CULTURE & ARTS

Photographers From 186 Countries Compete In Worldwide Competition

The Sony World Photography Awards showcase professional, amateur and youth photographers across the globe.

In one shot, a bay fur seal peers innocently into an underwater camera near the Commander islands. In another, a young girl dressed in traditional costume yawns while waiting to perform during the Melasti Festival in Bali. In yet another, a sea of buildings stretch across the Sichuan province in China, housing 40,000 Buddhist monks within them.

These are but a few of the 230,103 images submitted to this year's Sony World Photography Awards earlier this year. Sent by professional and amateur photographers from 186 countries, the pool of participating artists has since been narrowed to 270 shortlisted photographers spanning 60 countries.

Sony recently announced the shortlist, featured in part below. From architecture to portraiture to wildlife photography, the selected photos provide a fascinating glimpse into not only the practice of photographers around the world, but the public and private stories contributing to current events across the globe. 

The overall winners of the 2016 competition, chosen by a panel of judges, will be announced on April 21-- including the winner of a $25,000 prize and the L’Iris d’Or/Photographer of the Year title. In the meantime, see a selection of the shortlisted photographs here, along with captions provided by Sony.

  • Malaysia, Split Second Category
    "Image was taken in Bali during Melasti Festival. This Festival is conducted once a year in conjunction with Nyepi or Silent
    Khairel Anuar Che Ani
    "Image was taken in Bali during Melasti Festival. This Festival is conducted once a year in conjunction with Nyepi or Silent Day. These young girls were waiting for their turn to perform. They looked stunning with their bright colored costumes and heavy make-up on, however the expression on each of the girls' face especially the yawning girl gives this image an extra 'ummpph.'"
  • Hungary, Architecture Category
    "Home of 40,000 Buddhist monks in Sichuan province."
    Attila Balogh
    "Home of 40,000 Buddhist monks in Sichuan province."
  • Taiwan, Nature and Wildlife Category
    Steiner Wang
  • France, Portraiture Category
    "For the Ekondas pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the most important moment in the life of a woman is the birth o
    Patrick Willocq
    "For the Ekondas pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the most important moment in the life of a woman is the birth of her first child. The young mother is called walé (primiparous nursing mother). A walé carries both responsibilities and status: she returns to her parents, where she remains secluded for a period of two to five years, and must adhere to several strict taboos during this time. The ritual is highly competitive, as it's about having more prestige and power than other walé, so she takes on a nickname to differentiate herself from rivals. Every day the young woman engages in an elaborate beautification ritual to draw attention to herself. She spreads a red preparation, a mixture of powder of ngola wood with palm oil, over her own body. The sophisticated hairstyles, made of a mud like paste, a mixture of ashes from bopokoloko leaves and palm oil, are yet another way for walé to flaunt their uniqueness. Actresses act and stage appearance."
  • Venezuela, Conceptual Category
    "Beached humans on unknown shores."
    Alejandro Beltran
    "Beached humans on unknown shores."
  • Germany, Architecture Category
    "The 'Pools' series is a study of water, one of the most precious resources for life on our planet. The artistic approach of
    Stephan Zirwes
    "The 'Pools' series is a study of water, one of the most precious resources for life on our planet. The artistic approach of photographer Stephan Zirwes is to show how the important resource is in contrast between being the consummate location for entertainment and the incredible waste of drinking water not only for being used in private pools but also the trend to privatize what is a public asset and use it for commercial reasons. Public pools can still be a symbol for the importance that water should be free accessible to everyone. The clean formal language and the simple design of the pictures focus our interest on this newsworthy issue with elegance and almost playful. A deep dive into the blue as Zirwes copied parts of the original pool tiles and enlarged them in a simple, visible way to create a kind of mount in patterns."
  • Norway, Staged Category
    "I want to explore how self-portraiture for many people has become an obsession, and how presence in a self-portrait situatio
    Kristoffer Eliassen
    "I want to explore how self-portraiture for many people has become an obsession, and how presence in a self-portrait situation is absent, or becomes a peculiar part of the selfie act. This can develop absurd situations, and my project is a play around such situations."
  • France, People Category
    Elie Kauffmann
  • Bangladesh, Arts and Culture Category
    "The last five days of Kartika month are known as Bhisma-Panacaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing t
    Tanveer Rohan
    "The last five days of Kartika month are known as Bhisma-Panacaka. Grandfather Bhisma fasted for these five days, preparing to give up his life. However one observes Kartika-vrata, he should intensify it for the last five days. The best way to observe the Kartika-vrata is to abstain from eating grains for the whole month, and to take only milk or water for the last five days. If one eats grains during the month, he should avoid them for the last five days. Also, one should only eat once a day."
  • United Kingdom, Youth Portrait Category
    "Taken in Cannes, France 2015. I took this photograph on Promenade de la Croisette, during my summer holiday. Whilst everyone
    Talia Rudofsky
    "Taken in Cannes, France 2015. I took this photograph on Promenade de la Croisette, during my summer holiday. Whilst everyone is mostly new wealth, this woman stood out, as she is relatively modest in appearance, and accompanied by a dog, as well as being elderly. I found it amusing how the dog shared the same facial expression as the [woman]."
  • Russia, Environment Category
    "This series represents exploration of the most extreme and far cold-water seas, washing the coasts of Russia, because only f
    Alexander Semenov
    "This series represents exploration of the most extreme and far cold-water seas, washing the coasts of Russia, because only few people in the world had chance to dive there. These seas are true pearls of nature, hiding mysteries and treasures not only for divers and scientists -- there is another universe with its own aliens and fantastic creatures. These strange animals are mostly undescribed. Some of them are tiny, some are hidden because of their complete transparency, some are beautiful and gentle giants -- in the underwater world you can find living things for the first time in the history of humanity, but they were there for millions of years. Modern diving and photo equipment give us a chance to reveal this beauty hidden in the dark."
  • United States, Daily Life Category
    "There are more than 300 people that [travel] with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus blue unit, representing
    Stephanie Sinclair
    "There are more than 300 people that [travel] with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus blue unit, representing 25 different countries and speaking everything from Russian to Arabic to Guarani. A few travel in cars and trailers, but a majority, 270, live on the trains. Most come from multigenerational circus families, to the extent that collectively, the circus staff represents thousands of years of circus history. The men and women all say that only circus people like them can understand the lifestyle. They spend 44 weeks of the year traveling an average of 20,000 miles from coast to coast on a train that is 61 cars, a full mile€ long. It is a life of close quarters and rigorous training, a life that many of the performers began in childhood. Their job is to convince the world that the circus still matters."
  • Italy, Candid Category
    "Miami Beach: A showgirl, during her performance on Ocean Drive."
    Giancarlo Ceraudo
    "Miami Beach: A showgirl, during her performance on Ocean Drive."
  • Hong Kong, Travel Category
    "A fisherman is farming the sea in between the bamboo rods constructed for aquaculture off the coast in southern China."
    Tugo Cheng
    "A fisherman is farming the sea in between the bamboo rods constructed for aquaculture off the coast in southern China."
  • Lithuania, People Category
    Karolis Janulis
  • Norway, Daily Life Category
    "Coal used to be the gold of West Virginia, U.S. But then Obama came, and new environmental regulations. Together with lower
    Espen Rasmussen
    "Coal used to be the gold of West Virginia, U.S. But then Obama came, and new environmental regulations. Together with lower price on coal, it led to huge redundancies and the coal became a curse for many of the coal-cities in West Virginia. In 1940, 140,000 worked in the mountains, today only about 15,000 are left in the coal business. Towns like Beckley and Mullens do not have many other sources of income. Drugs, pills, alcohol and violence is dominant many places, and young people are struggling to find work, forcing many to move."
  • France, Staged Category
    "Pictures of 'The Philosopher' are the result of improvised events, born out of the search "at the whim of improvised journey
    Juliette Blanchard
    "Pictures of 'The Philosopher' are the result of improvised events, born out of the search "at the whim of improvised journeys"€œ of places favorable to disruption, to reinvention ... Between dada poetry and punk controversy, the body that is staged here wants to wake up life. Absurdity in an absurd world, eruption of freedom in skimpy landscapes, anarchic dancing in a shabby architecture, the cliche of the philosopher is the result of improvised events, born of research at the discretion of improvised trips by the two artists."
  • Italy, People Category
    "Until the '60s, South Korea was almost a mediaeval country, poor and underdeveloped. After just 50 years, South Korea is now
    Filippo Venturi
    "Until the '60s, South Korea was almost a mediaeval country, poor and underdeveloped. After just 50 years, South Korea is now one of the most advanced countries in the world. The rush towards modernity has been fostered by imposing a huge sense of competition and a painstaking effort to reach scholastic, aesthetic and professional perfection. Youngsters grow up by keeping in mind the same ideals and future aims: get the best marks to get the best jobs. At the same time, the aesthetic models are totally conformed, obtained through a massive use of plastic surgery. The country pushes the young generation toward an alienating standardization, the exact opposite of what happens in western countries, where success comes from one's ability to emerge from the mass. The collateral effects of this rapid social, educational, economical, aesthetic and technological evolution achieved through high competition and rivalry are psychological outbursts such as social isolation and stress that sometimes bring to alcoholism and suicide (South Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world: 43 per day)."
  • United Kingdom, Environment Category
    "A worker walks through farm fields in Los Banos, California, May 5, 2015. California water regulators on Tuesday adopted the
    Lucy Nicholson
    "A worker walks through farm fields in Los Banos, California, May 5, 2015. California water regulators on Tuesday adopted the state's first rules for mandatory cutbacks in urban water use as the region's catastrophic drought enters its fourth year. Urban users will be hardest hit, even though they account for only 20 percent of state water consumption, while the state's massive agricultural sector, which the Public Policy Institute of California says uses 80 percent of human-related consumption, has been exempted."
  • Germany, Sports Category
    "A member of the Mexico team competes in the Women's Team Free Synchronized Swimming Preliminary on day four of the 16th FINA
    Matthias Hangst
    "A member of the Mexico team competes in the Women's Team Free Synchronized Swimming Preliminary on day four of the 16th FINA World Championships at the Kazan Arena on July 28, 2015 in Kazan, Russia. (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.)"
  • Germany, Smile Category
    "Reindeer farmer kids in Mongolia."
    Peter Voss
    "Reindeer farmer kids in Mongolia."
  • United States, Campaign Category
    "These images were created for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Adaptive Sports Program and the RIC Hornets wheelcha
    Rob Gregory
    "These images were created for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's Adaptive Sports Program and the RIC Hornets wheelchair basketball team."
  • Netherlands, Candid Category
    "Fashion designer Louison Mbeya watching the fashion show. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is known for its war, rebels
    Yvonne Brandwijk
    "Fashion designer Louison Mbeya watching the fashion show. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is known for its war, rebels and poverty, but when it comes to style and fashion, its capital, Kinshasa, is an inspiration for many people on the African continent. Here, fashion is not the motor powering the rapidly growing economy, but rather an effect of this; the current economic and political circumstances are the flywheel that is allowing something that has always been in the population's DNA to flourish. Kinshasa, Paris of Africa 2025 is part of an ongoing multimedia project named Future Cities. For this project journalist Stephanie Bakker and photographer Yvonne Brandwijk discover the next generation of cities. Kinshasa'€™s first launch and print date was on July 15, 2015, at the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant."
  • Denmark, Sports Category
    "The atmosphere is good and there is loud music playing in the gym in Copenhagen where the elite girls train gymnastics 20 ho
    Jens Juul
    "The atmosphere is good and there is loud music playing in the gym in Copenhagen where the elite girls train gymnastics 20 hours a week. You have to if you want to participate at the elite level. And they do. As a rule of thumb you have to put in at least 10,000 hours of training to compete internationally. Doing gymnastics, you primarily fight yourself. Your fears, doubts and pain. But the youngsters help and encourage each other. So it might be a lone battle. But they fight it side by side."
  • Switzerland, Nature and Wildlife Category
    "I came across this juvenile flying fish while diving in open water near Tubbataha Reefs, Philippines. Juvenile flying fish a
    Eric Madeja
    "I came across this juvenile flying fish while diving in open water near Tubbataha Reefs, Philippines. Juvenile flying fish are often spotted hovering just below the surface, hiding inside natural or manmade debris, drifting the ocean currents. Juvenile flying fish can be attracted by light at night, but during the day they tend to swim away as soon a diver approaches. It took me hours to get close enough and this photograph was taken just when the sun was setting, beautifully illuminating the clouds at the horizon."
  • Russia, Nature and Wildlife Category
    "Bering sea. Commander islands. Baby fur seal."
    Andrey Narchuk
    "Bering sea. Commander islands. Baby fur seal."

Note: the country attached to each photograph indicates the home country of each photographer, not the setting of the image.

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