The entries for this year’s Sony World Photography Awards were astonishing, especially when displayed at the exhibition in Somerset House, London, England. The diverse collection of photos was narrowed down by the judges from over 300,000 submissions from more than 200 countries.
In each category, first, second and third place was awarded to the photographers whose images made the most impact on the judges. This year, Raido Nurk, an Estonian-born, Netherlands-based photographer was crowned the Motion category winner for his image Surfing Festival.
The moody, photo challenges the stereotypical surf scene and rather than blue skies and sunny beaches it presents you with a moody sea, grey clouds and an abundance of willing surfers still enjoying the popular water sport.
You might think that Raido was a surfer himself, but his love for the sea comes from the characteristics that shape it. A lot of Raido’s work features the water in some capacity, but the looming darkness in Surfing Festival completely contrasts a lot of the imagery that can be found on his Instagram.
For Raido, photography is an endless journey – and as the Sony World Photo Awards is his first ever exhibition, this is surely just the start of a long and successful career. Not only was he awarded first prize in the Motion category, he also won the National Award for Estonia with the same image.
Following the announcement of the open category winners, we caught up with Raido to discuss what went into capturing the image, what equipment he shoots with and who or what inspired his passion for photography.
Are you a surfer yourself or did the scene you capture just really stand out for you?
I do kitesurfing, as the waves in Estonia (my home country) are usually not big enough for wave surfing. When I recently moved to the Netherlands I was captivated by the North Sea and its characteristics. Until now I have enjoyed capturing the seascape, the surfers, and the storms, but I am planning to get on board soon.
Did you travel to the Netherlands specifically for the surf festival?
I had moved to the Netherlands just a month before I took that image. The name of the picture Surfing Festival was created quite quickly because in my native language we usually call some events or places where are a lot of people a “festival”. Actually, there was actually no festival, just a lot of surfers – it is funny that so many people are really thinking and maybe searching for the Hague surf festival, but there was no such thing.
How long did it take you to capture the perfect image?
It did take quite a lot of time to capture that. It was about two hours standing on the pier in the rain before I felt that I got something.
Can you describe your photography in three words?
Minimalistic, light-play, different perspectives.
Have you ever had your work exhibited before?
No, I have not yet had my work exhibited. However, I am excited to go Sony World Photography Awards 2022 exhibition in London and see my own picture presented there. It is an honor and winning in two categories was amazing news for me.
What equipment do you use?
I use Sony A7 III at the moment. For that shot I used the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Sport. And a DJI Mavic 2 Pro for capturing the scenes from the sky.
How has winning the award helped you as a photographer?
It definitely gave a motivation boost to get better and invest more in it. It is always nice if your hard work gets recognized, and you might do the right thing after all.
How does using a Sony system help you achieve the shots you want?
I love the Sony – not sponsored! – character and its dynamic range, and great ISO capabilities. For me is really important because in my work I love to maximize the camera’s capabilities and what I can get out of that. I often like overexposed scenes or do high speed, so after many years Sony is definitely still in my bag.
When did you first become interested and is there one particular person who inspired this pursuit?
I got interested at an early age, but I rediscovered photography and visual arts around 2016. Drone photography was really new and exciting, and one thing led to another and I got addicted to photography. There have been many creators pursuing the field and it changes in time as art is an ever-evolving field.
If you could go anywhere in the world for a photoshoot, where would it be and why?
Well, the easy answer is that there are so many places and would like to visit all of them. I love my homeland Estonia – the four seasons, bogs, and the wild nature. But I would really like to explore ferocious Iceland and New Zealand. Also, visiting Nazaré waves and surfers in Portugal is a goal for the near future.
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