IN AN age when everyone is a photographer, the Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition performs an important function, sifting, selecting and showing not only what has happened in the world in the previous 12 months but also what's new in the way we see and record it.
The mammoth show of work by 750 enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals, opening at the end of this month at Somerset House, is put on by the World Photography Organisation, which has considered 120,000 submissions online, representing 170 countries, from Kazakhstan to Italy, Ukraine to Peru, and beyond. Viewed as a body of work, it gives a snapshot of the latest trends in style, subjects and technology.
1. DIGITAL WIZARDRY The technology involved in photography gets ever more complicated. In the case of Germany's Markus Reugels, his subject is still life but taken beyond the classic bowl of fruit. Operating in a laboratory/studio without manipulation or Photoshopping, Reugels creates virtual three-dimensional images with high-speed cameras, freezes liquid droplets into sculptural shapes and synchronises every detail.
2. COMPUTER COLOURISATION From the early days of photography, hand-tinting was a favourite addition to the black-and-white and sepia print but today a new pleasure is found in digital paint- boxes. For Spanish globetrotter Daniel Duart colour is clearly a crucial element. His series taken from inside taxi windows gain a sense of history with their softly air-brushed street scenes of 21st- century Marrakech life.
3. DISTORTED DIMENSIONS Current fashions in advertising are among the most imaginative variations in photography today. For a campaign for sneakers in Hong Kong, Swedish photographer Christian Aslund shot on location from skyscrapers, pointing his telephoto lens to the ground to distort dimensions. The result is a flat scene which resembles a platform game but still maintains a contemporary hold on photography. The man poised on a "ledge" against a bare wall is actually lying on a street against a concrete "backdrop" worthy of Banksy.
4. NEW SURREALISM Recent Surrealist Art blockbuster shows in London have inspired a trail of young photographers. Influences draw on the great names, most notably Man Ray, and like him the UK's Edurne Aginaga constructs scenes without digital assistance, playing with scales and perspectives but including objects of today.
5. THE ART OF AGEING The recent appearance of photographs of elderly people and those with illnesses has broken many taboo subjects. In the powerful and poignant series by Fausto Podavini, he draws us into the intimate lives of an Italian couple grappling with the husband's Alzheimer's, a scene reflected in mirrors as she tenderly washes him, and a visually complex sight that reminds us of her former beauty and lasting love. …