The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards celebrate the best contemporary photography from 2015.
This year, there were 230,103 entries from 183 countries, 33% more than last year.
The overall winners will be announced on 21 April but Sony has revealed the national winners — first, second, and third-place entries from 60 of the most represented countries in the competition.
You’re busy people, we know you don’t have time to be looking through 180 photographs, so we’ve gone ahead and picked out 26 of our favourites to give you an A to Z rundown (okay, so there are no O, Q, W, X, Y or Z countries featured so we’ve included six bonus countries).
Without further ado, here’s 26 shots of the year in photography from around the world in 2015, according to Sony.
Cuttlefish Aggregation by Scott Portelli
“The Australian Giant Cuttlefish aggregation is truly one of nature’s great events. Thousands of cuttlefish congregate in the shallow waters around the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, to mate and perpetuate the species. The cuttlefish-like alien beings, display an array of patterns, textures and colours to indicate their intentions. As males court a female or ward off other males, an entourage of suiters stay poised for an opportunity to mate with the female. A visual delight and a rare glimpse of nature in all its glory.”
Bataille d’epaulettes (Battle of epaulettes) by Olympe Tits
“With this photograph, I want to indicate that every human body carries a story with it, in any space, at any age. A body never lies. Every small movement tells a story, even though people are often not aware of it. This alienation from our bodies is what I want to capture in my photographs. The picture was taken with three wonderful women (Inge Schoups, Leen Dockx & An Melis) who I was working with as a choreographer for the theatre piece ëHet gaat overí in HetPaleis (Antwerp). It was taken on the roof of the Royal Ballet School where I was working last summer.”
Purple Flashes by Eduardo Minte Hess
“Calbuco Volcano, located in the lake district in Chile, is categorised as the fourth most active volcano in the country, nonetheless it has had no activity since 1972, and the last mayor eruption was in 1961. On April 22 2015, it erupted again without even a tremor to warn of its forthcoming violent activity. Some 4,400 people were evacuated, no lives were lost but the damage in the adjacent farms was huge. This photo depicts the second eruption, eight hours after the first one, the lightning activity was insane as was the ash plume.
Kingfisher in Action by Petar Sabol
“Photographing kingfishers is my true love in the last couple of years. I never get bored of them, they are such special and fascinating birds. Most challenging is to photograph them when they hunt the fish. My picture shows one special moment when this super fast little bird flew out of water with a little fish in his beak. The kingfisher made a great pose with wings spread and his fish too, twisting the body and spraying water drops all around while taking off out of the water.”
Denmark & Iceland
Hobo in the shadows by Jacob Jepsen
“In the summer of 2015, I went crazy, looking for spiders in Denmark, to photograph them. I read about a spider called “Hobo spider” and is the most venomous spider in Denmark! I HAD to find one of them! We have no really venomous animals so I was so happy to read about the hobo! And one day cleaning my girlfriends garage, it was there!!! I went NUTS! Took the spider, to a tree and started shooting it with my macro lens! And had it in a box for a few weeks after. What a great summer!”
Break Through by Hady Geneidi
“I took this photo in early 2015, in March, it was shot in ‘6th of October city’ in Giza, Egypt in a sort of a semi-desert location that I found there. I took the photo using a self-timer on the camera so this is me in the photo. Actually, I used some elements in the photo, and each one describes something like: the desert means deepness, the one far source of lighting that represents hope, euphoria and confidence and finally the geometric shape that represents the abstract element. The geometric shape in the photo is a 50x50cm wooden real object, which I made by ordering a customised order in a local carpenter in Cairo, so I could add it to the photo and modify the shape. However I had to bring it with me to this location so I could shoot in the same environment, perspective and lighting wise.”
Mushrooms by Matti Virtanen
“This photo was taken late on a summer’s evening, the last sun rays lit up the mushrooms nicely.”
Daniel Fleischhacker by Daniel Fleischhacker
“The image was taken at the beautiful lake ‘Hintersee’ in the German (Bavarian) Alps. It was a really cold winter evening in January 2015. The image shows the big mountain called ‘Hochkalter’ in the background. The whole place was covered with clouds but suddenly they opened up a gap and the amazing landscape appeared with some soft evening light. It was a truly unique moment for me.”
Childhood by Ho Wing Ka, Jimmi
“A boy is playing with his basketball after school. In Hong Kong, their lives are filled with long hours of study and they have little leisure time.”
Dancing with Stars by Imre Potyó
“After a few decades, the Danube mayfly (Ephoron virgo) have returned to the river Danube, probably due to the increasing water quality. The mass swarming of Danube mayfly is one of the most exciting phenomenons for me. My image was taken in a dark, near-natural bank of Raba river (a tributary of the Danube) with long exposure and flashlight. Unfortunately, the lamp-lit bridges have a negative influence on their natural behaviour as a complex ecological trap. The experts of the Danube Research Institute, in cooperation with the Environmental Optics Laboratory, plan to solve this problem.”
Gangasagar Fair by Abhijit Banerjee
“Gangasagar Fair is the second largest fair in India and largest in West Bengal. It attracts a crowd of approximately 500,000 people and is organised every year in the month of January, in the Delta region of West Bengal to celebrate the holy Makar Sankranti. I captured a group of women devotees from Uttar Pradesh state while they worshipped the Sun just after their holy dip.”
Magellanic Penguins at Risk from Climate Change by Christian Massari
“Penguin chicks in Argentina are dying as a direct consequence of climate change, according to new research. The picture shows the large colony of Magellan penguins in Punta Tombo peninsula in Chubut Province, Argentina. The colony is the largest in South America and stays at the site until April, incubating their eggs, raising their chicks and preparing for migration to southern Brazil. Due to the effect of increased rainfall and temperature extremes which cause altered fish behaviour and make penguins’ nests similar to swimming pools, the death rate of the chicks has increased significantly in the last decades.”
Enchanted Bamboo Forest by Kei Nomiyama
“The season of a firefly comes around in Japan at the beginning of a rainy season (May to June). This firefly is a species called Luciola parvula, and it ‘blinks’ repeatedly. It’s called a ‘Hime-hotaru’ in Japan. This species flies in the beautiful forest. But, the firefly in bamboo forests is valuable. This bamboo forest exists hidden far in the mountains on Shikoku island. I took these photos by using a composite technique and high ISO speed under the weak moonlight. Exposure time would exceed 30 minutes total.
Smile at the Heavens by Otieno Nyadimo
Supercell in Latvia by Jānis Palulis
“In the picture you can see interesting storm clouds, in the beautiful rapeseed flowering time, which is the best combination I have seen in nature. The clouds were growing fast, it was a very short moment, a few minutes.”
Too Much Practice by Khairel Anuar Che Ani
“This is an image of Rejang dancers, taken in Bali, Indonesia during the Melasti Festival which was held in conjunction with the Nyepi (Silent) Day.”
Routine Morning of Beauty Country by Kyaw Bo Bo Han
“Morning candid shot of monks and novices while accepting offerings. Taken in November 2015 on a mountain near the city of Aungban, Shan State.”
New Hights by Miriam Strong
“A street performer in Montmartre, looking over Paris.”
Nation Acomayo by José Alberto Sotomayor Jiménez
“‘Pablitos’ of the ‘Nation Acomayo’ are reflected in the melting of Colque Punku‘s snow during the pilgrimage to the Lord of Qoyllu Rit’i held in the Peruvian region of Cusco. This festivity, declared to be intangible cultural heritage in 2011 by UNESCO, brings together thousands of pilgrims in Mahuayani, Cusco province Quispicanchi, to start a hike to over 5,000 metres above sea level.”
Dog City by Manex Sungahid
“One of the contingents in the craziest and longest feast in Philippines called Ati-Atihan Festival held in Kalibo, Aklan on the third week in January. During the three days of this week-long festival, for the whole day there are street parades all over the city. Colourful faces with paint in many different ways and dressed with the theme of the contingents. They are all dancing to the the rhythm of the drums and other musical instruments.”
Sea Baby by Andrey Narchuk
“We don’t use diving equipment or a boat in order not to frighten the inhabitants of the rookery. As a bonus we had a cordial meeting with the fur seals and sea lions. That fur seal pup has never seen a man before. It examines it with interest assuming it to be an unusual pinniped (seal).”
Passing By by Peter Svoboda
“Taken in the Austrian Alps in January 2015 from a far distance using a Canon 70-300mm telephoto lens. The free rider was enjoying the deep powdery snow after a snowy day. The steep slope and low light angle created the play of light and shadows in this picture.”
Cock Fight by Burak Senbak
“Two old men dressed in authentic clothes are preparing the cocks for the fight. Cock fighting is legally forbidden in Indonesia. This scene is prepared just for photographic purposes and they do not let cocks fight. The men fill their mouth with water and spit it to the faces of the cocks to make them annoyed and angry. After this process, if they set the cocks free, they will immediately fight with each other (which is never the case). I wanted to add a smooth motion-blur effect on the photograph and shot it with a comparatively long exposure of 1/15 seconds.”
The Stairway to Hell by Tino Solomon
“The Milky Way Galaxy rises over the Darwaza crater in the Karakum desert, northwest Turkmenistan. Two explorers peer into its fiery depths, known by the local Turkmen as the ‘door to hell’. In 1971, Soviet scientists discovered an underground cavern with gas accumulation. It was set on fire to avoid a toxic release into nearby villages and in the hope it would burn out within days. Yet 45 years later, it continues to burn. Often described as the world’s most beautiful ecological disaster.”
Falling Kickboxer by Mark Fulinara
“Pictured: A kickboxer, after a crushing blow to the jaw, unconsciously falls to the ground. Hamza Imane defeats Christian Zahe at GLORY 25 in Milan, Italy.”
“Not pictured: The insane amount of coincidence that goes into a split-second photograph, or any photograph for that matter – My wife RSVPing me to go see James Law speak at the Leica LA Gallery because she knew I was a fan. Me introducing myself to James Law as a big fan of his work as a combat sports photographer, and being able to relate to him as a fellow martial artist from San Diego. James Law blindsiding me, asking if I wanted to shoot with him at the next Glory event in Milan. Me flying to Milan on my own dime, just to catch a glimpse of what a pro photographer does working for my favorite kickboxing organisation in the world. Getting the opportunity to shoot the undercard fights and capturing the Falling Kickboxer. A lifetime of martial arts, other arts, and photography all culminating into one image.”
Lighting Dream by Minh Thanh Ngô
“This is the Vietnamese traditional culture unique to Hue city. People usually release floating lanterns on the river to wish for a happy and peaceful life. The photo was taken on the Perfume River in Hue City—Vietnam. The two girls in the picture were releasing the lights to pray for their families.”
Check out all of the winning images from all 60 countries here and watch this space for the announcement of the overall winners of the competition, coming in mid-late April.
Images used with permission.