guardians"

trees in landscape in shadow of mountain

Lorenzo Poli / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Lorenzo Poli of Italy won in the Professional, Landscape category for this series "Life On Earth." The above image portrays "trees presiding over the glacial kingdom. They are the guardians of the water cycle. Trees help control the water cycle by regulating precipitation, evaporation and flows."

Poli describes the series:

Science and religions may all fall short in explaining the incredible miracle of life which, through millennials of evolution, has transformed barren land into a living planet. Mother Earth has been regarded by humans through the centuries as a fertility goddess; water is the most incredible terrestrial element, with all living beings depending on it to thrive. Water is the common denominator of the living world. There is an untamed world between sacred and magic, where the essence of life is safeguarded by silence, where the outer and the inner world coincide. This is what I am seeking to photograph. As philosopher Alan Watts said: "Each one of us, not only human beings but every leaf, every weed, exists in the way it does, only because everything else around it does." And "If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you'll come to understand that you're connected with everything."

"Venezuelan Migrant, Colombia 6"

young girl being transported along a dump

Jan Grarup / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Jan Grarup of Denmark earned top honors in the Professional, Documentary Projects category for the series, "The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela."

The image above shows a young girl being transported home by her father along the garbage site, on the abandoned airstrip outside Maicao in Colombia.

Grarup describes the series:

More than 8.5 million people in Colombia urgently need help. The financial collapse in Venezuela has left many with no access to emergency aid, shelter, clean drinking water or food. Children pay the highest price.

Professional Photographer of the Year

migrant self-portrait

Adam Ferguson / 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Adam Ferguson of Australia won the Photographer of the Year title for "Migrantes," a series of black and white self-portraits of migrants in Mexico, taken as they waited to cross the border into the United States. Ferguson set up the scene for each image, allowing the subjects to press the button and capture the moments.

Ferguson said of his winning series:

Through collaborating with migrants, this series of photographs was an attempt to make images that inspired empathy, rather than sympathy. By surrendering the control of capture and giving each migrant agency in the process of their representation, I hoped to subvert the narrative of marginalization and create a story that felt more human, relatable and honest. I’m grateful to the brave and resilient individuals who agreed to work with me, and receive this award on behalf of them also. Winning the Photographer of the Year award gives this story another life. It allows a new audience to connect with the important stories of the individuals who shared their story with me.
View Article Sources
  1. "National Awards 2022: USA Winner Announced." World Photography Organisation. 8 Feb. 2022.