Australian photographer Adam Ferguson has won the Photographer of the Year title and accompanying $25,000 USD ($33,000 AUD) cash prize in the 2022 Sony World Photo Awards.
Ferguson's winning series, Migrantes, is a series of black and white self-portraits of migrants in Mexico, taken as they waited to cross the border into the United States.
Photographed in collaboration with the subjects, the Dubbo-born photographer said he set-up the scene for each image, mounting a medium format camera on a tripod with a cable release and then stepped back, allowing the individuals to choose the moment of capture and participate in the process of documenting their lives.
"Through collaborating with migrants, this series of photographs was an attempt to make images that inspired empathy, rather than sympathy," said Ferguson.
"By surrendering the control of capture and giving each migrant agency in the process of their representation, I hoped to subvert the narrative of marginalization and create a story that felt more human, relatable and honest.
Speaking to 9 News, Ferguson said he travelled to Mexico during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon arriving at his first destination in Ciudad Juárez, on the Rio Grande, he found the entire city in lockdown.
"It made it difficult for me to access the migrants because a lot of the migrant shelters put in very strict rules around access.
"They were trying to keep Covid out of their establishments and out of their shelters," he said.
Ferguson worked alongside two Mexican journalists, who he said made the project possible.
"Mexico is the most dangerous country on the planet to work in as a local journalist," said Ferguson.
"I worked with two very good journalists in Mexico that really made my job possible, helping me find migrants and translate. I’m grateful to the brave and resilient individuals who agreed to work with me, and receive this award on behalf of them also. Winning the Photographer of the Year award gives this story another life. It allows a new audience to connect with the important stories of the individuals who shared their story with me."
As well as the cash prize, Ferguson wins a selection of Sony photography gear.
Also announced were the ten category winners alongside 2nd and 3rd place of the Professional competition, as well as overall winners of the Open, Student and Youth competitions, a selection of which you can see below.
The Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition opens at Somerset House, London from 13 April – 2 May 2022.
Professional category winners
ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN
2nd place: Javier Arcenillas (Spain) 3rd place: Yun Chi Chen (Taiwan)