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Sony World Photography Awards 2009

Press Release   •   Sep 23, 2008 09:30 CEST

A major new initiative, in association with The Prince’s Rainforests Project (PRP), was announced on Monday 22 September, at the launch of the second annual Sony World Photography Awards 2009 - a truly global competition which honours both professional and amateur photographers.

Speakers at the launch at the Seippel Gallery in Cologne included Scott Gray, Managing Director of the Sony World Photography Awards, James Kennedy, General Manager of Marketing Communications at Sony Europe, Vanessa Winship, winner of the 2008 I’iris d’or and Briony Mathieson from The Prince’s Rainforest Project. Also speaking were Ruth Eichhorn, Director of Photography, GEO Magazine and photographer and President of Magnum Photos, Stuart Franklin.

In addition to the 12 categories for professional photographers and the nine categories for amateurs, the Sony World Photography Awards are delighted to announce the partnership with The Prince’s Rainforests for the PRP Awards which complements this year’s theme of the environment.

Professional photographers will be submitting their portfolios in the hope of being selected for a fully-funded project to document the rainforest regions of the world. Amateur photographers will also be invited to submit their images for a global awareness campaign, using photography to educate and inform.

Also new to this year’s awards:

  • An extended university programme which has grown from 10 universities in Europe in the inaugural year of the awards to 60 universities across six continents. The brief for this year’s student competition is to produce one image which highlights a single environmental issue specific to their country.
  • The Festival @ The Sony World Photography Awards: a week-long festival of photography that takes place throughout the city of Cannes. Through talks, seminars, screenings, networking events, book signings and many other programmes and events, The World Photography Awards have created a programme for the photographic community to participate and network through. The Festival @ SWPA is also creating a new annual cultural event for the general public and all who enjoy contemporary art.
  • A new category list for professional photographers spreading across the three photographic genres - photojournalism and documentary, commercial and fine art
  • The introduction of the Sony Campaign Award for amateur photographers, which joins together a global obsession for football with the enthusiasm and passion of photography. Amateur photographers are invited to enter the Campaign Award with a single image that captures the beauty and spirit of football in unexpected places, with the winner having the chance of being one of the photographers used in Sony’s forthcoming digital imaging 2009 campaign work.
  • A global touring exhibition - Discovering a World of Images - showcasing images by the 2008 winners and finalists which through the course of a year will visit Belgium; Cologne; Tokyo; Delhi; New York; Singapore; Rio de Janeiro; Moscow and Melbourne.

The Sony World Photography Awards welcome submissions from every corner of the world. Last year – the first year of the awards – over 70,000 entries were received from 178 countries. For both professional and amateur photographers, the categories cover a broad range of subjects from photojournalism to sport, architecture to fashion, offering an all-encompassing competition for the photographic world.

Now, in just their second year, the awards have grown to become much more than an awards programme. It is a mix of festival events, exhibitions, award schemes and student programmes throughout the year. In April 2009 the WPA will host Festival @ The Sony World Photography Awards, a week-long celebration of photography at the Palais des Festival in Cannes attended by some of the most influential names in the photography industry from around the world. The highlight of the week is the awards ceremony gala dinner when the winners in all the categories will be honoured and the Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year will be announced.

Through its many initiatives, the Sony World Photography Awards aim to unite the international photographic community.

Vanessa Winship, winner of the 2008 I’iris d’or comments: “In its in augural year, Sony World Photography Awards have provided an opportunity for me to have had my work judged by some of the photographers whose own work I most respect and admire. In an industry as competitive as my own I was delighted to have been singled out with this series of portraits. I am not a new photographer, but this award has certainly assisted in allowing new audiences to see my work, an important and necessary aspect to anyone working in a visual medium.”

World Photographic Academy

The awards are judged by the World Photographic Academy which today comprises close to 100 of the world’s leading photographers including Elliott Erwitt, Mary-Ellen Mark, Susan Meiselas, Bruce Davidson and Tom Stoddart; gallery owners; picture agencies; international Guilds; picture editors; critics and publishers. Their role is to promote excellence in photography and set the standard for award selections.

Key dates


22 September Professional and amateur categories open for submissions

9 October Global tour opens in Tokyo

31 October Student Focus participating universities announced

25 November WPA Judges announced

2 December Global tour opens in New York

31 December Closing date for professional and amateur categories


24 February Amateur and professional awards shortlist announcement

3 March Student Focus winners’ announcement

17 March Amateur and professional winners’ announcement

14-19 April Festival @ The Sony World Photography Awards - exhibitions and events in Cannes

16 April Sony World Photography Awards gala evening and ceremony