Sony World Photography Awards reveal stunning shortlist for 2019 Open and Youth competitions

The World Photography Organisation today reveals the shortlisted photographers for the Open and Youth competitions of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, recognising the world’s best single images from 2018.  As one of the world’s largest and most prestigious global photography competitions, the Awards annually celebrate and promote the best contemporary photography from the past year across a wide variety of photographic genres.

Over 326,000 entries were submitted across the four competitions of the 2019 Awards, the highest ever number to date. The judges were impressed by the high standard of submissions and noted a wide range of creative approaches, influences and techniques throughout the shortlists.

Huge shout out to Sean Hayes one of the thirteen British shortlisted photographers (Sean is also an exclusive member of our online gallery, see his collection here).

Across the competitions, the highest volume of entries were submitted by photographers from the UK, Italy and USA, with Mexico, India, Korea and the UK seeing the greatest increase in entry numbers. The Landscape and Portraiture categories across the competitions proved their enduring popularity and newer categories such as Creative proved photographers real opportunity to push the boundaries of what photography can do.

The Open and Youth shortlists announced today showcase stunning and diverse individual images taken by photographers from around the world throughout 2018. The Professional shortlist, recognising bodies of work, will be announced February 26.

The Open shortlist comprises of stunning works selected across ten diverse categories. Subject matter across the shortlist varied from striking underwater photographs to majestic portraits, to urban scenes and magical landscapes. This year’s Open categories included the introduction of a new Creative category, as well as welcoming Culture Trip as Culture category partner and Eurostar as Travel category partner.

All Open shortlisted photographers will now go on to compete to become category winners, with the chance to be selected as Open Photographer of the Year winning $5,000 (USD).  

The Youth shortlist features the top eight single images taken by 12-19 year olds responding to the theme of ‘Diversity’. Shortlisted photographers come from across the world from China and Zimbabwe to Bangladesh and Moldova, showing a truly international array of upcoming talent. One young photographer will be announced as Youth Photographer of the Year in April.

Produced by the World Photography Organisation, the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards are one of the most important fixtures on the global photographic calendar. The Awards are now in their 12th year of partnership with headline sponsor Sony and consist of four competitions in total: Professional (for a body of works), Open (for a single image), Student (for academic institutions) and Youth (for 12-19 year olds).

Image below – ©Emma Last – Youth, Diversity (2019 Youth competition), Shortlist, 2019, Sony World Photography Awards

Judging the Open and Youth shortlists

The Sony World Photography Awards are judged anonymously by internationally acclaimed industry professionals, including representatives from international museums, publishing and the media.

This year’s Open and Youth competition judging was chaired by Rebecca McClelland , Photography Director & Head of Art Production for Saatchi Saatchi & Prodigious (UK).

McClelland comments: “I was astonished with the diversity of work that was entered into the Open and Youth competitions. The award represents a very democratic appreciation of photography, from tradition to emergent trends across all genres from nature to fashion. The competition allows the broadest demographic to have a platform.

“Judging single images is never easy, it is important to give equal appreciation regardless of genre to allow the fairest outcome. The judging is hosted blind to prevent nepotism or bias, which is extremely important. I look forward to seeing these striking contemporary images on display at this year’s exhibition at Somerset House.”

Commenting on this year’s overall entry figures and shortlists, Scott Gray (CEO, World Photography Organisation) notes: “The Sony World Photography Awards were created as a global platform for photographers of all abilities to showcase their work. I am therefore delighted that the World Photography Organisation can give this year’s shortlisted Open and Youth photographers the exposure and recognition that they richly deserve. Photography is a vibrant and energetic medium that is easily accessible and used throughout our daily lives. Today’s outstanding shortlists demonstrate the very high quality of imagery one must achieve in order to be shortlisted at the Awards. Congratulations to all our shortlisted photographers.”


All shortlisted and winning images will be exhibited as part of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London. This exhibition will include a dedicated section featuring specially selected works by the 2019 recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize. The exhibition will run from April 18 until May 6, 2019 at Somerset House, London.

The Awards’ overall winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on April 17. The Photographer of the Year, Open Photographer of the Year, Youth Photographer of the Year, the Professional competitions’ category winners and the ten shortlisted Student entrants will all be flown to London to attend. Winners will also receive the latest Sony digital imaging equipment and will be included in the 2019 Awards’ book.

2019 Key Dates

●  February 26 – Open category and National Awards winners’ announcement

●  March 5 – Outstanding Contribution to Photography recipient revealed

●  March 26 – Professional and Student competitions’ shortlist announcement

●  April 17 – Photographer of the Year , Overall Open, Student, Youth winners and Professional

category winners’ revealed

●  April 18 – May 6, 2019 – 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition (Somerset House,


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