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Credit: Christy Lee Rogers – Open Photographer of the Year

Overall winners revealed for 2019 Sony World Photography Awards

 April 17, 2019: The World Photography Organisation today names the overall winners of the prestigious 2019 Sony World Photography Awards.

The covetedPhotographer of the Year title and $25,000 (USD) prize was presented at a London ceremony to the Italian artist Federico Borella for his seriesFive Degrees.The work was praised by the jury for  its sensitivity, technical excellence and artistry in bringing to light a global concern. The Sony World Photography Awards are a global platform for photography and provide a vital insight into contemporary photography today. For both established and emerging artists the Awards offer world-class opportunities for exposure of their work.

Borella was selected from the ten category winners of the Professional competition who were announced today alongside those in 2nd and 3rd place in each Professional category. The overall winners of the Awards’ Open (best single image), Youth and Student competitions were also revealed at a prestigious London Awards ceremony, where 2019’s Outstanding Contribution to Photography recipient, the artist Nadav Kander, was also in attendance to collect his prize. All winners received Sony digital imaging equipment, publication in the winners’ book and their work will be shown as part of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London.

The judges praised this year’s winners for giving expression and interpretation to the lives and issues faced across the globe. Mike Trow, Chair of the Professional competition commented that this year’s submissions “provoked a lot of debate and interest amongst the jury” with works “pushing the boundaries of photography and challenging the perceptions and expectations of the audience.”

Produced by the World Photography Organisation, the Sony World Photography Awards are one of the world’s largest and most prestigious photography competitions. The 12thedition saw a record breaking 326,997 submissions by photographers from 195 countries and territories, presenting the world’s finest contemporary photography captured over the past year.

Photographer of the Year – Federico Borella, Italy

Five Degreesis a project by Bologna-based Italian photographer Federico Borella(age 35). With a degree in Classical Literature and Masters in Photojournalism, Borella is an internationally published freelance photojournalist with more than ten years of experience as a news photographer and is also an educator in photography and photojournalism. The series Five Degreesfocuses on male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, which is facing its worst drought in 140 years. Based on a Berkeley University study, which found a correlation between climate change and increased suicide rates amongst Indian farmers, Borella has explored the impact of climate change on this agricultural region and its community through poignant and powerful mixture of images depicting the farming landscape, mementoes of the deceased farmers, and portraits of those left behind.

Mike Trow comments “As global warming changes the face of life ever more rapidly – particularly in developing and undeveloped nations – the work of artists such as Borella becomes ever more needed”.

Professional category winners and finalists

The artists below were selected by a panel of expert judges as demonstrating artistic prowess and photographic expertise for series of five to ten images, across ten categories:

Architecture: Winner: Stephan Zirwes, Germany for series Cut Outs – Pools 2018

Second Place Tuomas Uusheimo, Finland / Third Peter Franck, Germany

Brief: Winner: Rebecca Fertinel, Belgium for series Ubuntu – I Am Because We Are2nd Christina Stohn, Germany / Third Place Edward Thompson, UK

Creative: Winner: Marinka Masséus, Netherlands for the seriesChosen [not] to be

Second Place Leah Schretenthaler, USA / Third Place Pol Kurucz, France

Discovery: Winner: Jean-Marc Caimi & Valentina Piccinni, Italy for the seriesGüle Güle

Second Place Boyuan Zhang, China Mainland / Third Place Karina Bikbulatova, Russia

Documentary: Winner: Federico Borella, Italy for series Five Degrees Second Place Brent Stirton, South Africa / 3rd Mustafa Hassona, Palestine

Landscape: Winner: Yan Wang Preston, UK for the seriesTo the South of the Colourful Clouds

Second Place Marco Kesseler, UK / Third Place Kieran Dodds, UK

Natural World & Wildlife: Winner: Jasper Doest, Netherlands for the seriesMeet Bob

Second Place Christian Vizl, Mexico / Third Place Maela Ohana, France

Portraiture: Winner: Álvaro Laiz, Spain for the series The Edge

Second Place Massimo Giovannini, Italy / Third Place Laetitia Vançon, France

Sport: Winner: Alessandro Grassani, Italy for the seriesBoxing Against Violence: The Female Boxers Of Goma

Second Place Kohei Ueno, Japan / Third PlaceThomas Nielsen, Denmark

Still Life: Winner: Nicolas Gaspardel & Pauline Baert, France for the seriesYuck

Second Place Yiming Zhang, China Mainland / Third Place Cletus Nelson Nwadike, Sweden

Open Photographer of the Year – Christy Lee Rogers, USA

The Open competition celebrates the power of single images. Winning images are selected for their ability to communicate a remarkable visual narrative combined with technical excellence. Selected from ten Open category winners as the most captivating standalone image, Nashville-based Hawaiian photgrapher Christy Lee Rogers is named Open Photographer of the Yearfor her work Harmony, and receives the $5,000 (USD) prize. Rogers is an internationally exhibited artist known for using water and lighting in her photographic works to create dramatic effects.

Harmony is an image from the artist’s Muses series that was inspired by the beauty and vulnerability of humankind. In this image Rogers has used the contrasts of light, dark, colour, movement and cascading underwater bodies to create an ethereal scene reminiscent of Baroque painting.

Speaking of her win, Rogers says “It’s an honor to be recognized as a photographer, as for so many years most people referred to me as a painter or something unknown. And I’m so grateful to be a part of the photography community and to win this beautiful award!” 

 Youth Photographer of the Year – Zelle Westfall, USA, age 18

Atlanta-based American student Zelle Westfall was awarded for her image Abuot, a striking single image in response to the theme “Diversity”. Speaking of her winning work, Westfall said “Abuot is my friend from school and she is one of the funniest people I know. In today’s society, with skin bleaching products and colorism flooding the media, it’s important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are ‘too dark.”  The Youth competition was open to all photographers aged 12-19.

Student Photographer of the Year – Sergi Villanueva, Spain, Universidad Jaume I, age 25

Valencian student Sergi Villanueva was chosen by the judges from submissions worldwide for his photographic series La Terreta, an evocative portrayal of his homeland through the local orange farming and harvesting process. Villanueva represented Universidad Jaume I and has won €30,000 (Euros) worth of Sony photography equipment for the institution.

Outstanding Contribution to Photography – Nadav Kander

As one of the world’s foremost contemporary photographers, London based artist Nadav Kander is regarded as amongst the most successful photographers of his generation. His works cover a wide variety of genres, from atmospheric landscapes to celebrity portraiture and theAwards recognise Kander for his versatile, powerful and thoughtful contribution to the medium.

The news of the overall winners joins the March announcement of 2019’s ten Open competition category winners and 62 National Awards winners, to complete the announcements of 2019’s Awards. All winning, shortlisted and commended images can be seen at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London from April 18 – May 6 before going on a global tour.

Sony World Photography Awards

The objective of the Sony World Photography Awards is to establish a platform for the continuous development of photographic culture. The Awards do this by recognizing great advancements in photography through the Outstanding Contribution to Photographyprize as well as finding and promoting new talents of the future, whether this be in the Professional, Open, Youth or Student competitions.  Sony is committed to supporting global photography. This is demonstrated not only via the Awards, but also by its significant grant program which offers selected winners of the student competition $3,500 (USD) and professional competition $7,000 (USD) to develop personal projects. The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards opens for entries 1 June, 2019.  All entries are free at

●     Professional competition: Mike Trow (Chair), editor, photographer, consultant / Erin Barnett(Director of Exhibitions and Collections, International Center of Photography, USA) /Brendan Embser(Managing Editor, Aperture, USA) /Emma Lewis (Judge and Assistant Curator, Tate, UK) / Liu Heung Shing(Founder, Shanghai Center of Photography, China) / Isabella van Marle (Head of Artist & Gallery Relations, Unseen Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

●     Open, Youth & National Awards competitions: Rebecca McClelland,Photography Director & Head of Art Production for Saatchi Saatchi & Prodigious(UK).


Top American Winners Revealed For World Photography Awards

  • Top prizes and positions awarded to 3 American artists at 2019 Sony World Photography Awards 
  • Open competition winner for striking single images announced as American photographer Christy Lee Rogers
  • Youth competition winner revealed as 18 years old Zelle Westfall
  • Leah Schretenthaler awarded 2nd Place in Professional Creative category for a series on the impact of manmade buildings and structures in Hawaii
  • Overall and Professional category finalists also announced at London awards ceremony

The World Photography Organisation today announces that two top prizes at the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards have been presented to American photographers. The Open Photographer of the Yearprize for best single image was awarded to Tennessee photographer Christy Lee Rogersfor her image Harmony, while the Youth Photographer of the Yearwas won by 18 year old Atlanta school student Zelle Westfall for her imageAbuot. Additionally, American artist Leah Schretenthaler was awarded 2nd Place in the Professional competition’s Creative category for her series The Invasive Species of the Built Environment.

Judged by a world-leading panel of judges, the acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards give audiences insight into the world’s finest contemporary photography captured over the past year and offer artists working across the medium of photography unparalleled exposure and opportunity.

Christy Lee Rogers – Open Photographer of the Year

Beating thousands of entries from across the world, Hawaii-based artist Christy Lee

Beating thousands of entries from across the world, Hawaii-based artist Christy Lee Rogers has been awarded the title Open Photographer of the Year, awarded for the best single image from the past year, across ten diverse categories. Rogers won the Motion category of the Open competition in February, then went on to beat the nine other category winners to win the overall Award. Nashville-based Christy Lee Rogers is an acclaimed visual artist from Kailua, Hawaii, whose work is exhibited globally and held in private and public collections throughout the world. As a fine artist she experiments with water to create her distinctive and dynamic photographic works which push the boundaries of photography. Her works use movement colour and the intermingling of bodies, which has lead to comparisons with the effects created by Baroque master painters.

Taken from a larger body of work, her winning image, Harmony, was shot underwater in Hawaii and aims to portray the beauty and vulnerability of being human. The photographer employs complex photographic techniques that perfectly capture the models underwater.

Describing her artistic process she said“The intention for all of my work starts with a desire to express a sense of wonder and tranquility beyond what we see here in reality; and to create a sanctuary for the viewer, a place separate from the chaos of the world, where it’s safe to dream. Shot underwater in Hawaii, the colors, cascading bodies and contrasts of light and darkness were utilized to create movement and purpose within each scene, and ask questions about our existence.”

Speaking of her Award, the artist said “Thank you Sony and the World Photography Organisation for acknowledging and rewarding artists who can continue inspiring the world with their photographs. To have the support of such an amazing group of people is an artists dream come true, and I am forever grateful.”

In winning this title, Rogers receives $5,000 (USD), Sony digital imaging equipment and flights to attend the London Awards’ ceremony. The winning image will also feature in the annual Sony World Photography Awards book and will be featured in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London, before going on a global tour.

Zelle Westfall – Youth Photographer of the Year

Triumphing over seven other shortlisted 12-19 year old Youth photographers, Zelle Westfall, an Atlanta-based 18-year-old photographer, has won the title of Youth Photographer of the Year for her striking portrait Abuot. 

As a youth photographer, Westfall spends as much time she has out of school in her studio. The artist primarily focuses her work on portraiture, where she has had the opportunity to capture professional ballerinas to minor celebrities. Her winning  image depicts a portrait of the photographer’s friend, named Abuot. Westfall explains the inspiration for her work: “In today’s society, with skin bleaching products and colorism flooding the media, it’s important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are ‘too dark.’”

In winning this prestigious title, Westfall wins Sony digital imaging equipment and was flown to the London Awards’ ceremony. Like Rogers, her work is published in the annual Sony World Photography Awards book and included in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House.

Leah Schretenthaler, 2nd Place, Creative, Professional competition

Professional competition judges were impressed by Leah Schretenthaler’s series The Invasive Species of the Built Environment, which involves the artist using the method of laser etching to remove the controversial buildings and structures in Hawaii.

Schretenthaler used traditional film and silver gelatin to create this imaginative series. “The laser leaves a scar on the image, much like the permanent damage from infrastructure which cannot be removed”the photographer explains.Judged by international photography experts from across the media, museums, publishing and academia, the Professional competition awards outstanding series of five to ten images that demonstrate artistic prowess, across ten diverse categories.

Judge, Liu Heung Shing(Founder, Shanghai Center of Photography) explains the panel’s attraction to this series: “In this series the photographer evokes the idea that if you build something in nature – on the hills, in the mountains, on the river banks – what would the result be when you remove it? The execution of this idea is rather unusual, often found more in fine art. The photographer used a very unconventional approach, and I think they did this very well.”As a Professional finalist, Schretenthaler’s work is published in the annual Sony World Photography Awards book and included in London and global awards exhibition.

2019 Sony World Photography AwardsProduced by the World Photography Organisation, the Sony World Photography Awards is one of the world’s largest and most esteemed photography competitions and is now in its 12th edition. The 2019 Awards received a record-breaking 326,997 submissions from 195 countries.

The American artists’ successes are announced today alongside all category winners of the Awards’ Professional, competition, as well as the overall Open, Youth and Student winners.  ThePhotographer of the Year title was presented to the Italian photographer Federico Borella for his series Five Degrees.

The news follows on from the March announcement of the Professional shortlist, where fellow American photographersDavid Behar(Los Angeles) was shortlisted in the Professional Architecture category, Imma Barrera (Metuchen, New Jersey)was shortlisted in the Professional Landscape,andSam Delaware from Pacific Union College, California was shortlisted in the Student competition.  This news also follows the announcement of the ten Open category and 62 National Award winners in February to complete the announcements of 2019’s awards.  For more details visit


About Sony CorporationSony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, imaging, game, communications, key device and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. With its music, pictures, interactive entertainment and online businesses, Sony is uniquely positioned to be the leading electronics and entertainment company in the world.  Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of approximately $77 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018.  Sony Global Website:

Sony Imaging Products & Solutions a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation that is responsible for its imaging products and solutions businesses, from consumer camera, solutions with a focus on broadcast- and professional-use products, to medical business.

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