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Adam Ferguson wins 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

Australian photographer, Adam Ferguson, has won the prestigious 2022 Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year grand prize for his series, Migrantes.

Photo: Adam Ferguson.

Migrantes is a series of ‘black and white self-portraits of migrants in Mexico, taken as they waited to cross the border into the United States’.

‘Photographed in collaboration with the subjects, Adam set-up the scene for each image, mounting a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the individuals to choose the moment of capture and participate in the process of documenting their lives.’

Adam described the work as ‘collaborating’ with migrants, in an attempt to ‘images that inspired empathy, rather than sympathy’.

Photo: Adam Ferguson.

‘By surrendering the control of capture and giving each migrant agency in the process of their representation, I hoped to subvert the narrative of marginalisation 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.’

Adam pitched the project to the New York Times after US President Joe Biden took office, in anticipation of a rush of migrants to the US-Mexico border. While he feels the classic documentary photography done at the border was ‘valid and important’, Adam wanted to collaborate with his subjects to ‘add something new to the conversation’ that was ‘more intimate’.

Chair of the jury, Mike Trow, explained how by providing the migrants the shutter release and allowing them to choose how they want to be seen, ‘he’s given control back to people who normally probably feel they don’t have that much control in their life. So for us it quickly became clear it would be the winner of the Portraiture Section.’

Photo: Adam Ferguson.

The New York-based Adam has produced some brilliant photography over the last few years, which has caught the attention of judges from the Sony World Photography Awards and World Press Photo Contest (WPP). In 2020 he won the WPP Portrait category for a series showing Northern Iraq minority groups displaced by Islamic State; and another portrait series of Hong Kong protesters was a finalist in the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Adam wins US$25,000, and the series also won the Portrait category. Click here for the category winners’ gallery.

Here’s a selection of category winning images.

Architecture & Design

Architecture & Design winning series, Dorf, by Croatian photographer, Domagoj Burilović. ‘Dorf‚ is the German word for village. 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.’


Creative category winning series, Mellow Apocalypse, by Latvian photographer, Alnis Stakle. ‘I am interested in the fate of canonised artistic, scientific and journalistic images and their potential to embody contemporary meanings. For my collages, I have used images from the open source collections at art museums, scientific institutions and image banks, whose archives may be considered iconic testimonies of the present and the past. The collages are grounded in my search for syntactic visual language connections pertaining to various periods, media and domains of visual culture.’


Documentary category winning series, The Children of the Financial Collapse in Venezuela, by Danish photographer Jan Grarup. ‘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.’


Environment category winning series, Living in the Transition, by Japanese photographer Shunta Kimura. ‘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.’


Landscape category winning series, Life On Earth, by Italian photographer Lorenzo Poli. ‘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.’


Portfolio category winning series by UK photographer Hugh Fox. ‘A selection of images taken over the last couple of years. For me, this series evokes the quiet, isolated, reflective moments I felt during the pandemic.’


Sport category winning series, Kuarup by Brazilian photographer, Ricardo Teles. ‘The Kuarup is a ritual of the Xingu Indigenous Brazilian to honour the illustrious dead ‚ it is the farewell and closing of a mourning period. The celebration takes place once a year in different villages and lasts for three days. The highlight of this celebration is a competition of a martial art called Huka-huka, similar to the Greco-Roman wrestling fight, which has competitive symbolism that shows the strength and virility of the young men. These photographs were taken during a Kuarup celebration in the Afukuri village of the Kuikuro ethnic group.’

Still Life

Still Life category winning series, Constellation, by Japanese photographer, Haruna Ogata & French photographer, Jean-Etienne Portail. ‘These images were taken in a studio in Paris, in September 2020 ‚ for the pure creation of a still life photo’.

Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife & Nature category winning series, The Fox’s Tale, by Hungarian photographer, Milan Radisics. ‘Over eight months, I spent almost every night sitting at the window of my cottage in the middle of the forest where wild animals live almost as neighbours of the villagers. The young vixen appears in the village after dusk, circles an hour and a half, and appears in a courtyard several times. I observed her movements and behaviour from the darkened room, and took the exposure remotely. I named her Roxy. I set the lights in advance, like in a studio, and waited for the protagonist to walk into the scenes.’

Open Photographer of the Year

Open Photographer of the Year winning image, Anger Management, by UK photographer Scott Wilson.

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