Two Australian photographers have made it to the top ten of over 227,000 images from 183 countries in the Sony World Photography competition. Judges were looking for images representing the finest contemporary photography of today.
Also, shortlisted in the Daily Life category of the Professional competition was the Icelandic photographer Christina Simons, based in Australia.
Jason O'Brien, Professional Sport category
O'Brien's shortlisted series, Superman - Gael Monfils dives at Australian Open 2016 is a fascinating series capturing the unpredictable nature and incredible motion of one of the photographer's favourite tennis players, Gael Monfils. The extraordinary series was taken during the Australian Open tennis tournament in January 2016 for Reuters.
Jason O'Brien, currently based in Pottsville Beach, Australia, has covered top global sporting events, including the Olympic Games, Tennis grand slams and Rugby World Cups. After working as staff photographer for Sports Photo Agency Action Images in London, he moved back to Australia in 2006, where he continues to cover major local and international sporting events. He also contributes to large national publications, such as The Australian and Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
Talking about being shortlisted, O'Brien said "It is a privilege and honour to be recognised by the judges of the Sony World Photography Awards as there are so many talented photographers across the globe who enter the awards."
Tayla Martin, Student Focus
Martin's shortlisted image Remission is a recreation of the emotionally charged moment when her mother emerged from hospital, having been told her cancer was in remission. The image's limited depth of field highlights her mother's confronting expression, which still retains much of the trauma of the experience that she went through. Martin created this fascinating portrait in order to reveal her family's emotional journey and also connect to a wide audience of people with similar experiences.
Tayla Martin, aged 21 and a student at Charles Sturt University, grew up in Nyngan, a remote community in regional Australia. She moved to Wagga Wagga at the age of 18 to study a Bachelor of Creative Arts and Design (double degree in Photography and Graphic Design). Now in her final year, she is planning to continue her studies at a postgraduate level, with a focus on advocating for photography and the creative arts in regional Australia.
"When the first Charles Sturt University student was chosen as a finalist two years ago, I thought at the time that it could be me one day if I work hard enough," Martin said. "I am ecstatic that I have been chosen, I mean who wouldn't be. There are so many doors opening that I will be embracing."
Christina Simons, Professional Daily Life category
Christina Simons is an international documentary photographer focused on human rights and civil liberties. Currently based in Melbourne, Australia, her work is driven by the exploration of sub-cultures and marginalised peoples, leading to exhibitions throughout Australia, the United States and currently in Mexico City.
Simons' work traverses many interests including travel, lifestyle and portraiture and is represented in publications such as The New York Times. She has also been working with NGOs including Medecins Sans Frontieres.
The shortlisted work The Little Bullfighters of Mexico follows the daily lives of young boys learning the craft of bullfighting at a Matador training school in Mexico City.
"Tuition begins with a set of horns used to emulate the movement of a bull. Whilst learning how to evade contact they must respond accordingly with grace and style in custom with tradition," Simons explains.
"In time, they will work with small cows before ascending to fight smaller bulls. The bullfighting pre-season called the Corrida de Novillos is a proving ground for young fighters aspiring to attain the title of Matador de Toros. The boys obsessively hope and pray to one day become professional matadors."
The photographers will now compete to win their categories and the prestigious Sony World Photography Awards' Photographer of the Year title. The Open category winners will be announced March 28, 2017, and the Professional category winners and the Student Focus winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony in London on April 20, 2017. Prizes include the latest Sony digital imaging equipment, a trip to the awards ceremony in London and USD$30,000 in cash prizes. The Student Focus winner will receive €30,000 (Euros) of Sony equipment for their university.
The work of the shortlisted photographers will also be shown alongside the awards' other shortlisted and winning images at the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr – 2017 Exhibition in London from April 21-May 7, 2017.