Alys Tomlinson Named Photographer of the Year in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards

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The World Photography Organisation has announced the winners of the Sony World Photography Awards 2018, and the Photographer of the Year title has gone to Alys Tomlinson with her series Ex-Voto.

Ex-Votos are offerings left by pilgrims as signs of gratitude and devotion, and Tomlinson’s work grew out of her interest in these markers. She shot the series at pilgrimage sites in Lourdes in France, Ballyvourney in Ireland and Grabarka in Poland, and it encompass formal portraiture, large format landscape photography, and small, detailed still lives of the objects and markers left behind.

Ex-Voto has garnered widespread attention, earning Tomlinson a spot on the shortlist for BJP’s International Photography Award and the 2017 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, and winning the Hotshoe Award/Renaissance Photography Prize. The SWPA judges praised the series for its beautiful production, technical excellence and sensitive illustration of pilgrimage as a journey of discovery and sacrifice, and winning the SWPA has won Tomlinson $25,000.

Untitled from the series ‘Ex-Voto’ © Alys Tomlinson

The SWPA Open Photographer of the Year award went to Bulgarian photographer Veselin Atanasov, a self-taught IT specialist who only began shooting in 2014, and who won with a photograph capturing Autumn in the Central Balkan National Park. Youth Photographer of the Year went to 16-year-old Megan Johnson, whose winning portrait was taken on the cliffs near her home in Connecticut, and Student Photographer of the Year is Samuel Bolduc, for his series The Burden.

The Outstanding Achievement to Photography Award went to Candida Höfer, one of the world’s foremost contemporary photographers. Ten photographers have also been selected as winners in a Professional category for their series of photographs, which range from insightful documentation of worldwide political and cultural events, to powerful images of the natural world.

Early Autumn © Veselin Atanasov

This year, the competition saw a record-breaking 32,000 submissions, with photographers hailing from more than 200 countries and territories. Each of the extraordinarily diverse works from the winners and shortlisted photographers will be available to view at the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House.

The 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition is on at Somerset House from 20th April – 6th May

Still © Megan Johnson
Fragmentation © Samuel Bolduc
The Burden © Samuel Bolduc
The Burden © Samuel Bolduc