Italian artist Federico Borella has been named Photographer of the Year in the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards for his series Five Degrees which focuses on male suicide in the farming community of Tamil Nadu, Southern India, an area facing its worst drought in 140 years.
Announced last night at a ceremony in London, Borella's work was praised by the jury for its sensitivity, technical excellence and artistry in bringing to light a global concern.
Based on a Berkeley University study, which found a correlation between climate change and increased suicide rates amongst Indian farmers, Borella explored the impact of climate change on this agricultural region and its community through poignant and powerful mixture of images depicting the farming landscape, mementoes of the deceased farmers, and portraits of those left behind.
Other winners announced include Open Photographer of the Year – Christy Lee Roger for Harmony, an image from the artist’s Muses series that was inspired by the beauty and vulnerability of humankind. In this shot, Rogers has used the contrasts of light, dark, colour, movement and cascading underwater bodies to create an ethereal scene reminiscent of Baroque painting.
Atlanta-based American student Zelle Westfall was awarded Youth Photographer of the Year for her image Abuot – a striking photograph in response to the theme diversity. "Abuot is my friend from school and she is one of the funniest people I know," explains Westfall. "In today's society, with skin bleaching products and colourism flooding the media, it's important to highlight the beauty of dark-skinned women who are often told that they are 'too dark.'"
Valencian student Sergi Villanueva, the Student Photographer of the Year, was chosen by the judges from submissions worldwide for his photographic series La Terreta, an evocative portrayal of his homeland through the local orange farming and harvesting process.
Outstanding Contribution to Photography went to Nadav Kander, one of the world’s foremost contemporary photographers, regarded as amongst the most successful of his generation. His works cover a wide variety of genres, from atmospheric landscapes to celebrity portraiture and the Awards recognise Kander for his versatile, powerful and thoughtful contribution to the medium.
Elsewhere, three British photographers dominated the Professional Landscape category – Yan Wang Preston won overall, followed by Marco Kesseler in second Place and Kieran Dodds in third. Additionally, Edward Thompson was awarded third place in the Professional Brief category.
All winning, shortlisted and commended images can be seen at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London from today until 6 May 2019 before going on a global tour. Find out more at www.worldphoto.org/2019exhibition.