An Iranian photographer has won the $25,000 top prize in the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards with a collection of portraits taken to highlight the horrors of acid throwing and the plight of its victims. Asghar Khamseh, a photojournalist with Iran’s Mehr News Agency, was given the title L’Iris d'Or Photographer of the Year a ceremony in London last week, at which he was also named the winner of the Contemporary Issues prize. His 'Fire of Hatred' project portrays the shocking injuries that acid throwing inflicts and the mental trauma it can create, but also the pride, strength and dignity of the mainly women and children affected by these too-common attacks.

The ceremony also honored 15 other category-winning photographers across 14 professional competitions, an Open section for amateur photographers as well as student and youth contests. The Open winner, Kei Nomiyama from Japan, won a prize of $5000, and all category winners won trophies as well as Sony camera equipment. For the first time a photographer won two categories, with Canada’s Kevin Frayer coming out on top in both the Environment and People competitions.

The prize for Outstanding Contribution to Photography went to a Chinese and Japanese couple, RongRong and inri for their promotion of, and influence on, contemporary photography in China.

The ninth Sony World Photography Awards received 230,103 entries from photographers in 186 countries, and category winners, shortlisted and commended images will be exhibited in Somerset House in London until the 8th May. A book of images is also available.

For more information on the awards visit the Sony World Photography Awards website.

Press release:

Grand prize winners announced for the world’s largest photography competition – 2016 Sony World Photography Awards

Iranian photographer Asghar Khamseh wins L’Iris d’Or Photographer of the Year and $25,000 prize for powerful portraits of acid attack victims

London, 21st April 2016: The overall winners of the world’s largest photography competition, the 2016 Sony World Photography Awards, are named today by the World Photography Organisation. An exhibition of all the winning and shortlisted work will run at Somerset House, London from 22nd April – 8th May.

Following a record-breaking 230,103 submissions to its ninth edition, the awards’ Honorary Judging Committee has selected Iranian photojournalist Asghar Khamseh as the recipient of its most coveted prize, the L’Iris d’Or Photographer of the Year.

Chosen from the winners of the awards’ fourteen Professional categories, the winning work, ‘Fire of Hatred’, is a powerful portrait series tackling the social issues around the violent act of acid throwing. Khamseh was announced as the winner of the $25,000 (USD) prize at an awards ceremony in London in front of industry leaders. The winners and finalists of all fourteen Professional categories were also announced at the ceremony.

At the ceremony, the World Photography Organisation announced Kei Nomiyama, Japan, as the Open Photographer of the Year and recipient of $5,000 (USD). In addition, the organisation announced the winners of the Youth and Student Focus Photographer of the Year titles. All winners of the night received the latest Sony digital imaging equipment.

Scott Gray, CEO, World Photography Organisation comments: “The awards consistently provide an incredible array of work, from a multitude of countries, and most importantlyprovide the chance for photographers to be discovered and extend their careers. I hope that the winning work this year can provide an inspiration to other photographers, helping to push their creative boundaries, whilst also serving to build the wider appreciation of photography.”

The Sony World Photography Awards annually recognises the world’s best photography. Free to enter and open to all photographers, the awards are an authoritative voice in the photographic industry that has the power to shape the careers of its winning and shortlisted photographers.

Born in Tehran in 1963, Asghar Khamseh is a photojournalist with Mehr News Agency, Iran, whose work focuses on social issues.

The winning series ‘Fire of Hatred’ is a powerful series of portraits of the victims of acid attacks. This beautiful yet thought-provoking work examines the social issues around this violent crime – looking past the physical and psychological damages suffered, and towards the social stigma and blame the victims, who are mainly women and children, suffer.

Dominique Green, Chair, Documentary Jury said of the work: “Portraits of disfigurement resulting from social violence are undoubtedly a hard-hitting subject, and one which the longstanding tradition of documentary photography does not shy away from. The power of Asghar Khamseh’s imposing series ‘Fire of Hatred’ is such that he enables the viewer to face head-on intimate images, which could be testing to examine closely, with empathy and respect which in turn allows the viewer to become a witness and not just a spectator. The Jury were united in their admiration of this work and the light it shed on the tragic practice it exposes.”

The winners of the seven Documentary and seven Art categories hail from 10 countries and, for the first time, two Professional categories have been won by one photographer in the same year. Photographers were judged on a body of work.

Architecture winner: Amélie Labourdette, France
2nd - Hui Zhang, China / 3rd - Stephan Zirwes, Germany
Candid winner - Kirstin Schmitt, Germany
2nd - Nick Ng, Malaysia / 3rd - Andrea Rossato, Italy
Conceptual winner - Julien Mauve, France
2nd - Alejandro Beltran, Venezuela / 3rd - Barbaros Kayan, Turkey
Landscape winner: Maroesjka Lavigne, Belgium
2nd Maoyuan Cui, China / 3rd Stefan Schlumpf, Switzerland
Portraiture winner: Marcello Bonfanti, Italy
2nd Fauzan Ijazah, Indonesia / 3rd Rubén Salgado Escudero, Spain
Staged winner: Alberto Alicata, Italy
2nd Cristina Vatielli, Italy / 3rd Kristoffer Eliassen, Norway
Still Life winner: Francesco Amorosino, Italy
2nd Oliver Schwarzwald, Germany / 3rd Hiroshi Watanabe, Japan

Campaign winner: Jetmir Idrizi, Kosovo
2nd - David Chancellor, UK / 3rd - Antoine Repessé, France
Contemporary Issues winner - Asghar Khamseh, Iran
2nd - Kevin Frayer, Canada / 3rd - Simona Ghizzoni, Italy
Current Affairs winner - Angelos Tzortzinis, Greece
2nd - Andrea and Magda, Italy & France / 3rd - Andrew Burton, USA
Daily Life winner: Espen Rasmussen, Norway
2nd Sandra Hoyn, Germany / 3rd Stephanie Sinclair, USA
Environment winner: Kevin Frayer, Canada
2nd Li Feng, China / 3rd Lucy Nicholson, UK
People winner: Kevin Frayer, Canada
2nd Filippo Venturi, Italy / 3rd Alessandro D'Angelo, Italy
Sport winner: Nikolai Linares, Denmark
2nd Jens Juul, Denmark / 3rd Annick Donkers, Belgium

“Enchanted Bamboo Forest” by Kei Nomiyama was selected as the single best image in the world by a panel of judges chaired by Jael Marschner, former picture editor Time Out London / Sunday Times Travel. The photographer was awarded $5,000 (USD) at the London ceremony.

A Ph.D. Associate Professor in Environmental Chemistry at Ehime University, Japan, Nomiyama is keen wildlife and underwater photographer. His photograph was shot in the mountains of Shikoku Island and captures the Luciola parvula firefly at the beginning of the rainy season.
The photograph was selected from 10 Open category winners announced on 29th March. The Open competition asks for a single image and is open to all photographers.

A beautiful portrait of the photographer’s sister won 18 year old student Sam Delaware the Youth Photographer of the Year title. Born in Freeport, Maine and currently attending school in Angwin, California, Delaware is a self-taught photographer who has been shooting since the aged of 12. The photographer was flown to London to attend the awards ceremony as part of his prize.

The winning image was selected from three Youth category winners announced on 29 March, the Youth competition is open to all photographers aged 12-19.

Sofia Jern, aged 23 of Novia University of Applied Sciences, Finland, secured the Student Focus Photographer of the Year title. She collected €30,000 worth of Sony photography equipment for her university at the awards ceremony in London. Jern’s winning work follows the lives of ‘glue boys’, young male drug users escaping reality on the streets of Kitale, Kenya.

Student Focus works worldwide with over 400 educational institutions with photography courses and is one of the world’s leading programmes for photography students. It is supported by the British Journal of Photography.

RongRong & inri, the influential photographic husband and wife team who have shaped contemporary photography in China and beyond, collected their Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize at the London awards ceremony. They were recognised by the World Photography Organisation for both their careers as artists and their significant impact on Asian photography.

RongRong & inri’s photography reflects the intimate world that they have created together and pushes the boundaries of traditional black-and-white darkroom techniques. Together they founded China’s first contemporary art space dedicated to the medium, the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, and the 2015 Jimei x Arles Photo Festival in partnership with Les Recontres d’Arles.

The first major European showing of RongRong & inri’s work, celebrating their careers will be presented at Somerset House as part of the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition.
The Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize has previously been awarded to Mary Ellen Mark, William Eggleston, Eve Arnold, Bruce Davidson, Marc Riboud, William Klein, Elliott Erwitt and Phil Stern.

All the winning and shortlisted images will be exhibited at Somerset House, London from 22nd April – 8th May. The exhibition will also include a special dedication to Outstanding Contribution to Photography recipients, RongRong & inri.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the winning and selected shortlisted works, available to buy from