It’s almost time for the annual Sony World Photography Awards, one of the most prestigious photography contests in the world.
Now in its twelfth year, both professional and student photographers from all over the world submit their photos for a chance to win this honor.
Here’s a look at some of its recent winners and how to capture similar shots.
“Fishing at Night” by Osmo Kyttala, China
“Fishing At Night” was a 2015 World Photography Award winner. Depicting Chinese fishermen, the picture is backlit with dim lighting, creating dark silhouettes of the men. The photograph displays various shades of blue, which gives the viewer a sense that this scene takes place at night.
Travel to Southern China to find a similar scene. You can often find fishermen on the Li Jiang River in the Guangxi Zhaung region, named by National Geographic as one of the World’s Top 10 Watery Wonders.
Take the famous Li River cruise and experience this peaceful river surrounded by breathtaking mountain ranges. Cruises vary from those with buffets to simple raft cruises.
You can take a similar photo by choosing a subject to shoot at night. You can capture locals working night shifts, as pictured above, or have someone pose for you and create your own scene.
Make sure to use a tripod, as dimly lit photographs are prone to “camera shake,” where the picture is blurry. Place a soft light behind your subject and shoot away! If you are not satisfied, remember you can always adjust the contrast in photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom.
(Poramin Kanyakool, Sony World Photography Awards 2019)
Travel photography can be broken down into several categories including portraiture, food, street, or landscape, as shown above.
While capturing portraits gives your audience a connection to the people, simple landscapes can be just as powerful.
This scene in Cappadocia, Turkey is certainly a popular landscape to shoot with its warm colors and vibrant hot air balloons. In fact, the entire region is known for historical wonders like unique rock formations called “fairy chimneys,” and it’s early Christian culture that includes Roman and Byzantine art.
Today, Cappadocia’s most popular tourist attraction is hot air ballooning, offering many opportunities for unique shots.
(Khalid Alsabt, Sony World Photography Awards 2017)
Li River, China
Portraiture is one of the most important elements of travel photography. While the landscape depicts the scenery, portraits tell a story of the people, whether it’s a traveler or a local going about their day.
Take the above photo for example; a man stands on the edge of the bank and casts his net while the local landscape surrounds him in a soft, warm glow.
During your travels, take a day or two to explore and get to know the area you’re in. Make a plan for where you’d like to shoot. You can even ask the locals if they’ll let you take photographs of their everyday activities, from chores to cooking to relaxing.
As mentioned earlier, you can take a cruise along Li River to capture beautiful landscapes, or you can also arrange to meet with local fishermen and accompany them to capture their morning routine. A travel guide or interpreter can help you speak with locals and figure out where to go.
(Svein Nordrum, Sony World Photography Awards 2019)
Sometimes something that seems boring can turn out to be the most exciting.
Take this photo of a frozen pond in Oslo, Norway. If it had been shot at eye level, it might not have been that unique. But taken from a different perspective, it becomes a captivating shot. The details of the frozen pond can be clearly seen as the greens and yellows of the forest frame the subject.
Visit Oslo for many amazing sites like green forests and incredible museums. One of Oslo’s most exciting museum is the Viking Ship Museum with real 9th century Viking ships.
To make your photos stand out, try shooting from different angles! Take a picture of a city from a high vantage point, or get low on the ground to capture details.
(Robert Saunders, Sony World Photography Awards 2019)
Stirling Falls, New Zealand
Finally, don’t limit yourself to one type of photography. While it’s important to be consistent, you can also branch out and try new things.
As Robert Saunders’ photo shows us, the world looks stunning in black and white. Landscapes appear captivating and portraits more intimate. If you plan on taking multiple photos, try taking a set in black and white as well.
Saunders’ photograph was taken of Sterling Falls at Milford Sound, New Zealand. While New Zealand has many majestic waterfalls, Stirling Falls is one of the best.
To visit Stirling Falls, take a drive from Queenstown (4 hours) or Te Anau (2 hours). We recommend taking the drive from Te Anau. Not only is it a shorter route, but you will also pass through a historical tunnel built in 1954 that leads to a car-free park. From there you can walk.
You can also take a boat ride and see from the bottom of the falls.
With a little practice and the right location, you too can create stunning works of art like the ones shown here. You don’t have to have the newest digital camera to create breathtaking images—all it takes is some practice and an acquired eye..
Photos belong to the respective artists and the Sony World Photography Awards.