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April 2008
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Sony World Photography Awards at Cannes

The first SONY World Photography Awards were presented in the late April sunshine of Cannes, to what must have been an exclusive gala dinner audience – at €250 a head, our ‘man on the spot’ Thomas Goseberg decided against the opportunity to take his wife out for a quiet meal…

Sony world photo banner

Instead, Thomas visited the exhibition and sent in some photographs of the setting, which we will follow with Sony’s released winners.

The exhibition centre in Cannes

“The exhibition itself was in ‘La Rotonde Riviera’, a round building just behind the Palais des Festivals”, Thomas writes. “It’s a bit off the main stream of tourists, but it seems it was well visited on Friday afternoon. I didn’t see many people with a DSLR, I remember one guy walking around with a Canon D-whatever. The atmosphere was quite sober. Like a factory that had quickly been turned into a museum. No nice carpets or so.”

There was also a pyramid structure close by:

Sony pyramide

“The pyramid was really just something to catch attention to those who pass by. It was clearly there to promote Sony cameras. It was built just opposite the famous stairs, at a place where zillions of tourists pass by. Also, if I understood correctly, Sony rented the Palais des Festivals only for Thursday evening, for the ceremony (and the Gala Dinner). At least they had that huge advertising space just above the stairs, which is maybe 8 x 20 meters or so, pretty big. I got a quick and friendly reply from Sony when I enquired about attending the dinner…

“I walked around in the pyramid, and nobody took attention of me. The staff seemed to be French. I don’t know if anybody from HQ was there (maybe just for the ceremony on Thursday).”

Exhibition exterior

“The real important point IMHO is the clear separation between content and equipment. There were only a few Sony signs in the exhibiton and they were far from the photos. The photos were presented on their own, just accompanied by some words of the photographer. No mentioning which camera, lens or settings had been used.

Inside the exhibition

“Sony really tried to put the emphasis on the pictures. Only bad point, they were quite small and most of them would have merited to be printed much larger. In the center of the exhibition there was a space with famous (I guess) photographs . From the 60s and 70s, so I’d say not related to Sony, but just for the pleasure of looking.

“In one ‘corner’ of the round builing, there was a stand with a few leaflets – a single A700 with 85/1.4 was presented, plus a few ultracompact CyberShots, plus an LCD showing the bubble-foam event in Miami. That’s all you could see about Sony in the exhibition. No further lenses, flagship teasers or A200/300/350s.

“I think Sony really tried to stay behind and works on becoming recognized as a photo-company, as opposed to a camera-company.”

Our thanks to Thomas for providing his photos and thoughts – he wrote an account on dPreview in ‘real time’ after visiting Cannes (a short journey for him).

Here is, with some editing, the release from Sony:

The $25,000 cash prize was won by a British photographer, Vanessa Winship, along with the title ‘Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year’. Her entry in the Portraiture category beat thousands of submissions to win the esteemed title (I just edited out ‘coveted’ title from the earlier bit – why can’t these people employ writers without a bag of superlatives and needless adjectives? – Ed).
The final decision was made just hours before the ceremony by the Honorary Board, some of the industry’s highest regarded members including Nan Goldin, Bruce Davidson, Tom Stoddart, Elliott Erwitt and Martine Franck. Over the past weeks they have been deliberating upon the professional photographers’ shortlist, chosen by the World Photographic Academy, and had a final meeting the day of the Awards to agree their decision.

Sweet Nothings

Vanessa Winship – ‘Sweet Nothings’ – Eastern Turkey

Vanessa Winship said: “Many, many thanks, and these are actually for the little girls of Eastern Turkey.”
Vanessa received her award from Honorary Board Member Elliott Erwitt at the Palais des Festivals in front of an audience of 700 VIPs and industry leaders. The eleven professional category winners spanning eight countries also collected their awards.

Arup Ghosh winning amateur pic

Arup Ghosh’s winning amateur image

Arup Ghosh, the overall amateur winner was applauded by the audience though was unfortunately unable to attend the ceremony. Phil Stern was awarded the Legacy award for his outstanding contribution to the industry. He said on receiving the award, “It is very flattering to have been chosen to receive this award. May I thank everyone who made this decision, and long may the awards continue.”
The Awards ceremony is the finale in a series of events in Cannes over the last few days, based on the theme of ‘Legacy’. Focusing on the past, present and future of photography, this has included the Sony Legacy Exhibition, curated by Magnum Photos; a photography summit to discuss the latest industry issues; and ‘University Shoot Out’, a student initiative to support the future generation of photographers.
James Kennedy, General Manager Marketing Communications, Sony Digital Imaging Europe said, “The Awards really are a showcase for the photographic industry at its highest level. It has been wonderful to be part of an event that brings together such phenomenal talent.”
Founder of World Photography Awards Scott Gray added, “This event is the culmination of what has been a fantastic first year for the Sony World Photography Awards. We thank everyone who entered and look forward to the second year already.”

Professional Category Winners

  • Abstract – Anita Cruz-Eberhard (UNITED STATES
  • Advertising – Fabrizio Cestari (ITALY)
  • Architectural – Livia Corona (MEXICO)
  • Fashion – Valeska Achenbach & Isabela Pacini (GERMANY)
  • Music/Performance – Eduard Meltzer (SWITZERLAND)
  • Nature – Giacomo Brunelli (ITALY)
  • Nude – Natalie Bothur – (GERMANY)
  • Photojournalism/Documentary – Moises Saman (UNITED STATES)
  • Portraiture – Vanessa Winship (UNITED KINGDOM)
  • Science – Thomas Deerinck (UNITED STATES)
  • Sport – Robin Utrecht (NETHERLANDS)

For further information and images from the Sony World Photography Awards, please visit:

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