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Sony World Photography Awards unveils winners

The Sony World Photography Awards has announced Italian freelance photojournalist, Federico Borella, as Photographer of the Year for his series Five Degrees.

Taken in May, 2018, this is a portrait of Rasathi, the wife of Selvarasy, a farmer who committed suicide one year ago by hanging himself in his own field. He got into debt with a cooperative society. Photo: Federico Borella.

The series focuses on male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, which is facing its worst drought in 140 years.

Here’s the artist statement:

‘Could the dramatic increase in Indian farmers who take their own lives be closely connected to climate change and rising temperatures? A study from Berkeley University, found a correlation between climate change and suicide among Indian farmers. It is estimated that 59.300 farmer suicides over the last 30 years are attributable to climate change. According to experts, temperatures in India could increase by another 5°F by 2050. Without focused government intervention, global warming will lead to more suicides all over India. But what leads farmers to this extreme act? They run into debt through investing in production, and repaying previous loans. Despite these efforts, harvests damaged by adverse weather, and short-sighted water management lead to debt repayment failure. The impact of climate change affects global well-being, going beyond India and threatening mankind as a whole. This project is located in Tamil Nadu, the southernmost state of India, which is facing the worst drought for 140 years.’

The judges commended Borella’s work for its ‘sensitivity, technical excellence, and artistry in bringing to light a global concern’.

Five Degrees also won the Documentary category.

‘This Award is one of the most important things for my career and my life. This kind of visibility is amazing because it allows me and my work to reach a global audience. It is a ‘golden ticket’ that happens once in a lifetime. I feel a huge responsibility because I have been able to witness and record this situation as a photojournalist. This award is proof to my subjects that they can trust me – and for my profession this is fundamental.’

Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
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Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
Federico Borella's winning series, Five Degrees.
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Borella won US$25,000 for topping the Professional division, which awards photo series across 10 categories. No Australians took a place this year.

US photographer, Christy Lee Rogers, won the Open Photographer of the Year single image award for Harmony.

Harmony is an image from Rogers’ series, Muses, that is inspired by ‘the beauty and vulnerability of humankind’.

‘What started to work best for me was having a perspective from outside of the water, looking in and using the surface of a pool as a canvas, utilizing natural effects like the refraction of light with movement to bend reality, and shooting at night so I could really control my light.’ Photo: Christy Lee Rogers.

Judges commended Rogers use of light and dark contrasts, along with colour, movement and cascading underwater bodies to create an ethereal scene reminiscent of Baroque painting.

All winning photos can be found on the World Photography Organisation website.

Here’s a gallery of images.

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