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These Are The Compelling Images That Won The 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Judges sifted through 230,103 submissions. Warning: contains some graphic images.

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The winners of the world’s largest photography competition, the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards, have been announced at an awards ceremony in London. The winning photographers were named in 17 categories, including Open, Youth, Student, and Professional.

The ninth edition of the awards saw 230,103 submissions, the most photo submissions entered to date. Iranian photojournalist Asghar Khamseh won the most coveted prize, the L’Iris d’Or Photographer of the Year, and was presented with prize money of $25,000. Khamseh's portrait series "Fire of Hatred" gave victims of acid attacks a platform on which to speak out.

L'Iris d'Or Photographer of the Year – "Fire of Hatred", by Asghar Khamseh, from Iran

Asghar Khamseh / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"[Acid throwing] violence is mostly against women and children. These attacks have been done with intent to disfigure, maim, torture and destroy the social life and the future of the victim. The motivation to commit this type of violence is cultural destitution, intolerance and happens in situations such as family conflicts, rejected marriage proposal, revenge and divorce requests. Unfortunately there are no governmental or non-governmental organizations to help with these issues in the country and they have to [rely on] public aid and donations." – Asghar Khamseh

Asghar Khamseh also won first place in the Professional Category of Contemporary Issues.


Contemporary Issues, 2nd Place – "China's Coal Dependence A Challenge For Climate", by Kevin Frayer, from Canada

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"A Chinese woman wears a mask and filter as she walks to work during heavy pollution on December 9, 2015 in Beijing, China. The Beijing government issued a "red alert" Sunday for the first time since new standards were introduced earlier this year as the city and many parts of northern China were shrouded in heavy pollution." – Kevin Frayer

Sport winner – "Second Best", by Nikolai Linares, from Denmark

Nikolai Linares / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Portraits of the silver medal winners just after losing their final at the Zealand boxing Championships held in Copenhagen in March." – Nikolai Linares

Sport, 2nd place – "Little fighters", by Jens Juul, from Denmark

Jens Juul / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"The atmosphere is good and there is loud music playing in the gym in Copenhagen where the elite girls train gymnastics 20 hours a week ... As a rule of thumb you have to put in at least 10,000 hours of training to compete internationally. Doing gymnastics you primarily fight yourself, your fears, doubts and pain." – Jens Juul

Landscape winner – "Land of Nothingness", by Maroesjka Lavigne, from Belgium

Maroesjka Lavigne / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"A country named after a desert. One of the least densely populated places on earth. Defined by its rich variety of colors yet in a forever changing, yet completely barren landscape. Namibia's landscape draws you in, through a vast brown plain of scorched earth, and steers you over the white surface of a salt pan to finally arrive in the gold tones of the sand dunes." – Maroesjka Lavigne


Current Affairs winner – "In Search of the European Dream", by Angelos Tzortzinis, from Greece

Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"An Afghan refugee carries his child as he arrived on a beach on the Greek island of Kos, after crossing a part of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece, on May 27, 2015." – Angelos Tzortzinis

Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Doctors and paramedics try to revive a baby after boat with refugees and migrants sunk while attempting to reach the Greek island of Lesbos from Turkey, on October 28, 2015." – Angelos Tzortzinis

Current Affairs, 2nd place – "Sinai Park", by Andrea and Magda, from Italy and France

Andrea And Magda / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Sharm el Sheikh, Sinai, Jan 2015. Scenery of the sound and light show of the 'thousand one nights'." – Andrea And Magda


Architecture winner – "Empire of dust", by Amélie Labourdette, from France

Amelie Labourdette / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"This series of photographs [were taken] in south Italy, in the regions of Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata and Puglia." – 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Architecture, 2nd place – "The tang dynasty tomb three series", by Hui Zhang, from China

Hui Zang / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Zhang hui originally stood in the road on both sides of the ancient imperial tomb statue." – Hui Zang

Staged winner – "Iconic B", by Alberto Alicata, from Italy

Alberto Alicata / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"In this project, Alberto Alicata, traces the history of photography, image iconic realized by the great masters, resorting to the use of a symbol of contemporary Western culture: Barbie." – 2016 Sony World Photography Awards


Staged 2nd place – "Picasso's Women", by Cristina Vatielli, from Italy

Cristina Vatielli / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Francoise Gilot was a French painter and best-selling author. She was a young painter when she met Picasso in 1944 and was his lover and muse until 1953. Picasso and Gilot never married, but they had two children together, Claude and Paloma." – Cristina Vatielli

Daily Life winner – "The Curse of Coal", by Espen Rasmussen, from Norway

Espen Rasmussen / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Coal used to be the gold of West Virginia, US. But then Obama came and new environmental regulations. Together with lower price on coal, it led to huge redundancies and the coal became a curse for many of the coal-cities in West Virginia." – Espen Rasmussen

Daily Life, 2nd place - "Jenny's Soul", by Sandra Hoyn, from Germany

Sandra Hoyn / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Jenny and Dirk cuddling in bed. The series "Jenny'€™s Soul" shows the relationship between a man and his silicone doll. Is it possible for a human being to develop feelings for a doll, to love her? Dirk (name changed) has been living together with his silicone doll Jenny for four years now." – Sandra Hoyn

Still Life winner – "Migrant Tomatoes", by Francesco Amorosino, from Italy

Francesco Amorosino / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Once a year Italian families make tomato sauce at home, cooking and canning a huge amount of vegetables. Tons of tomatoes are grown in the fields of the South of the Country and harvested by about 19,000 laborers, paid 1 or 2 euro for each filled box. In 2015 there were 13 deaths at work in the fields because of high temperatures. Many of those involved in the harvest are immigrants." – Francesco Amorosino


Portraiture winner – "Ebola Survivors", by Marcello Bonfanti, from Italy

Marcello Bonfanti / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Monjama Moussa, 25, married mother of 4 children, from Goderich. She had a coal shop and she contracted ebola from a supplier. After being treated by Emergency, she got back home, but she was refused by her family, that considered her healing as a sign of deamon possession. She has lost her family and her job. She now works as cleaner at the Emergency surgical hospital in Goderich." – Marcello Bonfanti

Marcello Bonfanti / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Fatmata Kamara, 25, with her son Koday, 1. She has lost her husband and her aunt. She contracted ebola together with her son. They both survived the infection thanks to the cures given by Emergency. They live in Waterloo, a village developed from a refugee camp, heavily struck by ebola in December 2014." – Marcello Bonfanti

Portraiture, 2nd place – "Stateless Women", by Fauzan Ijazah, from Indonesia

Fauzan Ijazah / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Zainu Bibi (16), a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, at a temporary shelter in Bayeun, East Aceh, Indonesia." – Fauzan Ijazah

Campaign winner – "TransBrasil", by Jetmir Idrizi, from Kosovo

Jetmir Idrizi / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"TransBrasil is an ongoing project ... about gender identities." – Jetmir Idrizi

Campaign, 2nd place – "Lion", by David Chancellor, from the UK

David Chancellor / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"There are now more captive Lions in South Africa than wild ones; approximately 8000 compared to 2000 living in the wild. Many of these animals are reared specifically to be shot and owned by wealthy tourists from Europe and North America." – David Chancellor

People winner – "Nomadic Life Threatened on the Tibetan Plateau", by Kevin Frayer, from Canada

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Tibetan nomads face many challenges to their traditional way of life including political pressures, forced resettlement by China's government, climate change and rapid modernization. The Tibetan Plateau, often called 'the Roof of the World,' is the world's highest and largest plateau." – Kevin Frayer

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Tibetan nomads put up a string of Buddhist prayer flags near a government resettlement community on July 24, 2015 on the Tibetan Plateau in Madou County, Qinghai, China." – Kevin Frayer

People, 2nd place – "Made in Korea", by Filippo Venturi, from Italy

Filippo Venturi / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Until the 60s, South Korea was almost a mediaeval country, poor and underdeveloped. After just 50 years, South Korea is now one of the most advanced countries in the world. The rush towards modernity has been fostered by imposing a huge sense of competition and a painstaking effort to reach scholastic, aesthetic and professional perfection." – Filippo Venturi

Candid, 2nd place – "If You Don't Drink Tea, You Are Not Chinese", by Nick Ng, from Malaysia

Nick Ng / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

The Chinese community and tea has a symbiotic relationship, a synonymous connection dating back ages ago. There's a saying "If you don't drink tea, you are not Chinese". Taken in an old Chinese Tea House in Pencheng District, Chengdu, China, which was founded around 150 years ago, this portfolio reflects the ancient tradition of Chinese teahouses, much like the modern cafes that mushroomed over our cities now." – Nick Ng

Environment winner – "Eagle Hunters of Western China", by Kevin Frayer, from Canada

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"[This was photographed] on January 30, 2015 in Xinjiang, China. The Eagle Hunting festival, organised by the local hunting community, is part of an effort to promote and grow traditional hunting practices for new generations in the mountainous region of western China that borders Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. The training and handling of the large birds of prey follows a strict set of ancient rules that Kazakh eagle hunters are preserving for future generations." – Kevin Frayer

Environment, 2nd place - Li Feng, from China

Li Feng / 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

"Hubei Tian Qin Company is an industrial company of animals which tame and reproduce experimental macaques." – Li Feng

Matt Tucker is the UK Picture Editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Tucker at

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