The Winners of The 2017 Sony World Photography Awards Will Blow Your Mind

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The winners of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards have been officially announced, showing off some of the most beautiful imagery from around the planet. After nearly a quarter of a million entries, here are some of the top picks. Visit the Sony World Photography Awards official site for more.

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“To truly show hyenas in their element, I decided to photograph them at night. The stars in African night sky are so beautiful that I also wanted to try to include them in my image. I used a remote-control buggy to position my camera at ground-level so that I could photograph the hyena with the beautiful starry sky behind. This is a single exposure. I lit the hyena with two wireless off-camera flashes and used a relatively long shutter speed to expose the stars. Because there was no moon to cause ghosting, it didn’t matter if the hyena moved after the initial flash.” (© Will Burrard-Lucas, UK, 1st Place, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Ji Ni a female Giant Panda unsuccessfully tries to breed with Wu Gang at the Bifengxia Giant Panda base in Ya’an City, China. The center is a part of the China Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda, (CCRCGP) Wolong Nature Center, under the Department of Forestry.” (© Ami Vitale, USA, 2nd Place, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Silent Kingdom Ever since I was a kid, as far back as I can remember, I was attracted to the sea. I dreamt about what lay beneath the waves, and how would it look if suddenly all the water vanished, leaving all the animals and living creatures in stasis. In this way, I could walk within the ocean and see them all, suspended for a moment in time and space. To this day I carry within me that dream; and very gratefully realise it through my photography. Each image is a visualisation of that sublime moment whereupon the beautiful marine life around me is frozen majestically in its natural environment. My intention is to capture the essence of being immersed in the experience and presence of the animal or habitat I am photographing, and to share with others their splendour and soul.” (© Christian Vizl, Mexico, 3rd Place, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Flowers at Dusk, Regents Park, London. The photographs were taken in my favourite park, Regents Park, London, at intervals from June to October 2016. Many were taken just as the light was fading. I find flowers that have begun to decay more beautiful. They remind me of how vulnerable and fragile we all are, how temporary. Some flowers take on the personality of people, some listening, watching, some just being themselves. Other flowers felt like animals – one a horse, another a cockerel, one a large bird flying in the air.” (© Esther Whyatt, UK, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“A survey of specimens held in London’s Natural History Museum. The series was made in June 2016 within the conservation rooms of the museum and was published in FT Weekend Magazine.” (© Felicity Mccabe, UK, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Surrealistic industrial lake in Poland. Industrial activity in Poland. View from above.” (© Mariusz Prusaczyk, Poland, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Natural History Museum. Porto. Portugal. Elephants’s skeletons are seen in a room used as material deposit, The skeleton are from the Portuguese colonial time, while the skeleton are real the tusks were removed by the hunters and the ones in the Museum are a reproduction. During the renovation of the museum the equilibrium and the magic of the Museum changed: the animals and the objects gained a new and bizarre life. Displaced from their defined position and out from the staged environment created for the display, they became strange objects, weird creatures inhabiting the space abandoned by the guards of the buildings.” (© Tommaso Rada, Italy, Shortlist, Professional, Natural World, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“A variety of urban form and minimalist architecture breaks the old structure, splitting it into triangles, squares and diamond shapes, refracting a new living style on extant spatial structures. Demonstrating a free use of the language of visual forms, it appears like a game, similar to Goldbach’s conjecture; the destruction of the ossified template of the city, a visual exploration of breaking the rules. In a spatial context, when we ignore the aesthetics of the city, ignore the rules and celebrate the deconstruction and reconstruction of the urban space, the space itself gives us more control and adds more joy to the city.” (© Dongni, China, 1st Place, Professional, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Western China, the pace of economic development has ushered in a new and unprecedented period of transformation, one that has radically redefined the topography of the country whilst displacing significant parts of its population from rural areas to vast, newly-built mega cities. Semi-deserted landscapes carry a profound ambivalence, suggesting at the same time fecundity and sterility, a promise and nothingness. China West is a visual exploration of the impact economic development has had on western China’s landscape, focusing on the dwindling interstice left between nature and urbanisation, a space, which, perhaps more than any other, reveals the true process of change.” (© Julien Chatelin, France, 2nd Place, Professional, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“Prostitution is legal in Greece and the Greek authorities recently decided to implement a 1999 law that stipulates that all brothels must have permits. There are different kinds of brothels, and the top class ones are called Studio. There are a number of differences from normal brothels. The buildings are more discreet, cleaner and tidier, and the prostitutes are more polite in comparison with the normal ones. The price is also higher, around 50 euro. There is a person at the entrance welcoming the clients, and once inside there is a waiting room where the girls available come out to show themselves. At this point, the client can decide whether to stay or to leave. If they decide to stay, a negotiation begins to agree pricing, services and time. These brothels are usually recognisable by a pink neon sign with the word Studio at the front door.” (© Diego Mayon, Italy, 3rd Place, Professional, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)

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“I had the chance to spend 4 days in the Silver Beach Hotel in November 2016, off the shore of Lake Balaton in Hungary. It’s very much a summer resort, so I found myself out of season while working as a set photographer for a film. Built between 1978 and 1983, the hotel was designed by the brutalist architect Tillai ErnÅ‘. All the rooms were obviously vacant, so I was able to snoop around and explore the entire resort to my heart’s content. The place has a retro feel to it, and a soothing patina that I hope I was able to capture. I was fascinated by how stark yet visually inviting this “”anachronistic”” hotel could be.” (© Adi Bulboacă, Romania, Shortlist, Professional, Architecture, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards)