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British photographers dominate the Landscape category at the acclaimed 2019 Sony World Photography Awards claiming all top three positions

Press release   •   Apr 17, 2019 23:00 BST

  • Yan Wang Preston, Marco Kesseler, and Kieran Dodds awarded top three positions in the Landscape category, while Edward Thompson awarded 3rd Place in the Brief category
  • Overall and Professional category finalists also announced at London awards ceremony
  • 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House from April 18-May 6
  • All images available at www.worldphoto.org/press

The World Photography Organisation today names four British artists in the top three of their categories at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards. Yan Wang Preston has won the Professional Landscape category, followed by Marco Kesseler in 2nd Place and Kieran Dodds in 3rd Place in the same category. Additionally, Edward Thompson was awarded 3rd Place in the Professional Brief category.

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. These prestigious 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.

All the Awards’ winning and shortlisted work, including the British winners announced today, will go on show at 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London from April 18 - May 6, before going on a global tour.

  • Yan Wang Preston - 1st Place, Landscape category, for series To the South of the Colourful Clouds

Preston’s series illustrates an “otherworldly” ecology recovery landscape in Haidong Development Zone in Dali, Yunnan Province, China. The series, which is part of an eight-year project, provides viewers with an insight into the conversion of a rural stretch of land to an international leisure town. The vibrant colours visible in the landscape are a result of semi-artificial soil that forms the base for non-indigenous plants, including many mature trees.

Preston is a multi-award winning British-Chinese artist based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, with an interest in nature and contemporary societies. The photographer has exhibited her work widely including at the Venice Biennale and the Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum. Preston received a PhD in Photography from the University of Plymouth in 2018, and now lectures photography at the University of Huddersfield, UK.

Judge Erin Barnett (Director of Exhibitions and Collections, International Center of Photography, USA) explains why Preston’s work deserved to win the category: “I think the judges and I were really intrigued by this project because it does stretch the boundaries of landscape. Yan was really smart in taking this really political and ecological story and submitting it into the Landscape category."

Speaking of her win, Preston explains “I'm thrilled to win the landscape category of Sony World Photography Awards 2019. With this amazing platform, my work will join and contribute to the international debates in relevant fields. It is really a fantastic way to start 2019!”

  • Marco Kesseler- 2nd Place, Landscape category for series 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. The photographer’s series Polytunnel examines the hidden landscapes and spaces where our food is produced. “In the polytunnel, the seasons are stretched and softened within a polythene skin, creating its own cosmos. In these unseen spaces, nature vies for territory within a man-made colony.” Kessler explains.

Judge, Isabella van Marle (Head of Exhibitor Relations, Unseen, The Netherlands) discusses Kesseler’s series: “This is a very unique approach to the category of Landscape. The work is created on such a small scale, which you probably wouldn’t expect with landscape, making it quite interesting. I really love how there is some kind of presence of humans here, but also the absence - with the gloves. The series has something mysterious about it.”

  • Kieran Dodds - 3rd Place, Landscape category for series Hierotopia

Dodds’ has been awarded 3rd Place in the Landscape category for his series Hierotopia. The series raises awareness to the environmental issue of deforestation in Ethiopia, Africa. From an aerial perspective, Dodds captures the rare clusters of land that are preserved in the country surrounding the Tewahedo Orthodox churches, which are protected as tenets of faith.

“The country’s population will double in the next 30 years, further pressurising these natural treasures. Thousands of forest fragments exist across Northern Ethiopia - green islands of biodiversity in an expanding sea of agriculture - but a mere fraction are viable. Incremental erosion from grazing and subsistence agriculture is destructive: thinned forest edges kill the canopy from the outside in.”

Judge, Erin Barnett (Director of Exhibitions and Collections, International Center of Photography, USA) explains what stood out about this series within the category: “This was a really innovative use of a drone. You can’t imagine these images being shot from a different angle and having the same importance. When you think of a typical landscape photo they are horizontal, however, these are fascinating for the reason that they are taken by drone. What is also really interesting is the interplay of religion, ecology and politics in these works.”

  • Edward Thompson - 3rd Place, Brief category for series In the Garden of England

The Brief category asked the professional photographers to respond to the theme of ‘Identity’ with a series of interesting photographs. Thompson’s series follows a narrative of everyday English life, specifically focusing on the South East of England. The series has been ongoing for over eighteen years, and targets themes of nostalgia, class and what Thompson describes as the “beautiful uncanny everyday English life”.

Thompson’s work has been published in international magazines from National Geographic Magazine to The Guardian Weekend. He also appears on major broadcast outlets as a photography commentator.

Judge, Emma Lewis (Assistant Curator, Tate, UK) speaks of Thompson’s series: “This was a very interesting response to the idea of identity, because it is identity through a sense of place. What really stood out about this project is that it was a very tender and affectionate look at the South East of England. This was shot over a period of 18 years, and you can tell that the photographer has made a very careful selection of a mixture of different types of images including portraits of people and landscapes,that all together give you a really astute sense of what this region is really about.”

Professional prizes

All Professional category winners receive Sony Digital Equipment and attended the London awards ceremony. Category winners and finalists’ works feature in the winners’ book, and are included in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London before going on a global tour.

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

Upon winning the Award which includes a $25,000 (USD) prize, Borella said “This Award is one of the most important things for my career and my life. This kind of visibility is amazing because it allows me and my work to reach a global audience. It is a 'golden ticket' that happens once in a lifetime. I feel a huge responsibility because I have been able to witness and record this situation as a photojournalist. This award is proof to my subjects that they can trust me - and for my profession this is fundamental.”

The news follows on from March’s Professional shortlist announcement, where fellow British photographers Catherine Hyland was shortlisted in the Landscape category, and Allan Dransfield was shortlistedin the Creative category. It also follows on from the February announcement of 2019’s ten Open competition category winners and 62 National Awards winners, to complete the announcements of 2019’s awards. For more details visit https://www.worldphoto.org/galleries

For further information please contact:
Press team, World Photography Organisation press@worldphoto.org / +44 (0) 20 7886 3043 / 3049

Notes to EditorsAll winning and shortlisted images are available to download for publication at www.worldphoto.org/press

To see the full list of winners announced today please go to https://www.worldphoto.org/galleries

About World Photography Organisation
The World Photography Organisation is a global platform for photography initiatives. Working across up to 180 countries, our aim is to raise the level of conversation around photography by celebrating the best imagery and photographers on the planet. We pride ourselves on building lasting relationships with both individual photographers as well as our industry-leading partners around the world. The World Photography Organisation hosts a year-round portfolio of events including the Sony World Photography Awards, one of the world’s leading photography competitions, and PHOTOFAIRS, leading international art fairs dedicated to photography.For more details see www.worldphoto.org

About Sony Corporation
Sony 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: http://www.sony.net/

Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. is 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.

About Sony Corporation

Sony 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 Web Site: http://www.sony.net/