Edgar Martins was named Photographer of the Year 2023 for his series “Our War,” a collection of portraits featuring Libyan subjects who resembled (or reminded him of) the late Anton Hammerl, a photojournalist shot while covering the conflict.
In a statement, Martins said receiving the $25,000 prize was “very humbling.” He described it as “quite an emotional experience because I get to honor my friend on a world stage and bring attention to the family’s plight to find his remains.”
“Our War” came about after the Portuguese photographer’s attempts to recover his friend’s body led him to Libya with the help of a smuggler. Instability in the country made his search unfeasible, so Martins instead decided to capture portraits of people who had been involved in the war.
A portrait from Edgar Martins’ winning series “Our War.” Credit: Edgar Martins
The resulting images span former fighters and civilians from both sides of the eight-month conflict that saw Gadhafi overthrown by anti-government rebels.
In a statement, prize chair Mike Trow described the project as a “powerful, personal set of portraits,” adding: “(Martins’) work highlights the lengths photographers will go to tell a story and create meaning; each image giving a sense of the journey Anton took without ever being explicit about how his life ended.”
Martins was selected from the winners of the annual awards’ 10 professional categories, which span topics from sport and landscape to the environment. Now in its 16th year, the awards attracted more than 415,000 entries in 2023, with over 180,000 of them eligible for professional categories. Organizers said this year’s competition had seen the highest number of entries in its history.
Chinese photographer Fan Li won the architecture and design category for his images of an abandoned cement factory. Scroll through the gallery to see a selection of images from the winners of this year’s Sony World Photography Awards. Credit: Fan Li
Winners of other professional categories included Chinese photographer Fan Li, recognized for his images of an abandoned cement factory; the UK’s Hugh Kinsella Cunningham, who documented the work of women’s rights activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and US photographer Al Bello, for his series on the first female baseball player to play in an all-male professional league.
Organizers also announced the winners of several other prizes Thursday, with photographers in the student and youth competitions among those honored. An inaugural Sustainability Prize, meanwhile, recognized the work of environmental photographer Alessandro Cinque.