“Plastic Pollution”

Plastic pollution has been on the rise in the news lately, with the issue becoming worse by the day. Plastic pollution is now getting to the point where holiday destinations that were once a breathtaking place to visit, are now covered in oceans of plastic waste. Animals are dying from eating or choosing to death on bits of plastic waste, their habitats are even being taken over by plastic meaning they have to live around it. The problem is escalating so quickly, that if we don’t do something about it soon, the consequences could deteriorate.

These are some of the issues being highlighted in the news recently about the Plastic Pollution Problem…

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Developing An Idea…

After looking through my spider diagram and mood boards, a few images and ideas stuck out to me in particular. I really like some of the portrait images and some of the still life ones, and I wondered if I could perhaps combine these two together?

I really like the creativity within the portrait images I included in my mood boards. I like how the photographer has manipulated the person with materials, and made it look different to an ordinary portrait.

With the still life images of the plastic, I like how they’re just very simple. Sometimes less is more, and for these images, it works. Plastic is in the news and seen a lot everywhere lately due to the high increase in plastic pollution in recent years, perhaps these images are reflecting something to do with that or are maybe part of a series on that subject?

As these images caught my attention when finding inspiration, they have inspired me to look for similar images and potentially see if I can think of something to base my project on.

Mood boards

After going through my list and spider diagram of possible ideas I could do for each category, I decided to then get some visual inspiration and put it in the form of a moodboard.

I found some images I like and get ideas/inspiration from for some of the categories I like the most.

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Initial Ideas

These are some of my initial ideas for each of the categories. I first of all made a quick list of a few rough ideas, which I then expanded into a spider diagram with more detailed ideas of things I could photograph/compose for this project and competition entry.

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What are the competitions categories?

This year the Sony World Photo Awards has a range of categories you can enter, we can choose from the following to enter…

  • Architecture
  • Brief
  • Creative
  • Discovery
  • Documentary
  • Landscape
  • Natural World/Wildlife
  • Portraiture
  • Still Life
  • Sport

These are the texts that summarise each category on the SWPO website…

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Talk with WPO and Alys Tomlinson

Our first lesson was an introduction to the new brief, and we were also lucky enough to have a talk from two members of the WPO, Panos Pomonis and Emma Double and the winner of this years competition, Alys Tomlinson. This talk was very interesting as they enlightened us as to what the SWPO does, what its about, how to enter it and what it can do for photographers to get their name out there. When it was Alys’ turn to talk, she educated us on her journey to capture her winning images, what it has done for her since she won it and how it has developed her professional photography career.

During the talk with Emma and Panos they told us about the different categories, what sort of work has been entered before, how to get inspiration for our project work etc. They also told us about the prizes that can be won, the press coverage the awards get and the awards ceremony that takes place, along with the exhibition of winners and nominees work.

This caught my attention during the talk, as they said to us, even if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter, don’t enter it to win, but enter it to give yourself a chance and to possibly even get shortlisted or nominated. Even if I was to enter and didn’t win, with what they were telling us, it sounded like my name could still get around and my work could still be seen. With the huge amount of coverage they get, I think i remember the number 4000 cropping up somewhere, whether it be interviews, galleries or broadcasted, your name and work will be seen by someone. This excited me and made me want to put a lot of effort into perfecting the photos I will compose and enter into the Sony World Photo Awards 2019.

The talk with Aly Tomlinson was really interesting. She was telling us how she got the inspiration for her image series “Ex-Voto” from a TV series she had watched, and then she went on a package tour to visit a pilgrimage site. She went there first time around with a camera, took some images, came back and didn’t like them, and this repeated a few times. Then she went back again, but this time she took a Victorian style single frame  camera, where you could only get a few shots at a time, as the sheets were big and expensive. She told us that the key to her capturing such enticing images was taking her time to make sure she got the right shot, as she wouldn’t have had another go at it, and she also had to earn peoples trust to be able to take their portrait. With the amount of times she went back to complete her series of images, Alys said that she made friends with the people at the pilgrimage site and they became fascinated by her and were very welcoming.

Her journey/story about capturing her “Ex-Voto” images was very interesting and quite a warming story to hear. Alys then went on to tell us about how her life changed after winning the SWPO Photographer of the year. Alys told us that her work was exhibited in Somerset House in London, that sh did numerous interviews for newspapers such as The Guardian and TV news interviews on channels such as Sky, ITV and BBC, then she proceeded to say that her series of work is now being turned into a book that will be published later on this year.

Alys’ success story is definitely inspiring, she entered the competition thinking nothing of it, and then it changed her career/life and now she is a well known photographer with an amazing story to tell. If that isn’t inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Previous Winning Images I like…

These are a selection of my favourite winning images from the last few years of the Sony Photo Awards.


2015 Pro Winner Photos-

  1. I like the angle this image was taken, the hight in the image really makes it interesting to look at. The shapes dotted throughout the image make it aesthetically pleasing. I like it because they’ve made something really simple, and possibly uninteresting at eye level, look really professional and eye catching.
  2. The reason I like this image was because of how it was shot close up, make the details and markings on her face really stand out. I also like how its in black and white, meaning there is no colour distracting you elsewhere from the image.
  3. This one caught my attention because of the way the photographer captures such a simple moment, but also caught a number of different emotions and facial expressions in one picture.
  4. Similar to the first image, I really like this image as the angle it was taken at really enhances the natural beauty of the location. I also like the soft colours, and how this image really doesn’t need a lot to look interesting and professional.
  5. The high contrast and strong shadows on this girls face was what drew me to like this image. Its very simply composed yet conveys a strong message through the expression on her face.
  6. This images was composed in an interesting way, putting an image within an image, is a simple yet effective way to create a photograph. It doesn’t always need a lot to create a good photograph.
  7. The symmetry and cleanliness of these windows/archways are very nice on the eye, they make the image aesthetically pleasing. Even with no colour in the image, its still eye catching.
  8. This image is simple, yet the message is strong. A simple image of a boy smiling, although its obvious he doesn’t have a lot to offer, this type of photography has always interested me and always catches my attention because of the story behind them.


2016 Pro Winner Photos-

  1. Although at first its quite hard to tell what this image is, I like it because it doesn’t look like a photograph, to me it looks like a painting. I also love birds eye view images, they make location images look really unique.
  2. I like this image because the message is quite obvious as soon as you look at it, its clear that its to do with the plastic pollution and how its getting worse, especially in recent years.
  3. This image coveys a clear message and thats what drew me to it, like the previous image, its to do with the plastic pollution. The message I get from this image is that there is a lot of plastic problems in the waters lately, and putting that scenario into real life, makes you realise how big of an issue it is becoming.
  4. Very similar to the previous image, taking the amount of plastic from the sea and putting it into every day human life, makes you realise how much plastic there is in the ocean. And if you was to put it into a human scenario, we wouldn’t be able to cope normally with the amount of plastic in our environment.
  5. I find this image very simple, and thats why I like it. I love the strong contrast between the black and white tones, and I also like how the movement of the flag has been captured effortlessly. 
  6. If this image wasn’t to be so bright, it definitely wouldn’t catch my attention as it would be a really boring image. But this one caught my eye because of the overwhelming amount of yellow. I think that a small yellow office is interesting as I haven’t seen one before.


2017 Pro Winners Photos- 

  1. To me this image is simple, yet effective. The repetition of the shapes makes it an interesting image, and the small hint of orange, possibly from a sunset makes this image ‘less bland’.
  2. This image caught my eye straight away as I think I understood it almost instantly. When I look at this image, I see an empty room that once coulee belonged to the photographers family member or friend, and they’ve photographed it empty to show that they have passed. If this observation is correct then this is a very simple image with a very deep message.
  3. This image caught my eye as to me it looks like a piece of drawn art, to me it looked like a pencil or charcoal sketch. I like hold bold it is and how tit stands out from the sky in the background.
  4. This one I like purely for its simplicity, it isn’t anything special really, but sometimes less is more.
  5. I like the fact that this image looks like a reflection but you can’t really tell if it is or not. There isn’t any visible water or mirrors, but it makes it look very arty. I like the bland white tones, but the small hints of blue really make this image stand out.
  6. My favourite part about this image is how the valley of water looks like it is being lit by the light in the sky, thats sitting behind the hills. The black and white tones make you really focus on that rather than having a lot of natural colour distracting you.
  7. This image caught my eye as it looks like a piece of art where the liquids/paints have bled across the page. I really like how it looks like art and not a photograph, but when you look at it close enough, you can tell its a birds eye view image of some sort of water, rocks and sand.
  8. The bit that caught me about this image was the sad look on the dogs face, and how they look like they’re stranded in water, possibly conveying the message of the aftermath of a storm.


2018 Pro Winners Photos-

  1. I like the cold blue tones within this image, and how the dark contrasting tones in the background make the blues stand out.
  2. The simplicity of this image is what caught my eye, I like how its a simple black and white portrait, yet the depth of field adds some interesting elements to it.
  3. What I like about this image is how the foreground is out of focus and the child laying down in the background is in focus. The black and white tones add to the message of this image by there being no colour to distract you from the child.
  4. I like this image for the contrasting tones. The dark shadows and lines, contrasting with the grass and the lightness of the sky.
  5. I like how this image documents what people are up to. It shows how they’re trying to learn/be educated, and although they haven’t got the best facilities to do it in, they’re still making the most of it.
  6. What I like about this image is how it isn’t just a generic picture of two horses, but I like how the angles are slightly off set. How one horse head is coming out the top of another, I like how they both were captured in the middle of making noises. Also, the background being plain makes the details of the horses features stand out.

Summarising The Project

  • Select a category that interests you to create a series of images, to then submit to the Sony Photo Awards
  • A minimum of 5 images and maximum of 10 images are required for entry
  • The images must form a coherent portfolio of work but do not need to be narrative driven
  • Your series of images must be accompanied by a series text (summing up your images, what they’re about and why you did it)
  • A4 prints, RAWs, JPEGs, evidence of submission to SWPO, research via Wordpess and a 5 minute presentation with a professional panel, speaking of which festivals, fellowships, awards etc you will target throughout the year- All required/need to be done for submission/hand in. 
  • Hand in for images and submissions is November 28th, panel presentations are 4th & 5th of December
  • Create a detailed planner/calendar to plan out the deadlines for awards and competitions

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