I spent more than a year photographing leopards in Kenya's Laikipia County. All images were taken using a high-quality camera trap system that I developed myself for photographing elusive and nocturnal wildlife. One of the leopards in this area is a very rare melanistic individual – a black panther. Prior to this project, a black leopard had not been scientifically documented in Africa for more than 100 years. The normal ‘spotty’ leopards shown in this series are thought to be the parents of the black leopard. Working exclusively at night allowed me to get creative with lighting. In some images, I used dramatic, studio-like lighting, while in others I balanced my flash with ambient moonlight or even exposed stars in the night sky. Working with such an unusual black animal in the black of night was both a great challenge and a wonderful opportunity to experiment with light.

The rare black panther not seen in Africa for 100 years: Sony World Photography Awards 2021

We bring you our top 11 favourite images from one of the most prestigious photography awards out there.

Produced by the World Photography Organisation, the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards is one of the most important fixtures in the global photographic calendar.

Advertisement

Now in its 14th year, the free to enter Awards are a global voice for photography and provide a vital insight into contemporary photography today.

We now bring you some of our favourite images from this year’s batch.

Silence is Golden

An all-Italian fresco in photographs, with a brief summer trip to nearby Malta. The images tell of scientific research, climate change in agriculture and food delivery bike couriers in Milan; also of Covid-19, social distancing, oxygen production, emergency management and a fascination with life.
An anechoic chamber is perhaps the quietest place in the world, and this example at The University of Ferrara (Italy) is no exception. Derived from Greek, the word anechoic literally means “free of echo”. Entering the chamber is an almost mystical experience: sound doesn’t reverberate and those who enter gradually lose their equilibrium as the initial euphoria transforms into an eerie sensation of disorientation. The violin-player pictured in the chamber would still be able to hear her own playing, but without any reverberation at all.
Alessandro Gandolfi/Sony World Photography Awards

Locust Swarm In East Africa

Desert locusts are the most destructive migratory pests in the world. Thriving in moist conditions in semi-arid to arid environments, billions of locusts have been feeding throughout East Africa, devouring everything in their path, and posing a huge threat to the food supply and livelihoods of millions of people. Farmers stand by as armies of ravenous insects eat their crops; meanwhile, herders watch the rangelands stripped bare before their livestock can get to them. Extreme rainfall events and severe weather anomalies have created ideal conditions for locust breeding and feeding. Swarms of desert locusts from the Arabian Peninsula began rampaging across East Africa in early 2020, devouring crop and vegetation where they landed. The crisis reached historic proportions, with 10 countries in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen experiencing infestations. Some areas of East Africa, such as Kenya, had not seen such severe desert locust outbreaks in more than 70 years. Covid-19 restrictions have significantly slowed efforts to fight the infestation, as crossing borders has become more difficult, creating delays and disrupting the supply chains of pesticides and products needed to prevent these pests from wiping out vegetation across the region and exposing millions of people to high levels of food insecurity.
Desert locusts are the most destructive migratory pests in the world. Thriving in moist conditions in semi-arid to arid environments, billions of locusts have been feeding throughout East Africa, devouring everything in their path, and posing a huge threat to the food supply and livelihoods of millions of people. Farmers stand by as armies of ravenous insects eat their crops; meanwhile, herders watch the rangelands stripped bare before their livestock can get to them. Extreme rainfall events and severe weather anomalies have created ideal conditions for locust breeding and feeding. Swarms of desert locusts from the Arabian Peninsula began rampaging across East Africa in early 2020, devouring crop and vegetation where they landed. The crisis has now reached historic proportions, with 10 countries in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen experiencing infestations.
Luis Tato/Sony World Photo Awards

Black Panther Forever

An incredibly rare black panther (Panthera pardus) photographed in Laikipia Country, Kenya. The photographer spent more than a year photographing leopards in this location using a high-quality camera trap system that was developed to snap elusive and nocturnal wildlife. Prior to this project, a black panther had not been scientifically documented in Africa for more than 100 years.
An incredibly rare black panther (Panthera pardus) photographed in Laikipia Country, Kenya. The photographer spent more than a year photographing leopards in this location using a high-quality camera trap system that was developed to snap elusive and nocturnal wildlife. Prior to this project, a black panther had not been scientifically documented in Africa for more than 100 years.
Will Burrard-Lucas/Sony World Photo Awards

Trapped In Ice

Forced to refrain from travel, I turned to landscape photography closer to home, and became obsessed by the colours, patterns and textures that appear in frozen puddles. To me, these puddles are a source of wonder, even in an otherwise uninspiring location. Sometimes, ice is transparent and crisp; at other times, its multiple layers of freezing and thawing ice become opaque and cloudy. My intent was to capture the landscape in ice form, photographing its transient and fragile beauty.
A frozen puddle containing leaves, twigs and air bubbles highlights interesting colours, patterns and textures. Photographed in the UK
Carol Graham/Sony World Photo Awards

Consumption Crisis

The world's population is expected to increase by 2 billion in the next 30 years, according to a United Nations report. We would need the equivalent of almost three planets to provide the natural resources required to sustain our lifestyles in their current state. The impact of consumerism on our environment is reflected in every aspect of our daily lives. This series explores the amazing capabilities humans have for production, circulation, and consumption.
An aerial view of an open pit mine in China. From a photographic series by the photographer that explores the amazing capabilities humans have for production, circulation, and consumption.
Wentao Li/Sony World Photo Awards

Olympic Training At Home

Unbreakable Olympians captures the training and preparation of elite Czech athletes during the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, all sports grounds were closed.
Unbreakable Olympians captures the training and preparation of elite Czech athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, all sports grounds are closed, and many athletes around the world have taken to training in unusual and original ways.
Barbora Reichova/Sony World Photo Awards

Run To The Sea

A small meltwater creek ends in the big sea. Taken from a small plane in Iceland.
An aerial image of a small Icelandic meltwater creek where it meets the sea.
Kevin Frank/Sony World Photo Awards

If you are enjoying our gallery, why not check out some of our other great picture galleries:

Advertisement

Peek-a-boo

I photographed this ant looking through an autumn leaf in a forest near my home.
The photographer snapped this image of an ant looking through an autumn leaf whilst in lockdown in the Netherlands.
Alex Pansier/Sony World Photo Awards

New Pollution

New Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities. In winter especially, smoke and smog create a toxic mantle from which it is impossible to escape. In particularly poor conditions, breathing Delhi’s air could be equivalent to smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day. How are Delhi’s residents trying to combat this emergency? With masks (but these have to be of the requisite quality), with purifiers (very expensive) and with plants that emit oxygen also at night (but these aren’t enough). A bar has even opened where customers can breathe pure oxygen for 15 minutes at a cost of 400 rupees (around €5). The problem is mainly a question of socio-economic class: the poor, who live more or less on the streets and don’t use masks, are the most vulnerable.
Men fish in the foam of the Yamuna River, between the Amrapali Yamuna bridge and the Kalindi Kunj bridge in New Dheni, India. The city is one of the world’s most polluted cities in the world. In winter especially, smoke and smog create a toxic mantle from which it is impossible to escape. In particularly poor conditions, breathing Delhi’s air could be equivalent to smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day.
Alessandro Gandolfi/Sony World Photo Awards

COVID Killer

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Health Affairs unit of Ankara Municipality sprays all public transportation, day and night.
An underground train in Ankara, Turkey, is disinfected by a worker for the health department. During the coronavirus pandemic all public transportation in Ankara is sprayed many times a day to try to stop the spread of the virus.
F.Dilek Uyar/Sony World Photo Awards

Glow In The Dark

A magical night.
Sea sparkle is caused by bioluminescent algae (Noctiluca scintillans) which emit light when disturbed by the movement of the water. It is usually found on coasts and in estuaries. Photographed in Norway.
Hans Kristian Strand/Sony World Photo Awards