november 24, 2021 - world photography organisation

Edward Burtynsky, outstanding contribution to Photography Award 2022

Exhibition: 15 april - 2 may 2022 l Somerset House, London

The World Photography Organisation is delighted to announce the renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky as the Outstanding Contribution to Photography recipient of the Sony World Photography Awards 2022. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most accomplished contemporary photographers, Burtynsky is best known for his sweeping images of industrial landscapes and the wider environmental crisis.

Over a dozen large-scale photographs will be presented as part of the #sonyworldphotographyawards 2022 exhibition at Somerset House, #london from 15 April 2 May 2022. The selection, made by the artist, highlights key bodies of work and themes over his 40 year career. These include epic scenes from Anthropocene (2018); taking its name from the proposed name for our present geological epoch, this series offers an examination of human activity and the profound influence it has on the Earth and its systems.

Also included are images from Burtynsky’s seminal work Oil (2009), a 12-year chronicle of the complex oil cycle from extraction to distribution and everyday use - and our dependence on this finite resource. Additionally, presented in the UK for the first time will be images from Burtynsky’s forthcoming series Africa (2022), a look at both the natural African landscape as well as areas that have been transformed through resource extraction. Other projects represented in the exhibition include Salt Pans (2016), Water (2013) and Railcuts (1985).

Burtynsky was born in 1955 of Ukrainian heritage in St. Catharines, Ontario and received his BAA in Photography / Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982. Growing up watching cargo ships passing through his hometown, and exposed to his father’s work at the General Motors plant where he later worked himself, Burtynsky’s imagination was captured by the profound scale of human production, influencing the development of his own photographic style.

His imagery explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet. In striking depictions of vast human-altered landscapes Burtynsky lays bare the awesome scale of infrastructure and destruction fuelled by systems of capitalism and consumption. Taken predominantly from a bird’s-eye view, vistas of scarred mountain ranges, desiccated bodies of water, quarries, mines, agriculture and sprawling urbanism are distilled into painterly abstractions of colour and form. Both wondrous and terrifying, Burtynsky’s meticulously executed compositions lure viewers with their aesthetic beauty and keep them transfixed as unsettling details begin to emerge, revealing the scope of the devastation captured.

Commenting on his work and acceptance of the award, #edwardburtynsky says: I am very excited to accept this award. My work over the last 40 years has given me the privilege to see the world, understand the problems that we are facing, and bear witness to it all with my camera. The different photographs in this exhibition are best viewed as one body of work; together they are a lament to the loss of nature. There is a dynamism to each image - they allow the viewer to go up close and unpack things, to understand the scale, and really dig in.’

The Outstanding Contribution to Photography honours a person or group of #people that have made a significant impact on the photographic medium. As its 15th recipient #edwardburtynsky joins a distinguished list of iconic names including William Eggleston (2013), Mary Ellen Mark (2014), Martin Parr (2017), Candida Höfer (2018), Nadav Kander (2019), Gerhard Steidl (2020) and Graciela Iturbide (2021) to name a few.

The overall winners in the Student, Youth, Open and Professional competition of the #sonyworldphotographyawards 2022 will be announced on 14 April 2022. For more information about upcoming announcement and winners please visit

Further information in the press release to download

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