Incredible Amateur Sony World Photo Award Winners Make the Real World Seem Magical

By Gerald Lynch on at

That DSLR you got for Christmas gathering dust? Sulking that it takes pro-level skills to take a great shot? Then you need to take a look at some of the winners from this year's Sony World Photo Awards. Though there's a category dedicated to professional photographers, the Sony World Photo Awards also has areas open to submission from anyone. And some of the 173,444 entries, sent in from 171 countries around the globe, will astound you.

Kicking off proceedings are a selection of the 2015 Open Competition winners, an amatuer class that pushes the definition of the word "amateur" to the limits:

Saleh Rozat, Iran — 'Don Bohlul from Isfahan'

“This photo is taken in front of the old Karls church in downtown Vienna, and depicts a fictional person, Don Bohlul, the Don Quixote of the Orient. Once upon a time in the old city of Esfahan, Don Bohlul was going through the Bazar as he saw the picture of a beautiful blonde Western woman on a soup box. He fell in love with her, sold his horse, and traveled to Vienna in pursuit to find her. In Vienna he was then amazed and wondered…”
—Saleh Rozati

Nick Ng Yeow Kee, Malaysia — 'Early Dawn'

“‘Early Dawn’ was taken while I was walking along Old Kolkata. Seeing the locals entering an old abandoned shophouse along a row of old buildings, I decided to venture in. The shophouse was an amazing spectacle, with streams of people taking their turns washing themselves as well as their clothes.”
—Nick Ng Yeow Kee

Héctor Muñoz Huerta, Mexico — 'Quetzalcoatl'

“Last year I was heading downtown and found these graffiti artists working on a large mural which I had spotted a few days before. These boys are very talented and have been replacing ugly, tag-patched walls with murals in the surroundings of the San Gregorio neighborhood for some years.”
—Héctor Muñoz Huerta

Antoine Weis, Switzerland — 'Wildlife in the city'

“The image depicts a gray pelican in front of a city skyline element. The shot was taken in Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka) at the end of a three-week trip through the island’s national parks and rainforests.”
—Antoine Weis

Norman Quinn, UK — 'Perfect Symmetry'

“The two great yellow-painted gantry cranes Samson and Goliath have become icons of Belfast, dominating not just Queen’s Island but the entire city skyline. The image itself was taken during sunrise on a particularly wet day by lying flat in a puddle as low as possible to the ground.”
—Norman Quinn

Wilson Lee, Hong Kong — 'Happiness'

“Simplicity is happiness. I took this photo at a train station in Jaipur when I was traveling in India last year. Wandering around the platform, I attempted to capture the atmosphere before the train’s departure.”
—Wilson Lee

Armin Appel, Germany — 'Schoolyard'

“I took this image while paragliding over Räumliches Bildungszentrum, in Biberach an der Riss. I took five flights between 2013–2014 trying to get the perfect shot, with perfect contrast and shadows, until I finally got it this morning in May 2014.”
—Armin Appel

Jaime Massieu Marcos, Spain — 'Suspended animation'

“I had been working 17 days in a row making a video of the Basketball World Cup in Madrid, so I only had my wide-angle lens for the video. Luckily, I saw a guy I knew with a 70-200 lens. I asked him if I could borrow the lens, and all I had to do was press the button.”
—Jaime Massieu Marcos

Yasen Georgiev, Bulgaria — 'Winter dream'

“I was on a skiing holiday with friends in Borovets. The last night before we left I was looking out of my hotel room and dreaming of staying few more days. That’s how I made this amazing landscape, which truly illustrates my winter dream.”
—Yasen Georgiev

Antony Crossfield, UK — 'Bomb'

“This image was intended to undermine stereotypes of masculine strength and power. The bomb dive — a metaphor of power and destruction — is revealed as ineffectual and pointless posturing, a tiny gesture in the face of wider forces.”
—Antony Crossfield

Sony also offered up awards for the best mobile photographers. If you've looked at those "Shot on iPhone" posters going up everywhere and thought "nah, gotta be faked," then, well, check these out below. In the right hands, it seems even a smartphone camera can pull off some magic shots. Here's a look at some of the 2015 Mobile Phone Award winners:

Turi Calafato, Italy — 'A day on the beach'

“This image was taken in Sicily. It is usual to see scenes like this because people spend all day long at the beach — and all the usual activities, like playing, eating, sleeping, etc., are done outdoors.”

—Turi Calafato

Ako Salemi, Iran — 'Fighting'

Janos M Schmidt, Hungary — 'Nyugati'

“Sunset at Nyugati railway station, Budapest. A man is watching the timetable at the deserted platform of Nyugati station right after the departure of the train carrying the Hungarian fans to the Romania-Hungary football match in Bucharest. The sunset is seen through the smoke of the firecrackers exploded by the fans.”
—Janos M. Schmidt

And if the mobile shots didn't make you feel inferior enough, here are a few photos chosen from the 2015 Youth Competition winners:

Beatriz Mota da Rocha, 15, Portugal — 'Cante Alentejo'

“This photo was taken in the theatre of Évora (Italian style theatre) — Teatro Garcia de Resende — and is part of a photo series on the group Cante Alentejano of Évora. Cante Alentejano and Évora, two aspects of a common memory, intangible and material world heritage riches, in a single image.”
—Beatriz Rocha

Stephanie Anjo, 14, UK — 'Mellow Memories'

“A candid of my little cousin in her happiest state. (Flowers are not edited.)”
—Stephanie Anjo

Yong Lin Tan, 19, Malaysia — 'Back alley'

“This is the back alley of my grandmother’s house in Alor Setar, Kedah,
Malaysia. I shot this during Chinese New Year last year when the sky is the
clearest and brightest with stars.”
—Yong Lin Tan

Head over to the World Photography Organisation website for a full look at the many fantastic shortlisted photos, as well as a chance to look at some of the professional efforts, too. There's also a showcase exhibition taking place at London's Somerset House if you'd rather see the snaps in the flesh. It runs between April 24th and May 10th. [Worldphoto.org]