Visual Education member wins Sony World Photography Awards Still Life competition
When the World Photography Association announced the 10 category winners for the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards Open competition, Visual Education member Jorge Reynal did not expect his name to be placed alongside those of some of the greatest photographers in the world.
But that is exactly what happened.
Jorge’s striking and symbolic image of a dead fish in a plastic bag — A Plastic Ocean — was chosen as the winner in the Still Life category, beating hundreds of thousands of entries from around the world.
“I cannot believe I am standing with an award next to photographers like Tom Oldham, who has won several times,” said Jorge. “He is a rockstar of photography.”
Tom, who has been a guest on Visual Education, has won the portraiture category of the Sony Awards twice now — initially in 2018 with his Last of The Crooners project and again this year with his black and white image of Pixies frontman Black Francis.
Jorge explained that although he has worked hard to learn everything he can about the technicalities of studio lighting using Visual Education’s extensive range of classes, he felt he was still finding his style, which is partly why he was so surprised to win the category.
His haunting image, which highlights the crisis affecting the oceans, was just one of a selection of images he submitted for the prestigious competition, the idea of which originated after Jorge saw a disturbing video of a river in Asia, covered in plastic bottles.
As a former veterinarian, Jorge’s love for animals drove him to ask “What can I do?” and, having been inspired by Karl’s ocean pollution awareness campaign image, he soon devised a concept of his own.
It started with the idea of a fish crucified with plastic bottles, Jorge explained, but, as with many ideas, the personal project grew and developed.
Originally Jorge wanted to use a white background, but he quickly realised that black has a very different symbolism — one that was much better suited to the concept he wanted to convey.
The shoot resulted in a variety of images, from crucified fish on plastic bottles to straw-suffocated fish, but it is undoubtedly the image of the fish in plastic that is the most memorable, with it’s clear, yet subtle narrative and good control of light.
When the winners were announced in April, Jorge thanked Visual Education for teaching him “all there is to know about light”, as well as his mother, who instilled in him his passion for photography.
Also a photographer, his mother initially taught him the fundamentals of how to handle a camera when he was younger, but it was only later, at the age of 40, that Jorge got his first digital camera.
In the beginning, his work was more creative than commercial, and it was only after his first job for a friend that Jorge considered making money from his photography.
“But I realised there was a big gap from the pictures I was seeing on the internet and the pictures I was taking,” he said. “I didn’t know what it was, but I knew there as a difference.”
Like many, his search for answers led him to YouTube, where he came across a Visual Education advert and the rest, as they say, is history. Jorge has been an active member of Visual Education ever since. He particularly enjoys the critique shows and has even placed third in one of our previous competitions.
You can view all the category winners from the 2020 Sony World Photography Awards Open competition here.
Jorge Reynal is an Argentinian photographer based in Buenos Aires. He got his first camera at the age of 40, and has since then been learning all he can to improve his craft. You can view more of Jorge’s work on his Instagram page.