Ustab Ahamed Akash's The Honey Collector is a black-and-white portrait of a beekeeper in Bangladesh, the photographer's homeland. "The honey collectors collect in winter," he says of his image, which won the Lifestyle category in the Sony World Photography Awards 2022's Open Competition.
"They place the bees' nests near the mustard field as they can produce more honey that way."
It's a typical countryside scene in Bangladesh, but one that makes for a poignant portrait that won amid more than 170,000 entries submitted from all over the world for the World Photography Organisation's competition.
It recognises the best single shots from 2021 and more than 100 photographers were shortlisted, alongside the 10 winners, including Akash. Each winner receives digital imaging equipment from Sony and will go on to compete for the prestigious Open Photographer of the Year title and a $5,000 prize, with the overall winner of the Open competition to be announced on April 12 at London's Somerset House.
"Creativity and originality were very important in choosing a winning image and it was terrific to see the excitement and joy of the photographers when they captured the moment," said judge Hideko Kataoka.
"The photographs in this competition each make a coherent visual statement about a situation or particular circumstance in an elegant visual way. As can be seen in many images in the shortlist this year, black and white photography holds a special place in the hearts of many photographers. The simplicity of black and white has the power to distil the content of an image, and direct the viewer's attention to the subject."
Another black-and-white entry came from Vicente Ansola, from Spain. His work Exodus won the Landscape category, and shows a field of sunflowers in Castilla and Leon.
"Sunflowers always seek the divine by following the sun on its route," says the photographer. "These ones, although withered, stood up proudly. When I grabbed my camera to shoot, I no longer saw sunflowers but women walking the dry fields of Castilla, wearing ancestral garments. An army of spirits — the inexorable exodus of the Spanish rural."
A monochromatic industrial district in Hong Kong is depicted in Anthony Chan's winning work, Old Meets New. A mix of old and new developments highlight a contrasting coexistence; a new, stylishly designed skyscraper juxtaposes an old complex mounted with air conditioners, pipes and wires. "The shadow and light accentuated the overall monochromic effect of the city’s architecture," says Chan.
Sitting in contrast is Nguyen Phuc Thanh's colourful shot Bike with Flowers. The Vietnamese photographer's image, which won the Travel category, is of a traditional flower street seller cycling in Hanoi, passing a wall bursting with bright decorations in various hues.
"A hundred years ago there were just 36 streets and now there are many more, but the street culture remains strong in Hanoi," Thanh says. "There are lots of shops in the main streets but people in the old streets prefer to get serviced by mobile street vendors. I spent a weekend following street vendors and found that they were walking or riding their bikes all day. Here is one of my favourite moments."
One entry from Hend Wahdan in Egypt made the Lifestyle shortlist, with a number of submissions from Iran also included in the Creative, Motion, Portraiture, Street Photography and Travel categories.
More information is at www.worldphoto.org