The overall winners for the 2021 Sony World Photography Awards will be announced next month, but in the meantime feast your eyes on this mouth-watering hors d’oeuvre from the organisers – category winners and shortlisted entries in the open competition.
Anyone, of any ability, can enter from across the world – so amateurs compete with professionals. This makes it all the more intriguing.
Though for the judges it represents surely an almighty headache – because the standard is sky-high.
The categories are street photography, architecture, creative, landscape, lifestyle, motion, natural world and wildlife, object, portraiture, and travel – and here we present our pick of the dozens of judge-wowing images.
The MailOnline Travel selection includes a striking image of lightning over a Spanish lavender field, a bewitching picture of the Austrian village they say inspired Frozen’s Arendelle and an amazing picture of shepherds with their flocks marching through Poland.
Scroll down to see these and 16 other sensational open competition snaps.
An electrifying image of a lightning storm above a solitary tree in a lavender field in the province of Guadalajara, Spain. It was taken by Spanish photographer Juan Lopez Ruiz and it earned him gold in the landscape category. It’s also MailOnline Travel’s pick of a very special bunch
A breathtaking image of 24,790ft/7,556m-high Mount Gongga in Sichuan province, China – with a lone horserider in the foreground. The image is called Alone and it was taken by Chinese photographer Jinjing Lyu and shortlisted in the landscape category
LEFT: A mesmerising picture by German Franz Sußbauer of a view over Austria’s Lake Hallstatt towards the town of Hallstatt, taken on a moody, rainy summer day. It is shortlisted in the travel category. Hallstatt is rumoured to be an inspiration for fairytale kingdom Arendelle in Disney’s Frozen films. RIGHT: A striking image by Estonian photographer Mati Puum of a young long-eared owl crying out to his mother. It is shortlisted in the natural world and wildlife category
This beautiful image is shortlisted in the travel category and was taken by Norwegian photographer Rune Mattsson. He said: ‘On a trip along the coastal highway in northern Norway, I found this old boathouse in Gildeskal. It was a beautiful autumn day, with great light and reflections’
LEFT: Hiroki Nose submitted this stunning image and has been rewarded with shortlisted status in the travel category. The Japanese photographer said of the picture: ‘This is Mount Fuji in winter, as seen from Hakone. I wanted to make an image that appeared almost to be a watercolour painting, which is why I chose to visit on a cloudy day.’ RIGHT: Croatian photographer Marijo Maduna is behind this gem, which captures a young girl showing off her diving skills with a poetic leap from a cliff on the island of Lokrum in Croatia. The judges verdict? ‘Motion’ category winner
The street photography category is blessed with Pole Bartłomiej Jurecki’s shortlisted entry, which shows an annual Polish shepherd’s march. Jurecki said: ‘Redyk is a traditional annual march of shepherds with their sheep. Each summer, the sheep are taken high up into the mountains to graze for a few months. In October, they return to the villages for winter – an event that is much celebrated. Shepherds lead the flock through the villages, while locals welcome them with music and cheering. Despite the traffic problems it causes, everybody is happy to see them. During the summer grazing, the shepherds sleep in small wooden houses without electricity or running water. All they have is what nature provides’
The street photography category winner is this striking picture by Turkish photographer F. Dilek Uyar of a train being disinfected in Ankara
An incredible image of 2020’s Storm Ciara whipping up the waters off Newhaven, East Sussex, into a frenzy. It was taken by Briton Daniel Portch and is shortlisted in the motion category
Cristo Pihlamae from Estonia snares gold in the natural world and wildlife category thanks to this joyful picture of a hare sticking its tongue out
LEFT: Norwegian photographer Hans Kristian Strand submitted this photo with the simple description: ‘A magical night.’ It’s shortlisted in the landscape category. RIGHT: Comet Neowise streaks over Stonehenge in this amazing shortlisted landscape image by Briton James Rushforth. He said: ‘It’s fascinating to think that this historic site did not even exist when Neowise last passed the Earth. The comet is due to return in approximately 6,800 years. I wonder if the stones will still be standing then. This is a single-exposure photograph taken early on the morning of July 20 . The orange glow is light pollution from the nearby villages of Durrington and Larkhill, and a passing lorry very kindly painted the rocks with light’
This bewitching picture of an ezo red fox is by Japanese photographer Yuta Doto and is shortlisted in the natural world and wildlife category. Doto said: ‘Taken in Biei, on the island of Hokkaido, I focused on the point at which the fox was likely to appear in the dusk’
A Portrait of Labour is the title of this stunning shortlisted entry in the portraiture category, taken by Indian photographer Shirsendu Banerjee
‘I photographed this ant looking through an autumn leaf in a forest near my home,’ said Dutch photographer Alex Pansier of this incredible image, shortlisted in the natural world and wildlife category and called ‘Hello World’
Hersley-Ven Casero, from the Philippines, entered this brilliant shot, with the judges wowed enough to shortlist it in the motion category. Casero said of the image: ‘A group of friends cool off by leaping from the seawall into the ocean at Bantayan Beach, Dumaguete City. I regularly pass by this spot on the lookout for a good shot, as it’s a popular hangout for these active and fearless local kids’
This mesmerising and slightly surreal image, shortlisted in the street photography category, was taken by Indonesian photographer Ares Jonekson, who called it Night in Pandemic Time. Jonekson said of the picture: ‘Taken at the Pondok Ranggon Cemetery, Jakarta, late one afternoon. The funeral officers were having a break, watching videos on their smartphones and chatting with their families’
‘The spirit of youth prevails, even in difficult times.’ That’s how Israeli photographer Dina Alfasi describes this shortlisted street photography shot of hers, titled Love in the Time of Corona