Arts & Culture

31st December 2022

Shooting Stars: 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

After two years of online only, you can finally get face-to-face again with the internationally award-winning images of Sony’s World Photography Awards. And what’s more, the exhibition is right here in Liverpool…

Yes, that’s right: 2022 sees Liverpool’s dockside photography venue Open Eye Gallery play host to a selection of snapshots and series from globally-renowned shooting stars. Each are either highly-recommended or prize-winning pictures from the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards, a competition begun 16 years ago with the aim of ‘elevating photographers’ careers’ which is now considered among the photography world’s most prestigious accolades.

Photo courtesy of Rob Battersby

Eye Opening: Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery displays award-winning entries from the 2022 Sony World Photography Awards

The Awards span four main sections – Professional, Open, Student (ages 18 to 30) and youth (12 to 19) – further split by subject matter, with categories for everything from sport to street photography to still life. All are amply represented across two floors of Open Eye Gallery’s waterfront studio space. The upper level also showcases the shortlist of the Alpha Female Awards: an adjacent photography contest which strives to promote diversity and inclusion in the traditionally male-dominated photography industry. The third and final tranche of award-winning images come courtesy of the Latin America Professional Award, run in tandem since 2020 with Sony’s four more traditional categories to spotlight work from an often under-represented region.

Photographer of the Year

The Uruguay-born winner Pablo Albarenga (, for one, describes South America as ‘a continent historically told through the eyes of foreigners’, an impetus for his photo-montage series, Seeds of Resistance. Paying homage to the 207 environmental activists killed whilst protesting in 2017 – with 80% of deaths in Brazil relating to those defending the Amazon – Albarenga has captured dozens of primarily indigenous people lying amid the landscape they so cherish. The traditional dress several of his subjects don impresses the ancestral, as well as spiritual, connection many have to the land, with the bird’s-eye viewing angle a subtle nod to human insignificance when set against the vast scale of the natural world.

Braziliant: Albarenga’s Seeds of Resistance is a series of staged shots set against a backdrop of the Amazon basin
Photo courtesy of Rob Battersby

Connected Ideas

‘Connections’ was also the set theme for this year’s student competition, threading its way (sometimes quite literally) through entries including Sachi Deshmukh’s highly figurative Connections (below right) and the mesmerising, kaleidoscopic Memories of Family by Nanjing University’s Xu Han (left).

Sony Connect: Entries for the 2022 ‘Student’ competition bracket
Photo courtesy of Rob Battersby

Other recurring themes across the interconnected galleries include a celebration of the beauty of our planet, be it natural or manmade. According to prize jury member Mike Trow, all of the award’s winning images underscore that ‘beauty is not always obvious’, serving as ‘talking points’ to ignite debate on controversial subjects. Turkish photographer Cigdem Ayyildin, for instance, makes a convincing case to crown a new Eighth Wonder of the World with her almost surreal aerial shot of Le Mont Saint-Michel at Sunset (below, second from right).

Alpha Best: A selection of images shortlisted for the Alpha Female Award 2022
Photo courtesy of Rob Battersby

Find yourself feeling a little snap happy after all this talk of award-winning shots? Note that all four categories of the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards are now open for entries (yep: that includes the ‘Student’ one!) – simply visit for more details. Alternatively, if you’d rather go local before you go large, the Liverpool City Region Photo Awards 2023 are also open until 9 January 2023. Both competitions offer FREE online submission. For more info (or simply more inspo) you can follow @worldphotoorg and @OpenEyeGallery, respectively.

The 2022 Sony World Photography Awards run until 22 December at Open Eye Gallery, 19 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP. Entry is FREE for all. Visit for more details.

Featured image courtesy of