In the aftermath of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards, we rejoice as three intrepid Brits take all three steps on the podium for the Professional Landscape category.
Talented photographers from over 190 countries submitted what is an astonishing 326,997 photographs to enter this year’s photography company, which is governed by the World Photography Organisation.
For the category of Landscape, Yan Wang Preston took gold for his series – To the South of the Colourful Clouds.
The project took Preston over eight years to complete, and illustrates the drastic transformation of Haidong Development Zone, in the Yunnan Province of China.
Over this relatively short period, this district changed from a rural stretch to a modernised leisure town.
Although the sheer vibrancy of the colours does not look of this earth, the colours are in fact originate from the large amounts of semi-artificial soil which has been used to plant non-indiginous, shipped in, plants and already mature trees.
Second place went to Marco Kesseler, for his series called Polytunnel.
Kesseler is a London-based photographer who has had work featured across a multitude of outlets, from the FT Weekend Magazine to the British Journal of Photography.
His series challenges the expectations of a landscape competition, but focussing his lens on the hidden, almost secret, landscapes which we use to grow food.
This piece makes you realise that these, sometimes vast, landscapes are all around. Such a focus makes you realise how important these landscapes are, they are our very means of existance, yet most of us rarely consider them in our consciousness.
The third Brit on the podium was, professional photographer, Keiran Dodds who received the award for his series Hierotopia.
This particular body of work aims to raise awareness to the environmental issue of deforestation in Ethiopia, Africa.
Utilising aerial techniques, Dodds uses this unusual perspective to document the pockets of land that are preserved in the country surrounding the Tewahedo Orthodox churches, which are protected as tenets of faith.
The stark contrast between the protected lands and their surroundings illustrates the sheer extent to deforestation in Ethiopia. Indeed, it is widely reported that this East African country has lost 95% of its native forests due to human activity in the last 100 years.
What remains outside of these coveted areas is barren landscapes which are a product of decades of agriculturally, over cultivating the land along with the incremental erosion by grazing cattle. Unfortunately, the climate does not have enough rainfall to regrow at the same rate it is culled, and therefore never recovers.
Although these supremely talented artists managed to reimagine landscape photography, on of our favourite pictures came from the Brief category, which was posed to those who would accept the challenge.
The brief given was simply titled, In the Garden of England, an interpretive title in which 3rd place was claimed by home grown photographer, Edward Thompson, for his series which narrated everyday English life.
He focussed on the South East of England and compiled photographs he had taken over an astonishing 18 years. Thompson describes his almost two decade long crusade as a quest to illustrate “beautiful uncanny everyday English life.”
Amongst the series, were pictures of village fetes and other such (only) British institutions which so many of us nostalgically reminisce about. But, we particularly love this picture of a steam train worker, from Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway with soot on his face and a bedraggled, yet still neat, uniform. It really captures a slice of English life and nostalgia.