World Photography Organisation announces professional finalists for Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Sony World Photography Awards finalists The World Photography Organization has announced the professional category finalists and shortlisted photographers for the Sony World Photography Awards 2024. This year over 395,000 images from more than 220 countries and territories were submitted to professional categories, a new record for the 17-year-old competition. Organizers have whittled those entries down to three finalists and an assortment of shortlisted images in each of 10 categories: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portfolio, Portraiture, Sport, Still Life and Wildlife & Nature. The Sony World Photography Awards have multiple divisions for awards. This year's student and youth shortlist was announced in January. The open competition, which recognizes single images (the professional division is for a series of photographs), is set to announce that category's finalists and shortlist in March. Eagle-eyed readers may recall the awards ran into some controversy last year when first place in the creative open category was awarded to an AI-generated image. Its creator, German artist Boris Eldagsen, disclosed that fact when he refused his prize. Once all division finalists have been announced, the final winners for each category will be selected on April 19, 2024. An overall winner for Photographer of the Year 2024 will also be chosen from the professional finalists and be awarded $25,000, Sony equipment and a solo showing of their work as part of next year’s awards exhibition. The following day a selection of winning and shortlisted works will be part of a traveling exhibition that kicks off in London on April 19, 2024. "The jury was captivated by the passionate storytelling; capturing both the joys and the challenges of human existence across our planet," Chair of the Jury Monica Allende said regarding the professional entries. We've gathered the finalists in each category; take a look. Siobhán Doran, Ireland, Architecture & Design, finalist Gaston Ancestral House, Philippines. From the series "Sala Mayor (Living Room)." Artist statement: This series is part of a book project, "Houses that Sugar Built: An Intimate Portrait of Philippine Ancestral Homes," for which I was granted access to these historic mansions. I largely set about photographing the houses against a spoken ‘backdrop’, as my colleague interviewed the owner or custodian, but sometimes worked in complete silence. The sala mayor (main living room) typically showcases the character of the architecture and the lifestyle of the people, but also leaves room for the viewer’s interpretation of these unique residences. Yaser Mohamad Khani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Architecture & Design, finalist Untitled. From the series "Tehran Campus Town." Artist statement: In recent years, due to population growth and lack of sufficient housing, the towns near Tehran have been crowded and people have to migrate here. Karol Pałka, Poland, Architecture & Design, finalist A spa of national importance in Slovakia. From the series "Spa Island." Artist statement: Although it is small in size, the country of Slovakia is rich in springs of natural healing water. Spa culture has been a part of the Slovakian lifestyle for hundreds of years, and has become part of a secular ritual for some. In 1947 a special balneological congress decided to divide the approximately 50 Slovak spa localities into three categories of importance: international importance, national importance and local importance. This project examines the ways in which the architecture of spas allows those establishments to be spaces of ritual and community. Mackenzie Calle, United States, Creative, finalist The gravesite of Franklin Kameny at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. Kameny was an astronomer in the U.S. Army who hoped to one day go into space. He was also one of thousands of homosexual federal employees fired under the Lavender Scare in the mid-twentieth century. From the series "The Gay Space Agency." Artist statement: From the late 1950s, astronauts on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were required to take two heterosexuality tests, and in 1994, NASA asked ‘to include homosexuality as a psychiatrically disqualifying condition’ for astronauts. The psychiatric team protested, but NASA insisted. A 2022 study found that LGBTQ+ astronauts felt that being out may ‘hurt their chances of getting a [Space Shuttle] flight’ and, to date, NASA has never selected or flown an openly LGBTQ+ astronaut. The Gay Space Agency confronts the exclusion of openly queer astronauts. The series offers a queer counter-narrative to the history that has prevented the LGBTQ+ community from flying and imagines a more accepting future. To bridge the diversity gap and work towards a more inclusive future, this project envisions queer people in space. By traversing its edges, we can imagine a world that is not limited by anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. The Gay Space Ag

Feb 29, 2024 - 04:50
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World Photography Organisation announces professional finalists for Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Sony World Photography Awards finalists

The World Photography Organization has announced the professional category finalists and shortlisted photographers for the Sony World Photography Awards 2024.

This year over 395,000 images from more than 220 countries and territories were submitted to professional categories, a new record for the 17-year-old competition.

Organizers have whittled those entries down to three finalists and an assortment of shortlisted images in each of 10 categories: Architecture & Design, Creative, Documentary Projects, Environment, Landscape, Portfolio, Portraiture, Sport, Still Life and Wildlife & Nature.

The Sony World Photography Awards have multiple divisions for awards. This year's student and youth shortlist was announced in January. The open competition, which recognizes single images (the professional division is for a series of photographs), is set to announce that category's finalists and shortlist in March.

Eagle-eyed readers may recall the awards ran into some controversy last year when first place in the creative open category was awarded to an AI-generated image. Its creator, German artist Boris Eldagsen, disclosed that fact when he refused his prize.

Once all division finalists have been announced, the final winners for each category will be selected on April 19, 2024. An overall winner for Photographer of the Year 2024 will also be chosen from the professional finalists and be awarded $25,000, Sony equipment and a solo showing of their work as part of next year’s awards exhibition.

The following day a selection of winning and shortlisted works will be part of a traveling exhibition that kicks off in London on April 19, 2024.

"The jury was captivated by the passionate storytelling; capturing both the joys and the challenges of human existence across our planet," Chair of the Jury Monica Allende said regarding the professional entries.

We've gathered the finalists in each category; take a look.

Siobhán Doran, Ireland, Architecture & Design, finalist

Gaston Ancestral House, Philippines. From the series "Sala Mayor (Living Room)."

Artist statement: This series is part of a book project, "Houses that Sugar Built: An Intimate Portrait of Philippine Ancestral Homes," for which I was granted access to these historic mansions. I largely set about photographing the houses against a spoken ‘backdrop’, as my colleague interviewed the owner or custodian, but sometimes worked in complete silence. The sala mayor (main living room) typically showcases the character of the architecture and the lifestyle of the people, but also leaves room for the viewer’s interpretation of these unique residences.

Yaser Mohamad Khani, Islamic Republic of Iran, Architecture & Design, finalist

Untitled. From the series "Tehran Campus Town."

Artist statement: In recent years, due to population growth and lack of sufficient housing, the towns near Tehran have been crowded and people have to migrate here.

Karol Pałka, Poland, Architecture & Design, finalist

A spa of national importance in Slovakia. From the series "Spa Island."

Artist statement: Although it is small in size, the country of Slovakia is rich in springs of natural healing water. Spa culture has been a part of the Slovakian lifestyle for hundreds of years, and has become part of a secular ritual for some. In 1947 a special balneological congress decided to divide the approximately 50 Slovak spa localities into three categories of importance: international importance, national importance and local importance. This project examines the ways in which the architecture of spas allows those establishments to be spaces of ritual and community.

Mackenzie Calle, United States, Creative, finalist

The gravesite of Franklin Kameny at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. Kameny was an astronomer in the U.S. Army who hoped to one day go into space. He was also one of thousands of homosexual federal employees fired under the Lavender Scare in the mid-twentieth century. From the series "The Gay Space Agency."

Artist statement: From the late 1950s, astronauts on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were required to take two heterosexuality tests, and in 1994, NASA asked ‘to include homosexuality as a psychiatrically disqualifying condition’ for astronauts. The psychiatric team protested, but NASA insisted. A 2022 study found that LGBTQ+ astronauts felt that being out may ‘hurt their chances of getting a [Space Shuttle] flight’ and, to date, NASA has never selected or flown an openly LGBTQ+ astronaut. The Gay Space Agency confronts the exclusion of openly queer astronauts. The series offers a queer counter-narrative to the history that has prevented the LGBTQ+ community from flying and imagines a more accepting future. To bridge the diversity gap and work towards a more inclusive future, this project envisions queer people in space. By traversing its edges, we can imagine a world that is not limited by anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. The Gay Space Agency asks what it truly means to have the ‘right stuff’.

Tine Poppe, Norway, Creative, finalist

Gerbera jamesonii. From the series "Gilded Lilies: Portraits of Cut Flowers."

Artist statement: Born and bred in industrial scale greenhouses, cut flowers have no contact with nature and generate high CO2 emissions. The Western world’s supply of cut flowers used to be derived from local greenhouses, but most of the flowers we buy in our stores today have been transported by planes or lorries from digitally run greenhouses around the world; Colombia, Ecuador and equatorial East Africa are currently the largest producers of cut flowers on the planet. The greenhouses contribute to high water use and chemical runoff, while the flowers can generate significant carbon emissions through their refrigeration and long-haul transportation – stems may be transported up to 9,600 km (6,000 miles) in refrigerated aeroplane holds. These cut flowers were bought at a local flower shop and photographed in front of prints of landscapes in my studio.

Sujata Setia, United Kingdom, Creative, finalist

मिट्टी के दायरे (Circles in Sand). My mother’s womb. It’s from there that I started witnessing the violence. I remember the sound the cement floor made when she was dragged by her hair across it. I was three. I have grown up learning that to be the only sound of music. From the series "A Thousand Cuts."

Artist statement: Derived from the ancient Asian form of torture of lingchi (known as ‘death by a thousand cuts’), A Thousand Cuts is an ongoing series of portraits and stories that present a photographic study of patterns of domestic abuse in the South Asian community. I have borrowed the metaphorical meaning of lingchi to showcase the cyclical nature of domestic abuse. The continuous act of chipping at the soul of the abused is expressed by making cuts on the portrait of the participant, while the prints are made on thin paper to depict the fragility of the subject’s existence. The final artwork is photographed in a tight crop to create a sense of suffocation and absence of room for movement.

Davide Monteleone, Italy, Documentary Projects, finalist

Shabara, Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the largest artisanal copper and cobalt mines in the region. Around 20,000 people work at the site, in shifts of 10,000 at a time. From the series "Critical Minerals - Geography of Energy."

Artist statement: Critical Minerals – Geography of Energy aims to investigate the exponential demand for the minerals necessary to achieve renewable energy goals. In the Democratic Republic of Congo I documented the condition and impact of cobalt mining, which is essential for the green energy transition. The environmental and human conditions of cobalt mining have been widely reported, and the mainstream narrative faithfully describes the devastating working conditions and problematic health, environmental and economic conditions that men, women and children are subjected to, directly or indirectly. This series underlines that the future of critical minerals lies not just in the depths of the earth, but in our collective commitment to creating a sustainable and equitable world. By weaving these threads into a compelling narrative, this project engages audiences in a broader conversation about the choices we make today and their profound implications for the sustainability of our planet.

Juliette Pavy, France, Documentary Projects, finalist

An archive photograph of Jytte Lyberth at the age of 14, when she had her IUD inserted. After a school medical check-up she went to hospital and was asked to take off her clothes. She was never told what was going to happen. A few months later she experienced severe pain from the coil and returned to hospital to have it removed. Since then, she has never been able to have children. From the series "Spiralkampagnen: Forced Contraception and Unintended Sterilisation of Greenlandic Women."

Artist statement: Between 1966 and 1975, Greenlandic Inuit women were the victims of an involuntary birth control programme known as the Spiralkampagnen (spiral campaign). Led by the Danish authorities, nearly 4,500 intrauterine devices (‘coils’) were implanted into Inuit women and girls, some as young as 12, many of whom say that the procedure was performed without their consent. This campaign was first revealed by a Danish podcast in spring 2022, and documents now prove that the authorities implemented the policy to reduce Inuit population growth. An official investigation has now been opened, which is set to conclude at the end of 2024.

Brent Stirton, South Africa, Documentary Projects, finalist

Lady Tina and Pretty Peter were previously jailed in Uganda for their trans lifestyle and experienced sexual assault. From the series "LGBTQIA Refugees: Fleeing Uganda."

Artist statement: In May 2023, Uganda criminalized same-sex conduct for those convicted of ‘aggravated homosexuality’, even though the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2023 violates some of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Uganda’s constitution. Uganda’s penal code already punishes same-sex conduct with life imprisonment, but the new law legislates on new crimes, such as the ‘promotion of homosexuality’; introduces the death penalty for several acts considered as ‘aggravated homosexuality’; and increases sentences for attempted same-sex conduct to 10 years. Anyone advocating for the rights of LGBT people now faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Many LGBTQIA people have been forced to flee the country, and are now in fragile safe houses in Kenya. I felt compelled to work on this, as these laws are a violation of human rights and an assault on democracy: people in the LGBTQIA community are entitled to the same consensual rights as all humans when it comes to love and intimacy.

Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni, Italy, Environment, finalist

Climate change is prompting Sicilian farmers to give up their land to host photovoltaic and agrovoltaic systems, potentially threatening food sovereignty. Elena Giorgianni, a naturopath and farmer, is resisting the trend by growing tropical fruits organically in the hills around Messina. Taking advantage of the new weather conditions and the demand for high-quality Italian tropical fruits, she is pioneering an approach that balances environmental sustainability with consumer preferences. From the series "Tropicalia."

Artists statement: Sicily was once Europe’s main wheat producer, but it now faces the challenges of being a climate frontier, dealing with issues such as rising temperatures, desertification, unpredictable rainfall patterns and flash floods. As a pioneer in Europe’s response to tropicalisation, Sicily serves as an example of the scenario that awaits the whole continent. This series consists of a series of human, scientific and agricultural stories that explore the emerging realities amidst ongoing climate change. It highlights the efforts of local universities to drive agricultural innovation, test weather-resistant organic crops and introduce new fertilizers tailored to desertified land. The story also follows the burgeoning weather-sensitive tropical fruit industry in Sicily, where farmers are transforming their crops into extensive mango, avocado and papaya plantations to turn the weather challenge into a new opportunity.

Mahé Elipe, France, Environment, finalist

For 12 years, the indigenous association led by Leocadia Utiz has been organizing a native corn seed fair. Farmers from participating communities are invited to exchange native seeds and forgotten indigenous knowledge. According to Mayan belief, Leocadia claims to be descended from corn. Together with her family, she ensures the protection of the forest by cultivating milpa. From the series "Echoes of the Hive."

Artist statement: The Melipona bee is a rare species that doesn’t have a sting. It is seen as sacred by the Maya people, and its honey is said to have miraculous properties. It also embodies the resistance of indigenous communities in the region of Los Chenes, nestled in southeast Mexico, against the ravages of agro-industry. In March 2023 and more recently at the end of January 2024, a tragic fate befell more than one hundred beekeepers: their Melipona bees were poisoned by fipronil, an insecticide that is banned in most countries, but is still permitted in Mexico. This tragedy left deep scars on the Mayas, whose survival is intertwined with the golden nectar of the Melipona. Like an unrelenting tide, intensive agriculture is swallowing the Yucatan Peninsula, pushing back millennia-old jungles and threatening ancient practices. These images reflect the unshakeable determination of the Mayans, through individual and collective resistance, to leave behind an untarnished legacy for future generations.

Maurizio Di Pietro, Italy, Environment, finalist

Professor Laura Gasco evaluates the effects of including Hermetia illucens flours in the diet of rainbow trout. The European Commission has allowed insect meals to be used in feed in aquaculture since 1 July 2017, having equated this protein source to that of poultry and pigs. From the series "Zero Hunger."

Artist statement: The aim of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2 is to create a world that is free of hunger by 2030 and focus on finding sustainable solutions to stop world hunger. Currently, the natural resources necessary for human survival are depleting due to climate change. Extreme weather, such as droughts and floods, have become more common and affect harvests, leading to less food for human consumption. However, breeding and eating insects is a sustainable practice that can help us reach our goal. Insects are rich in proteins and highly sustainable, with minimal environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water and soil consumption. As a result, researchers are studying the most sustainable and cost-effective ways to promote the use of insects as a food source for both people and animals.

Jim Fenwick, United Kingdom, Landscape, finalist

Trees standing against the backdrop of a night sky in Palermo, illuminated by the red glow from the wildfires. From the series "Wildfires of Palermo."

Artist statement: In September 2023 I arrived in Palermo, in the midst of a gripping environmental problem that was unfolding across Sicily. The canvas of the night sky had been transformed into a captivating tableau as the flames from ongoing wildfires painted a surreal and enchanting spectacle. The ethereal glow was a juxtaposition of beauty and devastation.

Eddo Hartmann, Netherlands, Landscape, finalist

An infrared image of the remains of an observation tower at Opytnoe Pole. This was the first testing ground at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, which was a large-scale facility used between 1949 and 1962 for atmospheric nuclear tests. From the series "The Sacrifice Zone."

Artist statement: This series explores a remote area of Kazakhstan known as ‘The Polygon’, which was once home to the Soviet Union’s major nuclear testing facilities. Between 1949 and 1989 more than 450 nuclear tests took place here, with little regard for their effect on the local people and environment. The full impact of radiation exposure was hidden for many years by the Soviet authorities and only became clear after the test site was closed in the early 1990s. The location is still heavily contaminated and can only be accessed in protective clothing. The images in this series were made using an infrared camera, which hints at a menace that is equally invisible to the human eye: the radiation resulting from the nuclear explosions. Plants that have absorbed radiation acquire a strange reddish-purple colour, which is how their toxicity – invisible to the naked eye – is revealed.

Fan Li, China, Landscape, finalist

An Atypical Chinese Landscape. From the series "An Atypical Chinese Landscape"

Artist statement: These scenes and objects–the result of human production and labor processes serving human survival and life–are now left on the earth and have become the landscape. Some of these landscapes have become construction waste, destroying the living environment and becoming permanent scars.

Aly Hazzaa, Egypt, Portfolio, finalist

Just as the traffic stalled in a street in Old Cairo, the reflection of a person appeared on a car window. I only had one chance to take this photograph before the cars started to move again. From the series "Quest for Coherence"

Artist statement: As a freelance photographer I try to be ready for my next assignment, keeping my eyes open and my reflexes fast. Nothing is better for this than practicing street photography. My routine is to walk along the streets of Cairo, documenting life as it unfolds around me, without any specific goal. My aim is to create a cohesive body of work from my explorations on the street, and I am particularly drawn to the interplay of colors, shapes and reflections. My fascination with people and the streets fuels my work.

Angelika Kollin, Estonia, Portfolio, finalist

Ongeziwe. This portrait was taken in Cape Town, South Africa. From the series "Parenthood."

Artist statement: The nucleus of one’s existence is rooted in family; each person inherently has parents. In our contemporary society, the concept of family has evolved and now integrates and embraces both traditional and new forms. No longer confined to a mere group of individuals sharing blood ties, I believe that family is increasingly becoming a feeling rather than a particular manifestation of form. My photographic exploration examines the myriad forms that a modern-day family can take, uniting them under common and universally sought human emotions: a sense of belonging, love and emotional intimacy.

Jorge Mónaco, Argentina, Portfolio, finalist

A portrait of an old Kazakh man in traditional dress. Due to globalization, young Kazakh people no longer wear these clothes. From the series "Portraits and Landscapes."

Artist statement: These images are part of various personal projects, some of which detach from the main body and function as independent pieces. My focus is on sincerity and authenticity, inviting the viewer to delve into the intimate stories of the protagonists. Additionally, some of my projects take place outdoors, providing sociological contexts that enrich the visual narrative. My goal is to create projects that shed light on the lives of people from minority groups, whether they are ethnic, religious or gender-related. Through my images, I aim to raise awareness and promote inclusion, offering a reflective perspective on human diversity. Within this collection are works belonging to an ongoing project that explores the ‘intermediate landscape’; environments situated between the urban and the natural, usually located on the outskirts of cities. These strips of territory typically appear ambiguous or undefined.

Drew Gardner, United Kingdom, Portraiture, finalist

A recreation of an original photograph of Harriet Tubman with her great-niece, Deanne Stanford Walz. Her costume was recreated specially for the photoshoot. From the series "Descendants of Black American Civil War Combatants."

Artist statement: This series recreates photographs of black American Civil War combatants with their descendants. The project was three years in the making, following comprehensive searches of archives for photographs of black American Civil War soldiers, where the identity of the person in the photograph could be verified. Working with genealogists from Wikitree’s U.S. Black Heritage Project, we traced the descendants of the Civil War combatants and brought them together from all over the United States to be photographed using a period 5x7-inch tintype process in an authentic daylight studio. The sitters had to stay perfectly still, which often meant using a neck brace for exposures of up to 40 seconds. The sitters wore custom, handmade costumes and sets were built especially; some of the props used were authentic Civil War items.

Valery Poshtarov, Bulgaria, Portraiture, finalist

Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, 2023. From the series "Father and Son."

Artist statement: In a world that is already growing apart, holding hands becomes a silent prayer – a way to come together again. While posing, fathers and sons hold hands for the first time in years, sometimes decades. It’s a powerful moment, often filled with hesitation or even resistance. This act of intimacy became the project’s main purpose, the photographs being just a mere testament to the long-unspoken love between the men. Spanning cultures, reaching corners of Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Serbia and Greece, this project has become a beacon of emotional expression and cultural preservation. It serves as a global stage, encouraging fathers and sons from around the world to join the act. By leaving the narratives behind, these portraits become open to interpretation and I invite viewers to add their own layers of meaning, making us all contributors to this evolving story of humanity.

Adali Schell, United States, Portraiture, finalist

Lily Abbitt, 19, and Zane Burrows, 20, embrace on the side of the road in Topanga Canyon, California. From the series "The First Car."

Artist statement: Growing up in Los Angeles, some of my earliest memories were made in the car. Specifically, my dad’s vintage 1980s Mercedes – which he converted to run on vegetable oil – acted as my respite. The hum of the engine, the tears in the leather interior and the sound of his burned CD’s accompanied my earliest understanding of L.A. I remember the sense of privacy that the car provided me, and how it enabled my looking. In 2022, I was commissioned by The New York Times to photograph my friends in their first cars. Having spent my final teenage years in isolation due to the pandemic, the car provided me with a space to come back into touch with my community and with L.A. The article, entitled Magic of Your First Car, was published in February 2023, and exhibited internationally at Les Rencontres d’Arles and the Museum of Warsaw in July 2023.

Angelika Jakob, Germany, Sport, finalist

Winner Josef Utzschneider, light-heavyweight champion of the German finger wrestling championship. From the series "Finger Wrestling in Bavaria."

Artist statement: Finger wrestling is an honest sport for real powerhouses. The rules are simple and there is hardly any trickery involved, as speed, good fingers and concentration are all that’s required. Everything is clear and simple: the strongest wins, and the best pulls everyone over the table...

Thomas Meurot, France, Sport, finalist

When you’re looking for surf in Iceland you take anything you can, big or small. Here, Samuel Redon enjoys the small surf. From the series "Kald Sòl (Cold Sun)"

Artist statement: Kald Sòl is a series I undertook while documenting a surf expedition in Iceland in the middle of winter, which resulted in my first documentary, with the same name. Documenting cold surfing has always appealed to me, so when I got the chance to do it, I jumped at the opportunity straight away. The black- and-white photographs reveal the cold, even when the sun is out.

Tommaso Pardini, Italy, Sport, finalist

Isma shows off his potential to the surfers in the line-up. From the series "Surf in Dakar."

Artist statement: The Senegalese surf scene is growing fast and I’ve been there to document the life of Ismaila Samb, a young, promising surfer who is aspiring to become a professional. The surfers here don’t have the best equipment, but though they surf with old surfboards and wetsuits, their passion is above everything. My mission was to help Isma gain visibility and international recognition. After my visit he travelled outside Africa for the first time and joined the Senegalese national team taking part in the World Surfing Games in El Salvador.

Peter Franck, Germany, Still life, finalist

Silent give and take. From the series "Still Like Art"

Artist statement: Everything in the pictures is arranged, down to the smallest detail. This meticulous arrangement stands in the highest possible contrast, here in black and white, to the infinite possibilities of association by the viewer. The sovereignty of interpretation is as individual as the society out of which these works are created. The photographs explore the elemental and expansive qualities of the medium, picturing a world aglow, one that feels known but is rarely seen. Photography’s past restrictions meet the unlimited possibility of its present and in constructing his photographic world he proves its existence.

Beth Galton, United States, Still life, finalist

London Plane Tree. Created in the artist's studio using daylight, this series consists of cast-off bark with manipulated printed self-portraits. From the series "London Plane Tree."

Artist statement: Our lives are built up, layer by layer around our core selves. Belief systems, memories and opinions define who we are. But underneath these layers, what remains? As an artist and a person finding themselves in the later part of life, it has become essential for me to reevaluate and prioritize how I move through the world. Peeling back layers and looking for that original sense of self has become important. Walking to my studio, I pass a line of London Plane trees, and have noticed that they shed their bark. The tree is growing rapidly, and the bark is unable to expand as quickly as the tree enlarges. This fascinating process resonates with me. How do I shed preconceived constructs to make room for growth? How does this practice expose my vulnerabilities? To answer these questions, I created this photographic series, which consists of cast-off bark with manipulated self-portraits, connecting my exploration with nature.

Federico Scarchilli, Italy, Still life, finalist

Angelica has been used in traditional medicine to treat multiple health conditions. It is thought to contain various bioactive ingredients that may have antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have also studied Angelica’s potential anticancer effects in a lab, testing Angelica archangelica extract on breast cancer cells. They found that Angelica may help cause breast cancer cell death, leading researchers to conclude that the herb may have antitumor potential. From the series "Flora."

Artist statement: Plants are among the main suppliers of medicinal substances and should be considered as the producers and dynamic containers of chemical substances. In their evolution they have developed innumerable secondary metabolites that perform various ecological functions for the plant, such as repellence, defence from herbivores, fighting against other plant species for resource control, defence from parasites and attraction to pollinators. These secondary metabolites have also shown important pharmacological activities in humans, which constitute the active ingredients or the main components on which the curative action of a drug depends; in fact, 40 percent of monomolecular drugs derive from plant species. This series highlights the important role of pharmacognosy in modern biology.

Eva Berler, Greece, Wildlife and Nature, finalist

The artist describes the worlds hidden in spider webs as a metaphor for our private inner selves, of our deepest fears and aspirations. From the series "Suspended worlds."

Artist statement: This project started as an exploration of the world of spider webs, where both time and action are frozen, but it led to a personal journey into my deepest fears and aspirations. As I focused on what was hidden in the webs I became fascinated by the artful random creations that I found; the impermanent worlds that we don’t usually notice. I realized that these worlds resonate with me on a deeper level. They work as metaphors for the hidden lives of the people next to us, who we pass by every day and don’t really know anything about. We all have our private lives that we prefer to keep to ourselves; our personal mystic treasures, our inner selves. These are the innermost places where we can be whatever we choose to be.

Jasper Doest, Netherlands, Wildlife and Nature, finalist

Elephants charge through Livingstone’s narrow streets, their towering figures trumpeting into the night. Altered habitats mean they emerge from the national park at dusk to seek food within Livingstone. A nighttime curfew, urging the community to stay indoors, aims to reduce human-wildlife conflict. From the series "In the Footsteps of Giants."

Artist statement: The delicate equilibrium between humans and elephants in rural parts of Zambia is being disturbed as both populations vie for limited resources. The expansion of settlements and unsustainable agriculture is encroaching on elephant habitats, jeopardizing the well-being of both human livelihoods and the elephant population. The question arises: can humans and elephants coexist? These problems have been escalating in the past decade, and with the expectation of increased droughts due to our warming climate, establishing transfrontier wildlife corridors becomes essential. However, the establishment of these corridors faces challenges posed by settlements, agriculture and infrastructure, which results in daily human-wildlife conflict. As these persistent issues continue it is increasingly evident that the local community plays a vital role in fostering a harmonious coexistence between humans and elephants. Developing economically and socially viable models for coexistence within the local community will be crucial for the long-term survival of both elephants and humans.

Haider Khan, India, Wildlife and Nature, finalist

Rhinos with injured horns suffer from pain, infections and a reduced ability to defend themselves. As poaching and habitat loss continue to threaten their survival, rhino conservation efforts attempt to stop them from being killed. From the series "King Without a Throne: Poached or Dehorned."

Artist statement: The persistent human desire for rhino horn – for everything from traditional medicines to hangover cures or status symbols – drives the slaughter of more than 1,000 of these majestic animals each year in South Africa. To protect them from poachers, some rhinos are now deliberately dehorned, something that is considered a necessary evil by anti-poaching campaigners in Africa. However, while cutting off a rhino’s horn prevents poaching, it also changes their behavior and affects their ability to interact or establish territory. Either way, they are the ones that suffer. With this series I want to share the painful story of two rhinos, one living in Munich, Germany, and the other in Kolkata, India. Despite being separated by thousands of miles, these beautiful creatures have a shared past: both of them have been stripped of their once-proud horn, symbolizing the harm that humans can inflict upon wildlife.

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