The Sony Photography Awards are a mecca for snappers all over the world. This year a record 61,916 hopefuls threw their hat in the ring for either the amateur or professional prize. The competition is further divided into 13 categories, including art, current affairs and landscape with 43 different countries represented in the final shortlists. The prestige event will be judged over a glitzy week in Cannes next month. We preview some of the hottest prospects.
Germany's bright young thing at a tender 24, Spyra is already a familiar name. His brief career has already earned him the 2008 Canon prize and the Photographers Giving Back award. To date his most striking work has come from long periods in India, documenting women's boxing groups and the Kashmir: Valley of Tears series for which he is nominated here. Beautifully capturing the chaos of the world's longest running conflict zone, Spyra's understated black and white shots shed light on a tragic and under-reported part of the world.
©Andy Spyra, Sony World Photography Awards
Kaessmann entered photography after travelling through remote parts of East Africa. His work today reflects those roots, often setting his shots in extreme environments from mountains to rainforests. His diverse portfolio has grown to include portraits, advertising and more recently, sports. Kaessmann's work with the German water polo team displays a new and exciting approach to sports photography, creating magic in the pool
A graduate of the Poznan academy of fine arts, Panczuk's photography has taken him all over the world. Recent projects have included a series documenting the brothels of Bangkok and the Angkor Wat temples of Cambodia. His work has won him numerous prizes, including from Newsweek Poland and National Geographic magazine. Panczuk works mainly in the tradition of Polish naturalism, reflected with this series of earthy yet surreal portraits.
A Portuguese Englishmen who grew up in China, Martins has lived all over the world. Beginning his career as a writer he published his first novel Mäe, deixa-me fazer o pino in 1995, moving to London a year later to complete a BA and MA in photography. A recurrent theme in his work has been the "absence of life, paucity of purpose", often shown by a single object in a vast, empty space. His Accidental Theorist series won the New York photography prize in 2008.
Jonathan Smith is a British photographer who lives in New York. He rose to prominence with The Bridge Project (1995), a photographic study of New York City bridges, for which he received the Design Trust Photo Urbanism fellowship. He is currently involved with two main projects, a book compiling all his work to date as well as a series examining New York at night.
See more entries at www.worldphotographyawards.org. All Photographs courtesy of Sony World Photography Awards