Edward Burtynsky, "Phosphor Tailings Pond #4, Near Lakeland, Florida, USA" (2012) (All images © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York/Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco)

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky received high honors today, November 24, recognized for his “Outstanding Contribution to Photography” by the World Photography Organisation’s 2022 Sony World Photography Awards. Burtynsky’s work captures wide-angle views of industrial processes and waste and their interactions with natural ecosystems. Over decades, his work has examined the complex process of resource extraction, use, and disposal, revealing its impact in vivid detail. His images combine technical skill with sweeping scale and expert composition, using aesthetic wonder to twist the knife of abject environmental damage.

Edward Burtynsky, “Salt Pans #18, Little Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, India” (2016)

Some of Burtynsky’s large-scale prints will be presented as part of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition at Somerset House, London, from April 15 through May 2, 2022. This handful of images, selected by the artist, skims the surface of a prodigious 40-year photography career for which he is internationally recognized. Among these are images from the some of his best-known series, including Anthropocene (2018) and Oil (2009), as well as previews from the forthcoming series Africa (2022). Other projects represented in the exhibition include Salt Pans (2016), Water (2013), and Railcut (1985).

“I am very excited to accept this award,” said Burtynsky in a press release announcing the event. “My work over the last 40 years has given me the privilege to see the world, understand the problems that we are facing, and bear witness to it all with my camera. The different photographs in this exhibition are best viewed as one body of work; together they are a lament to the loss of nature. There is a dynamism to each image — they allow the viewer to go up close and unpack things, to understand the scale, and really dig in.”

Edward Burtynsky, “Saw Mills #2, Lagos, Nigeria” (2016)

In receiving this award, Burtynsky joins an impressive cohort of previous Outstanding Contribution to Photography honorees as having made a significant impact on the photographic medium. The elite group of 15 (including Burtynsky) includes William Eggleston, Mary Ellen Mark, Martin Parr, Candida Höfer, Nadav Kander, Gerhard Steidl, and Graciela Iturbide. The overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open, and Professional competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 will be announced on April 14, 2022.

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit —...