17 of the most jaw-dropping images in the running for the world’s largest photography contest

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A member of the RIC Hornets wheelchair basketball team goes for the ball.
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Rob Gregory/Sony World Photography Awards

This year there were a record-breaking 230,103 entries to the world’s biggest photography competition: the Sony World Photography Awards.

Entries in three main categories – professional, open, and youth – were received from a record 186 countries.

Here, we’ve selected 17 of our favorite images that were shortlisted in the professional and open categories.

Official winners will be announced April 21, but we wouldn’t be surprised if these 17 make the cut.


Very few people are brave enough to dive the cold waters off the coast of Russia, but photographer and diver Alexander Semenov has been exploring the waters to find these fantastic, archaic creatures living in the sea.

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Russia, Shortlist, Professional: Environment
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Alexander Semenov/Sony World Photography Award

Matthias Hangst documented the Women’s Team Free Synchronized Swimming at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

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Germanym, Shortlist, Professional: Sport
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Matthias Hangst/Sony World Photography Award

Attila Balogh shot Larung Gar, a town in the Chinese Sichuan province that’s home to 40,000 Buddhist monks.

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Hungary, Shortlist, Open: Architecture
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Attila Balogh/Sony World Photography Award

This image was taken by Khairel Anuar Che Ani during the Melasti Festival in Bali.

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Malaysia, Shortlist, Open: Split Second
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Khairel Anuar/Sony World Photography Award

Filippo Venturi’s work explored the idea of South Korea’s obsession with perfection, as well as the society’s focus on competition and rivalry.

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Italy, Shortlist, Professional: People
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Filippo Venturi/Sony World Photography Award

Photographer Giancarlo Ceraudo was fascinated with Miami’s mix of cultures. The nightlife, immigration issues, and local art scene inspired his work.

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Italy, Shortlist, Professional: Candid
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Giancarlo Ceraudo/Sony World Photography Award

Karolis Janulis captured this image of people practicing yoga in a central park in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Lithuania, Shortlist, Open: People
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Karolis Janulis/Sony World Photography Award

Lucy Nicholson explored the California droughts in late 2015.

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UK, Shortlist, Professional: Environment
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Lucy Nicholson/Sony World Photography Award

Nikolai Linares took striking portraits of silver-medal winners just after losing their final at the Zealand boxing Championships held in Copenhagen.

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Denmark, Shortlist, Professional: Sport
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Nikolai Linares/Sony World Photography Award

The long tradition of boxing in Ghana fascinated photographer Patrick Sinkel, who went to Bokum, a small neighborhood home to many world boxing champions.

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Germany, Shortlist, Professional: Sport
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Patrick Sinkel/Sony World Photography Award

Peter Voss captured these children, known as “reindeer farmers” in Mongolia.

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Germany, Shortlist, Open: Smile
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Peter Voss/Sony World Photography Award

This baby fur seal was photographed by Andrey Narchuk.

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Russia, Shortlist, Open: Nature and Wildlife
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Andrey Narchuk/Sony World Photography Award

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Adaptive Sports Program hired photographer Rob Gregory to photograph the RIC Hornets wheelchair basketball team.

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USA, Shortlist, Professional: Campaign
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Rob Gregory/Sony World Photography Award

Stephan Zirwes’ series “Pools” explores the wasteful use of drinking water. Public pools, such as this one, represent the idea that water should be free and accessible to everyone.

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Germany, Shortlist, Professional: Architecture
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Stephan Zirwes/Sony World Photography Award

Stephanie Sinclair shadowed the Ringling Bros.’ employees that live on trains for 44 weeks out of the year.

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USA, Shortlist, Professional: Daily life
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Stephanie Sinclair/Sony World Photography Award

This group of children studying in a madrasa in Bangladesh was captured by Tanveer Rohan.

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Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open: Arts and Culture
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Tanveer Rohan/Sony World Photography Award

Tugo Cheng photographed this fisherman floating on a boat among bamboo rods built for aquaculture off the coast of southern China.

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Hong Kong, Shortlist, Open: Travel
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Tanveer Rohan/Sony World Photography Award