Sergio Carrasco, “The Scent of Cempasúchil” (© Sergio Carrasco, Mexico, Shortlist, Latin America National Awards; all images courtesy Sony World Photography Awards 2022)

With a truly wide world of images to choose from, the World Photography Organisation has nonetheless narrowed them down to some standouts, announcing the winners of the 2022 Sony World Photography National Awards this week. Contenders from 61 countries took part in this year’s contest, an initiative launched by the World Photography Organisation and Sony to champion local photographers around the globe.

More than 340,000 images from 211 territories were submitted, and 170,000 were entered to the Open competition from which the 59 winning photographs were selected. Given the scope of the entrant pool, the winners can feel justifiably proud of being recognized for their exceptional imagery: a ballet dancer by Russian winner Marianna Smolina and sumo wrestlers by Chin Leong Teo of Singapore, both in stunning mid-flight; a cave pool so idyllic as to seem unreal, captured by Taiwanese winner Chihao Wang, and many others.

Matjaž Šimic, “Wild Horses” (© Matjaž Šimic, Slovenia, Winner, National Awards)
A photograph by Dikpal Thapa. (© Dikpal Thapa, Nepal, Winner, National Awards)
Filip Hrebenda, “Born of Fire” (© Filip Hrebenda, Slovakia, Winner, National Awards)
A cave in Taiwan photographed by Chihao Wang. (© Chihao Wang, Taiwan, Winner, National Awards)

Most of the 61 countries had only a single winning photographer represented, with Japan and North Korea each receiving first, second, and third place wins. Additionally, this year’s competition inaugurated the Latin America National Awards initiative — a new format that shines a spotlight on talents from across Central America, South America, and Mexico, with a featured shortlist of six photographers, as well as first, second, and third place winners in the region. Imagine being one or one of just a handful of photographers chosen to visually represent your country.

Chin Leong Teo’s stunning shot of Sumo wrestlers in mid-flight (© Chin Leong Teo, Singapore, Winner, National Awards)

From stunning landscapes and arresting animal subjects to both urban and rural human society and deeply personal, intimate shots, the winning images are a terrific reminder that the world we live in is exceptionally beautiful and varied. Even images that focus on the more vulnerable aspects of our world, like US Winner Jenny Zhao’s portrait of a polar bear, or Finnish winner Damon Beckford’s iceberg in the open sea, choose to encapsulate the beauty of their subjects rather than their precarity.

Twin sisters at a Buddhist monastery by Swe Tun. (© Swe Tun, Myanmar, Winner, National Awards)
Marianna Smolina’s ethereal shot of a ballet dancer. (© Marianna Smolina, Russian Federation, Winner)
Flamingoes shot with a drone by Salem Alsawafi. (© Salem Alsawafi, United Arab Emirates, Winner)

All National Award winners receive Sony digital imaging equipment and will be included in a forthcoming Sony World Photography Awards exhibition and book. The overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competition of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022 will be announced on April 12, and will go on display as part of the exhibition at Somerset House, London, from April 13 through May 2.

A portrait by Juan Carlos Rodríguez (© Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Costa Rica, Shortlist, Latin America National Awards)

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 — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....