Last Year’s Top Photographs From Around The World Arrive At Somerset House

It’s the closing weekend for the excellent Landmark photography exhibition, but to ensure visitors to Somerset House can still get their fix of superb images the Sony World Photo Awards exhibition has just opened in its opposite wing.

Every year the World Photo Awards celebrate the best of the previous year’s photographs in categories as wide ranging as Current Affairs to Conceptual, with competitions open to professionals, amateurs and young photographers. These are then put on display in a remarkably short-lived three week exhibition.

There are some brilliant works on display from the politically relevant and often disturbing images of the Syrian conflict to Christian Aslund’s surreal rooftop homage to platform video games.

Some highlights for us include the concentration on Felix Baumgartner’s face as he prepares for his record-breaking free fall, a tree frog caught as it enters a pool of water and Berta Vicente’s haunting image of a young girl peering out of a window of a monolithic abandoned building.

The overall winner and deserved recipient of the covered Iris d’Or prize is Andrea Gjestvang for her emotionally powerful portraits of the survivors of the Norwegian massacre committed by Anders Breivik two years ago. Her subjects pose with their missing limbs and scars clearly visible, both physical and mental. One girl hugs her dog which was bought as a companion to help her get over her nightmares, while two friends who hid together on that day hold on to each other almost as if they’re still afraid to let go.

The hardest hitting photograph is of a 15 year old girl who appears vulnerable but demonstrates a steely resolve by saying “I bear my scars with dignity, because I got them standing for something I believe in”.

This is an excellent exhibition, and though it doesn’t quite have the consistent brilliance of Landmark, it’s still well worth the admission charge.

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition is on at Somerset House, Strand, until 12 May. Admission is £7.50 for adults, £5 concessions.

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