The exhibition of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards is currently on at London’s Somerset House and, while I don’t usually use my blog to review exhibitions or publications, I just felt there was a little too much to say for one tweet…
As expected, the breadth of the concepts on show at the exhibition is considerable and should inspire any photographer to develop a new way of looking at the world…until you get to the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ category, that is. With so many important issues affecting our natural world to communicate through a powerful medium like photography with the backing of a global brand like Sony, I couldn’t help leaving the exhibition feeling let down. Not to take anything away from those photographers that brought us beautiful, amusing and striking studio portraits of chickens and flowers, the organisers simply need to think very carefully about what it is they want to achieve through this category. Quite simply, the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ selection fails to deliver insight into any real issues in the way that other categories do. The competition’s website does actually feature a shortlisted story on gorillas, proclaiming that the “series is about the gorillas, these apes losing their natural habitat”. Yet, rather disappointingly, the photo set turns out to be a bunch of close-ups of captive gorillas, expressed in black and white to presumably add some element of eloquence and poignancy. If this category is not meant to convey any serious message (or place any real importance on showing wild animals or places), the best move the organisers could make is to rename it something less assuming, like the ‘Animals and Plants’ category.
For all of these reasons, the greatest example of application in photographing wildlife and nature in its true form is in fact evident in the open competition, instead of amongst the professionals. Above and beyond creating a beautiful image, in taking his winning photograph Krasimir Matarov has actually bothered to take us out of the studio or zoo and into the wild, alien world of the spider.
But these are just my thoughts. The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition is at Somerset House until 12 May 2013. Why not see for yourself?